Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: Fortune Cookie

Live like no one else so later, you can live like no one else.
—Dave Ramsey

Wouldn’t it be great to open a fortune cookie and have the meaning of life answered with one simple phrase? Seems like everyone is looking for that one thing that will make their lives better, their wallets fatter, their waistlines slimmer—and I’m no exception. None of us are truly happy with what we have, always wanting more when everything we need is right in front of us.

Here’s the phrase I consider my fortune cookie fortune: Live like no one else, so later, you can live like no one else.

This simple phrase has given me more fortune than any message in a cookie ever could. What does it mean? Exactly the opposite of what ad agencies tell us in commercials and magazines: don’t be like everyone else, delay gratification, live on less money than you make. “Normal” in this country means being up to your eyeballs in stuff and debt. So I’m choosing to be “abnormal” by saving, investing for the future, and not buying things I can’t afford.

Being a good steward of my money is a topic dear to my heart. Heck, I could have written about “the debt monster” in last week’s Sunday Scribblings. But after paying off a ton of consumer debt earlier this year, I have a certain kind of freedom I’ve never had before. I don’t have internal conversations like: if I buy a $7 lunch, will that throw me into reserve credit? Or, should I take $100 and pay on 10 bills or pay one bill with $100?

Being debt free translates into making difficult choices now to succeed in the long run. It’s about turning down dinners out so I can put that money into a rainy day fund. It’s about driving a junky car past its prime so I don’t carry a car payment. It’s about having garage sales, taking freelance jobs, and cutting the cable subscription so I can pay cash to attend the Dodge Poetry Festival in a few weeks. It’s not about missing out—it’s about getting the most out of what you’ve been given. No more. No less.

The image I chose sums up exactly what I’ve been trying to say. I don’t need to open this cookie now. I’m putting it off so I can one day open it in my paid-for house with our newly renovated kitchen (paid for in cash), celebrating my good fortune with the people I love most.

15 comments:

Bug said...

Great post. I definitely share your money philosophy. That fabulous pair of boots is never worth having to worry about money.

But are you telling me you've paid off your house? If so, I'm going to hire you to work on my finances!

Kamsin said...

It's definately unfashionable to delay gratification and make your own fortune the hard way instead of coming up with some quick fix idea. Great post, a lesson I'm still learning, so thanks for the encuragement to get to work on my own debt.

wendy said...

I've come to curse BLOGGER BETA with you...

I agree with you, and I think you are a true original!!

Yesterday I wore a t-shirt that said.."Just BEE yourself" With a bee, and of course a Tiarra...

GreenishLady said...

I'd like to be able to follow your example. I think it's great that you don't deprive yourself of the important things (like Dodge!), but that you prioritise and work towards getting the important things organised. You're to be congratulated on getting free of the debt monster! Well done.

paris parfait said...

This is the third time my comment has been kicked off by beta blogger! This blasted beta blogger! As I was saying, it's really admirable that you've achieved debt-free status and are able to manage priorities - such as Dodge - in a creative manner, rather than going into debt. Awesome example for us all! Well done, you!

Deb R said...

Brilliant post, January. I need to read it every day until it sinks in.

January said...

Wish I could say I've paid off my house, but I'm a few years away from that (maybe 10), but it's definitely our goal to pay things off sooner rather than later. Hope the kitchen renovation happens in two years.

Thanks for the kind words everyone.

Hope everyone else is having an easier time than I am responding to posts. The blogger beta has been a bugga!

Sharon said...

A great post. Too many of us are slaves to the "debt monster". While I am not in serious credit card debt, I could certainly be a little more frugal in my everyday living and be less lassiez faire about my expenses. I definitely need to learn to delay gratification! Thanks for reminding me of that.

Ceebie said...

January: I love this sentiment, and I loved the image at the end...Keep being you - that's what brings me back to your blog.

Becca said...

Congratulations are certainly in order for your sensible approach to finance. I wish more people shared your philosophy and your fortitude!

I've been having the same problems with the beta blogger comments. It's very frustrating!

Left-handed Trees... said...

The discipline becomes so much easier when you have clear goals in mind...we've recently made some major steps in the direction you speak of. But, it wasn't until I got a very clear vision of my acreage and my "guest cottage/writing studio" out back that I want within five years that I could easily put things back on the shelf and keep my wallet AWAY! Great take on the prompt...

Kim G. said...

I'll admit this is an area of struggle for me. Neither me or my husband are very financially savy. Our debt issues arise more out of ignorance than a blatent disregard to spend more than we make. But, excuses, excuses . . . your post was very motivational and challenging. Thanks for sharing your concept of good "fortune".

deirdre said...

I'm right there with you on living more carefully and within my means. It's so much less stressful. Keeping up with what society deems to be 'normal' is draining and ultimately useless. Not that I don't like pretty things or dinner out, there just needs to be something more than boredom or competition behind the expense.

Catherine said...

That's a great philosophy, which I agree with entirely. We are debt free apart from a small mortgage, and have always been debt free (apart from a large mortgage, at first).
My husband saves a quarter of his income for retirement, and I must admit at times I wish he would save a little less and travel and renovate a bit more - but in the long run, if we redo the interiors after twenty years they will be just as fresh as if we had redone them five times over the twenty years!
And my trip, when it comes, will be all the more appreciated for the anticipation.

DEBTective said...

Dollface, just wanted to say a big-time thanks for spreading the word about deep-sixing debt. Just like Dave Ramsey always talks about ... his plan makes sense, doesn't it. Way to go, and thanks for working for The Man Upstairs. www.debtective.com

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