A Blog By Someone Who Hasn’t Won Yet

badlands

 

I love the PF blogosphere. The lifestyles documented by my frugal heroes are what have opened my eyes up to an alternate, more genuine, more free way of living. I have always been interested in personal finance (go figure, since I’ve been in debt since my first day of university!) and I’ve always known debt is bad and it must be paid ASAP, but it was the blogs themselves that pushed me forward beyond simply ‘knowing’ that debt is terrible and I must change my ways. They have inspired and shown me that life doesn’t need to be lived as a consumer, and have contributed insurmountably to my new money mindset and philosophy.

Declaration of love aside, I must admit that there is a tiny part of me that doesn’t feel connected with the PF blogosphere. I soak up all I can, and I believe in learning from those who have already been down the path I want to be on. I appreciate and admire those who have created plans and followed through on them.

However, I myself am not a successfully reformed frugalist just yet. I don’t have the utmost confidence in my frugality. I relapse. I get depressed. My lifestyle is not yet in a comfortable frugal groove where my friends and family around me acknowledge and respect my lifestyle choice, and where I have a rich treasure trove of frugal companions. I’m still the Desperado – I’ve exiled myself to the outskirts of the spendthrift consumerist lifestyle and most days I feel like I’m in the wilderness alone. I’m not yet at the lush, glorious oasis where I imagine my PF role models residing, and I’m trying to get as far removed from the consumerist core I’ve been trying to keep my back firmly turned away from. I’m still in limbo, en route a long journey in the barren badlands between consumer town and that rich oasis that’s still so far away in the distance.

So where does this leave me? Feeling like I’m trekking through the badlands solo. The risk there is that consumer town is still a lot closer than that oasis of frugality, and it can be tempting to turn around and yearn for the days I lived there – it’s still so close by that I can see its outline perfectly, catching glimpses and sounds of all the seemingly happy and excited people who live there, including all my family and friends. I look forward into the direction of the oasis, and see nothing yet – it’s too far away. Just badlands ahead of me. I turn to my beloved PF blogosphere, and I mostly see people who are already at the oasis – or at least are so much closer than I am, I feel I can’t connect with them.

My point is that I haven’t won yet. I adore reading the wise words of those who have, but I can’t always feel like I relate; I’m not on their wise and disciplined level yet. If you’re out there and you haven’t won yet, come join me on this trek through the badlands – we can help each other get there. I can’t promise you wise words based on experience, but we can keep each other strong in keeping our backs firmly turned away from consumer town, and tell each other how amazing it’s going to be once we’re living in that beautiful oasis of frugality. We’ll share anecdotes on how others got their and what journey and path they took to get there, as there’s so many great ones. And I won’t ever judge you if on particularly hard days, you turn your head over your shoulder and whistfully look back at what we’re doing our best to leave behind us. I’ll do my best to keep telling you how wonderful that oasis will be once we get there, and how we’ll never want to leave.

 

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13 Comments

  1. Yes I’m also still trekking through that long-haul desert of paying down debt yet feel that even though I’m dragging a load, I’m not actually carrying it on my back – there’s a little space there now between me and the load. It’s been 9 months since evaluating my finances and setting up my debt management strategy, with no debt yet paid off, however another 6 months will see one done and a snowball can finally start happening yay! In the meantime I’m living with and using what I already have even though some things are getting to the worn out stage. It’s been an education and a relief to see that old things are actually fine to keep using until they really really do need replacing, and also that actually no-one else cares if they’re old, it’s up to you. Anyway, the desert trek will continue for another 18 months (and the mortgage beyond that) because I’m not doing it cold-turkey, and that’s just fine. After decades of not managing my spending it’s a big turnaround and an ocean liner doesn’t turn in a hurry! So yes I’m with you, FD, you’re totally right in expressing how fantastic is the PF blogosphere but that many seem to have moved on from paying down debt. Rest assured, you’re far from being alone!

    1. Nice to know I’m not on this journey solo – thank you Marian 🙂 I loved your comment about the ocean liner! I need to keep that in mind, because it can be so discouraging to not see progress and change right away. Consistency hasn’t always been my forte, so learning that you have been consistently chipping away at your debt with a planned strategy for 9 months now is so inspiring! Yay! Being able to see the horizon on the end of one your debts in 6 months is also super exciting! Congrats, you should be so proud of yourself! Keep going strong! That snowball is going to pick up even more momentum once it starts wiping out debts and you’re going to make even quicker progress 🙂 About using things up, this may sound odd, but on the fip side of worrying about things wearing out, do you also find a sense of satisfaction to get true wear out of something, or to use it up until completion? My whole (cosumerist) life so far, I’ve grown accustomed to having too much of everything, or so much selection I never really wear something out. Now that I stoppped buying things and I wear things in and use them up, it feels so gratifying. Like I fulfilled the purpose of why I bought that object. I also think no one truly notices if things get old – and if they do, I believe I would value their opinion even less. As I’m starting to care less and less about what others think, I think of the Dr Seuss quote: “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind”

      1. Love the Dr Seuss quote!
        Yes I agree it is gratifying to wear things out, as you say, it is like it fulfills the purpose of obtaining that object in the first place.
        Your encouragement is much appreciated, too.
        One of my debts is a $9,669 personal loan (down from $18,000 in 2013) which I’m refinancing to a cheaper option this week. It will mean paying it off in 3 years max, but most likely MUCH sooner. I’m finding it heartening and empowering to every so often re-assess my financial arrangements. My mortgage debt is approx $186,000 and I intend to refinance it to a better value option in maybe a year – unfortunately I chose to lock it into a fixed rate for 5 years (a year ago) and the break costs are a bit high at the moment – but it’s great to be developing a long term view on finances and to know I can make new decisions regularly, decisions which keep updating my situation and support me further.
        I’ve had a bit of extra income this last month – Australia had a census and local council elections so I worked as a Census Field Officer and an Election Official – and doesn’t an extra $1,000 go a long way. I’ve put the exact payment amounts onto debt and not spent a penny of it on anything else, very gratifying.
        I’ve also found 1st October to be a great day to start tracking my spending again for 3 months. I tracked from Jan-March this year and by early April had set up my financial situation for the year and my tracking just fell away. Now I feel it’s time to re-track and re-assess what’s happening, just in time for Jan 2017, a time when we all have a fresh look at things and may make new decisions and have new starts.
        Hope you’re going well and continuing steadily to monitor your situation and develop your new lifestyle. From reading PF blogs over time, it seems that during the paying down debt time, people are adjusting to a wiser, more stable approach to life and finances. That’s certainly the case for me, as well as the realisation that I don’t need anywhere near as much as I previously thought, which actually creates space in myself and thus in my life, a very nice outcome!

        1. Marian, you are making awesome progress!! You’re also so on top of your money situation – monitoring your rates, refinancing, looking at different options…amazing! You’re so right on long term views on finances helping make better decisions. I think I could avoided a lot of heartbreak and my current debt load if I thought of the future more instead of just living (and spending) in the moment.
          The $1000 you put from your side work right to your debt was just the kick in the pants I needed – besides working evenings as a bike messenger, I’m in a sales role during my daytime work and I get a bonus every quarter. Two sources of “extra” income I’ve always told myself to just shovel directly into debt, but never manage to do it. Sometimes that extra injection of money outside of your regular income is exactly what one needs to get momentum going on crushing a debt. Kudos to you for actually making it happen! I have a bonus coming in November of roughly the same amount; after reading your comment I’m dead-set on putting that entire amount to debt immediately!

  2. I’m like you. I’m not there yet but I know the Financial Journey is never a straight line but a zig zag as I take two steps forward and one step back. Keep up the good work and in no time I’m sure you’ll look back and be amazed at how well you’ve done.

    1. Thank you for the kind and encouraging words, MSM. I empathize with the “two steps forward and one step back” sentiment. I do like that the silver lining here is that it equates to one step forward as opposed to being stagnant, one step forward as opposed to just simply one step back. Good luck on your journey as well – I’ll be rooting for you too.

  3. It is ALWAYS a journey, with setbacks along the way. Right now I feel like we’re hardly making progress – struggling with my spendy partner, the unexpected expenses, the $2k on the credit card. <3

    1. Oh goodness, I know what you mean -about everything – but especially the spendy partner. Mine doesn’t believe in saving and thinks “frugality” is a dirty word. It’s so difficult to go all in/full speed ahead when your partner’s not on board. Sometimes I feel like I try to get my household one step forward and then his efforts pull it one step back. Or I worry about the future – how do I get “us” to the place I want to be if there’s only me aiming to get there? Not an easy situation to be in.

      1. I’m appreciative that I’m on my own – this financial chutzpah is all my own making!
        I was wondering if it’s possible that you at least discuss separate finances with your partner – if not completely separate then partially? Maybe the day-to-day costs be separate with a kitty for food and utilities and share the mortgage/rent cost? Is it possible to at least start a discussion with your partner, even if nothing happens for a while? Just a thought.

        1. Dearest Marian, I’m sorry I missed this comment! Alas, the conversations happen at least weekly. The problem isn’t splitting the bills, it’s the long-term financials views that are the problem. He wants to live in a nice place (whereas I want to downgrade so we don’t pay so much in rent), buy some extremely over-priced property whereas I want the bubble to pop, and wants to live a more typical “Western” lifestyle whereas I’d love to work towards early retirement (of course, debt payoff comes first! But then I’d like to eschew some of the things society tells us to get like nice cars and owning our home, etc in an effort to retire early, whereas he does not)

    2. Sorry I hit the wrong ‘reply’ … are you paying down more debts as well as the $2K credit card? Spendy partner – see query below to FD …

  4. Yes it’s not the amount we’re paying down but our habits we’re addressing, hey. Are you paying off other debt too … the reason I ask is that if I was down to $2K I’d feel delighted and that I was nearly there! However that’s why we cannot compare amounts … as mentioned, it’s the money habits we’re all looking at … and how we feel about money – confident and clear about it – or not!

    1. You’ve inspired me to write up another round-up post (or “face the music” post, I should say) so I can get all my current debt on one page. It’s somewhere in the $60,000 range right now 🙁 I wholeheartedly agree with your statement though – it’s not about the amounts but how we feel about the money. Sometimes I hear a friend bemoan their $2000 credit card and I think, if I could only be so lucky! However it is truly all about feeling comfortable and confident about our money situation and our control over it!

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