One of our Resolutions this year was to dramatically reduce our financial obligations and debt. It hasn't been an easy thing to do with paying projects waxing and waning, and unexpected expenses popping up all over. The worst part has been sitting back and seeing clearly how we got here to begin with. It's not pretty, particularly because there wasn't just one big thing that got us here, it was just a simple, barely perceptible slope over several years that led to a pit with no easy exit route. It's nauseating how quickly debt can snowball into a fierce monster ready to ruin you. I know it's a common held idea that debt is a way of life, get used to it. That may be so, but I don't want it to be my way of life. I don't want it to be my children's way of life. We have worked incredibly hard this year to pay off debt. We've spent a lot of time educating the boys on the value of saving up for something rather than pulling out the trusty credit card (go ahead and ask them, they came to the conclusion on their own that "credit cards are evil").
We had some major disappointments, like an unexpected tax bill of over $5,000, which added to the spectacularly huge amount we owe our creditors. But we pushed ahead and trimmed fat from the budget and made some sacrifices at a time when the media and our culture is encouraging us from every angle to spend money to stimulate the economy. We focused on putting every spare cent toward the giant debt monster. We started in earnest in February, and eight months later we've paid off 21% of our debt. This is both encouraging and discouraging. Encouraging because in eight months we've paid off nearly a quarter of our debt! And discouraging because if it takes us a year to pay off a quarter of our debt, that means it could take us three more years to pay off the rest. Ouch. We're reminded of the old adages A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It's just a lot more difficult than expected, conditioned as we are to getting instant gratification. And it's no secret that we like to be counter-culture, to go against what everyone else is doing, to purposely take the more difficult path. But the idea of getting out of debt, and staying out of debt, is so far counter-culture that it's actually radical and revolutionary and really upsetting many people close to us who think we've gone nuts. But I care less about that than what I see as modern day, legal slavery: consumer debt. So call me crazy if you want, but I will scratch and claw and sacrifice and do whatever it takes to get out from under the debt we've gotten ourselves into, and if takes three more years, then so be it. These are uncertain times, and we're committed to making at least one thing certain, freedom from the bondage of debt! There are so many things we dream of doing, good and noble things that will make the world a better place and impact the lives of people in desperate situations. But these dreams are hobbled by the chains of debt pulling us back. So today we're going to celebrate our 21% because we are getting closer to our goal, toward doing the things we dream of. Maybe being debt-free is crazy to you, but surely living out your dreams is not!
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. -Henry David Thoreau
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