If you are on the road to debt freedom or financial independence, are you happy for friends and family when they purchase something new, fancy, and/or expensive, or does it make you cringe a little bit? Do we feel a bit smug knowing that we are on the better path, or are we really just jealous because we don’t have new jeans from Macy’s with rhinestones on the back pockets? Are we even on the better path? I’ve heard many arguments about why it’s better to spend money when you make it. You could die tomorrow without enjoying things like the new car you wanted or those aforementioned rhinestone jeans. It’s an argument I’ve had with myself, and recently, I tried to remember what things I miss from my days of spending too much money.
Beginning in 2000, my husband and I started buying new cars. One or both of us drove a new car every three or four years. We’d get one almost paid off and then trade it in for a new one. We never bought extravagant vehicles, mostly Hondas or Nissans, but they were brand new. Do I miss driving new cars?
Absolutely not! Everytime I look at my six year old car, I don’t see dings and scratches. I see no payment of $350/month. No new car makes me want another car payment.
We used to buy clothes monthly. We have no clothing stores in our town other than Wal-Mart, so often we’d get up on Saturday and decide to drive the 70 miles to the nearest mall just because we were bored. Whether we needed something or not, we usually bought some item of clothing because it was on sale or a “good deal.” Do I miss new clothes?
I am buying no clothes in 2013, and so far, I don’t want a thing. I realize I will eventually have to buy clothes, and my daughter grows too fast to last a year without something new, but having money in my bank account is way nicer than new clothes every month.
Back in the day, I would say we averaged at least three nights a week either eating at a restaurant or bringing home takeout. We also did quite a bit of running by the grocery store deli and picking up chicken and a few sides. Do I miss frequent restaurant meals?
I’m actually enjoying learning to cook and follow recipes. It’s much healthier and gives us more family time in the evening. We still eat out maybe once a month. We actually enjoy it more because it seems like a treat.
Before, if we did any activity once and liked it, we bought the gear. Sometimes it was a good purchase, like my bicycle that I’ve used hundreds of times. Others weren’t so smart and ended up in the garage where old sports equipment goes to die. We also traded in gear more often than we needed. Adult skis or bikes can last for many years if you care for them.
We also had to have the latest in electronics. I remember when Blu Ray players came on the market. We went in search one weekend, and they were all out of stock in most of the stores. We ended up paying way too much at an expensive electronics store just so we could bring one home that day. Do I miss gadgets?
Over the past couple of years, we’ve sold all the old gear that we don’t use. We only buy what we need now. If my laptop died tomorrow, I’d go buy a new one, but only after searching for the best deal online or in the stores. I’d also probably find some sort of coupon. I don’t own a smartphone, and I’m still breathing. I feel I have everything I need.
Is There Anything I Really Miss?
This is probably a false heading, as we never really deprived ourselves of the things we do use. We never cancelled our satellite TV. It is our entertainment. My husband likes ESPN, and I like to watch Kentucky Wildcat basketball and HGTV. I never cancelled my membership to the city recreation center. I hang out with my early morning girls in work out class, and we socialize. We still took trips. We stopped putting them on credit, and we didn’t do anything fancy, but we still took vacations. I would probably have missed those if we’d cut them out.
The only thing that I kind of miss from our spending days is XM satellite radio. I liked some of the unique stations like Pearl Jam Radio, Lithium, or Hair Nation. Our local radio stations are terrible, so I usually use my iPod in the car (which is about 7 years old by the way, works fine).I do miss XM. Maybe when all the debt is gone, I’ll reinstall it.
That’s it. Looking back at all the stuff we wasted thousands of dollars on over the years, I only miss $10/month XM radio. All the other things were just window dressing that didn’t make us happy. Having all that debt made us miserable, and rhinestone jeans just don’t make up for that, even if they do make your butt look great.