Recently, Garrett and I went camping for a couple of nights at a nearby campground. No computers. No work. Just books and marshmallows. 🙂
Though many books and blog posts belabor the point, I will reiterate: taking a day or two off helps gain perspective of the big picture. (Sometimes, I forget that.) The weather was perfect. The wide-open spaces provided lots of breathing room. We took stock of life, how far we’ve come with our finances, how lucky we are to have connected with so many wonderful folks in the PF community, and the numerous opportunities that lay before us.
After we went camping, we had a clearer picture of where we wanted to go, how we wanted to get there, and the steps we plan to take over the next few months. I’d say it was worth the break. 🙂
Now, let’s get to the personal finances of the weekend.
Act 1: Teardrop Camper
Enter our T@G. Our teardrop camper, manufactured by Little Guy, has been amazing.
We were dedicated tent campers earlier in our lives, but we decided in 2014 that we wanted something a little more comfortable for our trips. In October 2014, we purchased our T@G via a credit card (!!!) with a promotional rate of 0%.
Remember those FI false starts I mentioned? Yeah.
We spent nearly all of summer 2014 inside, whether that be at our house or at a hospital. Summer 2014 was a nightmare. I woke up daily wondering if I would ever recover and be able to walk again (let alone hike). Consequently, we did not take a vacation or go camping–we had no money, no time, and no energy. We spent much of our money on fast food and medical bills.
Our T@G <3
Garrett and I longed to travel, so we purchased the luxury pictured above as soon as I started to recover. Our teardrop camper and a credit card bill of $11,000 entered our lives. Fortunately, we started our PF journey shortly thereafter and paid off our credit card debt (i.e. the camper) in October 2015.
Putting aside financial matters, our teardrop camper is amazing. (Teardrop AMA in the comments section.) Our T@G provides a nice bed, air conditioning, fridge, and a propane-fueled cooktop–it has everything we could possibly want and not much more than is essential. We love its efficient design and minimalist aesthetic.
Act 2: Just Another Payment
Let’s get back to our camping trip earlier this month.
Late Friday evening at the campground, the largest RV I have ever seen rolled into the campground: a Fleetwood Discovery.
Narrow roads in this campground proved challenging, so it took the driver awhile to park. As the RV rolled by, I noticed something unusual stuck to the front. This particular RV had a custom applique above the large front window indicating that it’s
Just Another Payment!!
Now, I don’t know this family or their financial situation, but I sincerely hope they have their finances in order. We’ve known plenty of people with the “just another payment” attitude who ended up in bankruptcy. Yikes!
We used to have a “just another payment” attitude until our health troubles had other plans for our money. Bills piled up. Getting our health back meant spending five figures on our medical bills. On top of that, our non-medical spending involved taking on one debt after another–it’s just another payment, right?
Having an attitude of it’s “just another payment” is how we ended up with more than $200k in debt. We figured our earnings would catch up with our spending and we’d be able to wipe the slate clean.
As you can see from the chart, we never did anything before to meaningfully crush our debt. Last year was a big year for us as we worked to challenge our assumptions about money and how toxic this “just another payment” attitude was in our lives.
Act 3: Fostering a Debt-Free Attitude
What we realized at the campground was that the financial aspects of personal finance were easy once we dropped that “just another payment” attitude. Much of personal finance boils down to this: spend less than you earn and invest the rest. But it’s not always easy, is it? There are lots of personal finance bloggers out there covering the specifics of budgeting who can provide better advice than we can, if you’re also still trying to figure out money. 🙂
Since we are still trying to sort out the dollars and cents, I hope the value we provide others is in sharing the real-time experience of adopting a debt-free attitude. Change is what occurs only after the application of a little time and a little pressure–maybe even sometimes a lot of pressure, such as with lofty goals. You’re witness to our real-time attempt of trying to go from $240k in debt to completely debt free in two years. You’ve seen our stumbles. You’ve seen our successes. This our experience with money and money can be messy.
What it takes to become fully debt free is to first embrace the idea that it’s possible, achieveable, and necessary to accomplish. For us, the most difficult part of the journey was to embrace the seemingly impossible and to believe that being 100% free of every debt (even a mortgage) will happen for us. It IS possible to be debt free. 🙂