To understand just how I feel about where i am today you have to appreciate my childhood. We lived a Franks and beans existence. Dad moved out and Mom had a heart attack. Having money for fuel oil wasn't guaranteed, cars were old and any kind of repairs were a disaster. We didnt live We worried. Stress was high and frankly I never felt as good as anyone else. With borrowing and grants I managed to get through Community College and then get a BS from a NY State College. I landed a job with a large Bank and went to graduate school (MBA then an MS) with their assistance and credit cards. I always felt education could pull me out of the funk. I always took advantage of any way to go to school or take acomputer course. Even though I was working and making a decent living. I was on a treadmill not really getting anywhere. That's when I met my wife. About the second or third date she suggested we buy a steak and cook dinner at my place . Even though the steak caught on fire I knew this was my kind of gal. Eventually I reluctantly told her about my debt - about 10k at the time. I borrowed against my 401k for the ring.
Things changed- we worked at, and I learned frugality. Coupons and buying on sale became our standard. It worked, we paid off my debt and bought a house all within 2 years. Whenever a bonus or funds came our way we spent a little and saved most. Our bedroom set came from a lady moving to Florida. My lawnmower came from a yard sale for $20. I was the plumber, electrician, gardener and handyman. She was he painter and bookkeeper. Take out Chinese food and pizza were our idea eating out and we never spent more than 20 dollars. (I did once and she was not happy). We paid off the mortgage and continued to save. Today I am 58 and we have had no debt for many years! We can retire when we want and do not fear layoffs, busted furnaces or the dentist. We live like so very few do. It is a great feeling. Keep in mind I did well but never made a huge salary -it's really about what you save more than what you earn. And of course the right Partner! I think almost anyone can do it just simplify your life and give up the toys.....
How we did it!
1) We made extra payments on our mortgage when we could.
2) We clipped coupons and always bought on sale
3) brown bagged it
4) avoided $4 cups of coffee
5) bought a modest home we could afford.
6) never, never used credit card debt. I work in the credit card business and I can tell you those little plastic squares can ruin a marriage and family.
7) when extra money came our way we spent a little and invested the rest. We bought modest amounts of dividend paying stocks. When that first dividend comes in it is an awesome feeling.
drove the same car for 13 years and when we did buy it wasn't a Mercedes.
9) a big night out was take home chinese or pizza and a $1 movie
10) we refinanced when the rates were favorable.
11) We took vacations that we paid cash for
The results of this life style "living like so few do" are wonderful. When money concerns are removed from your life you will achive an inner peace that is better then any yoga session.
I do not fear the layoff, dental bill or broken transmission. It is a great way to live. So when you feel a little discouraged think about the end game...It is so worth the discipline. I feel truly blessed.
My lunch Thursday was peanut butter and jelly whole wheat sandwich and a mug of chicken soup that I bought from home. The discipline of 20 plus years is still there.