Not so long ago my husband and I felt that our lives were full of promise. We felt there was a certainty for great change to occur. Every dream we had at the time seemed sure to happen. Our dreams were simple. They were of the day Chris would no longer have to drive a semi for a major soft drink company and I could stop working and devote my life to the things I wanted to do. We could travel and buy a big house here in Florida and another in our home state. In other words, our world would be something that we could have only dreamed about.
That dream was destroyed and forces beyond our control shattered the very life we had left. The amazing thing is we never gave up. We could have and no one would have blamed us if we had. We could have blamed each other for where our decisions led us, but we didn’t.
We have different ways to work out our problems. Chris is the kind of man that faces his problems and wants to work them out together. This goes on until there is at least a plan in place. Me? I would rather work it out in my mind and then together. In reality this is exactly what we did. We took stock of our lives literally. We had to know what and who we owed. We also had to know what assets we had and if they were of value in case we needed to sell them. We had to find a starting point.
Once we found our stating point we had to realize no one could help us. Borrowing money was a short term answer, but one that was no longer an option, especially after I was laid off. We had no family members who could bail us out of our mistakes. We had God and each other. That was enough.
Chris chose to work the hours he needed to. We chose to find the best ways to save money for us. This was the introduction to being frugal we so desperately needed. We realized that it is not about how much money you make, but how you spend it. A very simple truth we learned is that if you spend more money than you make, then you are eventually inevitably in debt.
I was unemployed for three years. I believed that if I couldn’t bring money into the house then I was going to make sure a whole lot less money was going out of the house. In that time I had 3 job interviews and the only one I got was a temporary holiday job.
I’ve spoken of Dave Ramsey and how we followed his basic rules to get out of debt. We found that when he says In his book, ” I’ll live like no one else, later I’ll get to live like no one else”, it is the truth.
You see, we chose to invest in ourselves. We chose to look at our lives positively and make decisions based in the present with the information we had, not promises or pipe dreams. Our lives have become the lives we dreamed of, only better.
Chris still works for the soft drink company, but he no longer drives and he enjoys his job. This is the first time in 32 years of marriage, he doesn’t hate his job.
We are now debt free and own our home free and clear. We have traveled to Mexico, taken a couple of cruises, rented a couple of cabins in Tennessee and Georgia, we spent almost a week in New Orleans, and have visited family in Michigan and Illinois.
I started writing this blog. I was desperate to have it make enough money for me to no longer have to work outside the home. Even this hasn’t worked out the way I wanted it to. I found my voice in my writing. I still love to save money and tell you all how to do things to save money, but there is so much more that I want to say. Who knows where it will take me, but through this blog I found out that writing is another of my passions.
Eventually I found a job in the mall and work two days a week there. I am at a place in my life where I can choose what I do. I have chosen to take on the job of watching our youngest grandchild. I am amazed at how much joy she brings into our lives. Being a grandparent is so much more fun than being a parent.
We are free in a way that most of the people I know have no understanding of. We have no stress from our bills and we have enough in savings to cover most disasters that can happen in life. I no longer cringe when I open the mail box and actually enjoy going through the junk mail.
The truth is just like the Frances Mayes in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, we have found everything we dreamed of, just not the way we expected.