Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Gazelle Intensity

A conversation my wife and I had the other night has left me in a state of self reflection. We were out for an evening stroll during an unusually warm (40ish - Fahrenheit) January night, and were spit-balling ideas, goals and dreams for our lives after we buy our first home together. On the material side, there’s not a lot that I personally want or am craving. I’d like a couple of nice, used vehicles to get us from point A & B and enough furniture in our home so our voices don’t echo off the walls. Generally, I used to think that when we hit our pinnacle point that I would add on my “want to buy” list things like: a fishing boat, a convertible, a Delorean with a flux capacitor, you know, the usual. Instead what I’m finding as we are getting closer to our goal is that I have less of a desire to hold material possessions that impress other people. I would rather payoff layaway Christmas items for families than drive the latest convertible model.

But when pressed for one thing in my house that I would want, I know exactly what it is. A statue, in the back yard, of a gazelle. For those who are not members of the Ramsey nation, I’ll bring you up to speed. When starting your Total Money Makeover, when you make the transition to focusing on you and your family’s financial well-being, you devote every ounce of energy, blood, sweat and tears to working each baby step as quickly as humanly possible. To bust through each of the first baby steps, (I. 1K emergency fund in the bank, II. Debt snowball, III. 3-6 months emergency fund in the bank) you sell things on ebay, you work as much overtime as they will give you, you take on an extra part-time job, you do everything within possibility to climb out of the debt trench and start the ascension to financial peace.

My gazelle intensity (and certification that I am a true nerd) was a well built game plan that improved the offense, but just as importantly stressed defense. I worked as much overtime as my employer would give me and my wife tutored in addition to her full-time job. On the defense side we cut our monthly expenses, and then cut some more, and then cut some more. We stripped our grocery and entertainment budgets to the bone, and let’s just say I know every park within a 10 mile radius of our apartment that shows free movies during the summer, and the same for lounges that host live music without a cover charge (and we stayed hydrated at those events with an old friend called water, not bottled, tap, and yes I am still alive to talk about it!). We held back on vacations, we dumpster dove for grocery carts, we dragged into our apartment 100+ pound entertainment centers from the dumpster, we picked up bags of clothes off freecycle and shop at our local Salvation Army for the “latest apparel,” we became flexatarians, we’ve continued to use public transportation instead of owning cars, we do our own taxes and combined we gross close to 100K and live on close to 20K. And you know what? It changed me.

As we get further along in our baby steps and the goals we have on paper become reality, the things I crave and desire and put as new goals aren’t lavish luxuries, they’ve become genuine experiences that represent where we’ve been, where we are and where we are going. So my “gazelle statue,” will be a physical reminder of how hard we worked and sacrificed to make the most of the resources available to us and achieved financial peace. It will represent the anti-consumerism lifestyle we live. And that no matter what life throws our way, we will be fine. As long as I can breathe I will carry with me the heart, drive, desire and humility to provide for my family financially, spiritually and emotionally. Whether I am faced with delivering pizzas, sorting boxes at UPS, or staying at the office job, we will always be on a plan to tell our money where to go rather than wonder where it went.

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