Three and a half years ago, Johnny and I were living in New York City. We’d been out of school less than two years, we were paying off debt, we had just a couple thousand in savings, and we’d been hoping to get pregnant for over a year. We were living happily, but in that moment it felt as though our lives would always be in a state of watching every single penny, putting as much as we could toward our Debt Monster, and wondering if and when we’d be growing our little family (and whether or not we could afford it).
I think the way we felt is pretty typical. It’s hard to imagine anything but the present, whether that current moment is good or bad.
Sure, we were happy, but we working for a day when the grass would be greener. We didn’t even know what that grass looked like or why it would be worth it, but it motivated us and our frugal ways every day.
Fast forward three and a half years. We’re back in New York City (surprise!… no, seriously, we never would have predicted that one) with a two-year-old and a second baby arriving anytime in just a few weeks. I quit my full-time job almost a year ago, Johnny has a higher-paying salary, and we’re 100% debt free. Our NYC apartment this time around is twice the size as our last, includes a dishwasher, full-size fridge, and a room for two little kiddos. We have better furniture (mostly still IKEA) and the same moody cat. We not only have positive money in our bank account, but it’s more than we could have ever dreamed we’d have three and a half years ago.
For those of you in the trenches right now, it’s really difficult to imagine being in a position where you’re debt-free and saving a ton of money. It may feel like that financial strain is going to last forever or that your circumstances will never get easier. But that day will come. For some, you may be at the beginning of your journey. For others, you may be in the home stretch. Some days will be harder than others and there will be sacrifices. But if you stay the course, you’ll get there.
It took us two years to pay off our debt and two years from that date to have a six-figure net worth, something we really couldn’t have fathomed just a few years ago. These were all personal victories that had zero fanfare and that meant nothing to anyone but us. Nor should they — all of us are running our own marathons. But it’s been worth the hard work. Fortunes can change fast. Once you’ve paid down your debt, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can grow your savings. So many great things are waiting in our futures if we just work hard and keep pushing.
And even though we find ourselves in a totally different situation than we were the last time we were living in New York City, our mindset hasn’t changed. We’re still sticking to a budget and finding ways to save. But instead of paying off debt, now we’re saving for retirement, our children’s education, and for that home we plan to buy someday somewhere. Currently, we can’t imagine the day when we’ll have our target retirement amount of $2 million saved up, or when we’ll be settled enough to be homeowners with a yard and a real mailbox. But as long as we keep on keepin’ on, that day will come. And all this freaking budgeting nonsense will be worth it.
Who out there can give a sister an “amen” and back up what I’m saying? What helps you to keep chugging on this journey?