Everyone talks about how we can make more money so we can buy whatever we want. In the personal finance world, hardly anybody talks about the value of frugality.
In her mid-20s, Jen was 50k deep in student loans earning an average of 35-40k a year. She was not earning enough to pay these off. The plan was to shove it in the closet and wait until she was married and living in a double-income household. Jen refused to live under a rock for the remainder of her 20s to live debt-free.
When she got engaged and started planning for her future, Jen and her now husband Travis decided to pay off their loans first, totaling 78k for both of them. At the time, Travis was even unemployed. Their goal was a tall order, but they managed to pay off 78k worth of debt in 2 years. This incredible journey has led her to explore frugality and discover that the more you consume does not equate to more happiness.
“I just got rid of what I didn’t care about and kept what I loved without guilt.” – Jen Smith
It has now become Jen’s life mission to help people overcome impulse spending and transform their buying habits. She advocates for intentional spending and conscious consumption, encouraging people to run towards frugality as a way to feel better about money, instead of seeing it as deprivation. She shares a few insights with us:
Think beyond instant gratification. Ask yourself what you want – think 5, 10, and 15 years ahead. Does a Starbucks cup enter the picture? If it’s the farthest thing from your mind, then it should be the first one you let go of. Discern and identify your core values. This way it will be easier to realize which material things you can sacrifice up front.
Being intentional versus being cheap. There is a clear line between the two. Being cheap is just buying the cheapest variant of anything you need while being intentional is carefully choosing what you buy and consciously supporting sustainable products.
Debt is neutral. There are no good or bad debts. There are, however, essential and limiting debts. Essential debts are student loans and mortgages – they get us ahead in life. Limiting debts, on the other hand, are consumer debts. This is excessive consumption without a lot of mindfulness. Acknowledging the difference as you go through this journey is a foundational requirement.
No expense is fixed, everything is negotiable. Debts are not all created equal. Even something as big as your living arrangement. If you find that a huge chunk of your mortgage is eating up your earnings, it might be high time to look for a less expensive house that would better fit your financial goals. There is always something you could move.
Identifying internal movers. It’s not every day that your core values could get you through difficult times because humans constantly crave instant gratification. External motivators are rewards and praises. Internal motivators are things we do just for the joy of doing it. Finding an activity that correlates to your core values will be helpful.
All of it can be overwhelming, but Jen believes that it gets easier when you decide to tackle things in little segments. She talks more about the psychological component of debt payoff in her new book, Pay Off Your Debt For Good, which you can get for free along with her other book, The No Spend Challenge Guide when you enter to win this week’s giveaway!
Click here to enter!
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