Earlier this week, Josh and I had a long discussion about our student loan progress.
In just three years, we paid a whopping $35,000 on the loans. While I’m happy with that accomplishment, we still have a long way to go.
The whole discussion started because we want to take a weekend getaway in the fall. We have a favorite bed and breakfast near Charleston, South Carolina, and it’s been calling our name for a while. We’re beach people, and we basically live for vacations.
But as much as I want to spend a weekend in my favorite B&B with my favorite guy at my favorite beach, I just had this nagging feeling. Despite our excellent progress on the student loan, I felt like we’d be better off putting our vacation money toward the loan.
Let me explain. In our relationship, I’m the nerd. If you’re familiar with Dave Ramsey, then you might know what I’m talking about. Nerds are the people who get all jazzed up about budgeting. They take charge of their finances and have a blast while doing so.
On the other end of the spectrum are the free spirits. They’re the ones who would rather do just about anything instead of dealing with finances. Josh isn’t that bad, but he’s definitely the free spirit around here.
Even though we’re complete opposites in that regard, our differences really complement each other. I keep us on budget, and Josh makes sure we budget for fun activities. It’s a fine balance, if you ask me. 🙂
In true nerd fashion, I love reading about other people who have paid off large student loans. I follow many bloggers who reached the debt-free mark we’re so desperately trying to achieve.
In most cases, those people made some radical life changes to make it happen. They stopped eating out, got second jobs, gave up vacations, etc. And it’s truly inspiring! They really lived like no one else so they could get out from under their debt.
When I read about those kinds of stories, I can’t help but reflect on our own efforts. We still eat out occasionally, and we haven’t given up any vacations.
When I compare myself to those other people, I feel guilty for not making radical changes. I think to myself, “Well, the loan might be gone if we hadn’t bought this…or taken that vacation…or used part of our tax return here.” The perfectionist within me just keeps rattling off reasons why our current progress isn’t enough.
And then Josh swoops in to save the day.
Y’all. That man keeps me sane. He makes me a better version of myself by challenging me to look at situations in a different light.
- While I focus on how long it’s taking to pay off the loan, he focuses on how far we’ve come.
- When I say our vacation money could have gone toward the loan, he reminds me how many special memories we made on that trip.
- When I say our tax return just disappeared, he says we used that money to build up our emergency fund.
- When I say we only paid $400 on the loan this month, he points to the month where we paid $3,000.
So. Much. Wisdom.
In my frantic pursuit of a debt-free lifestyle, sometimes I get caught up in the things we didn’t do right, or the things we could have done better. It’s a crummy feeling that leaves me stressed and dissatisfied.
But I’m learning. I’m learning to celebrate the things we did well. And I’m learning that it’s okay for us to spend money (within reason!) on experiences that make us happy.
I’m so impressed by those debt-free people who made radical changes to make their big dreams come true. And I’ll continue to look to them for wisdom and inspiration.
But I also want to celebrate our milestones and accomplishments without feeling guilty. We’re making excellent progress with the student loan while still making memories on beach getaways. At the end of the day, that seems to be what works best for us.
The moral of the story?
Don’t beat yourself up if something in your life isn’t going exactly as planned.
Maybe you’re trying to become debt-free too and the progress just seems too slow. Or maybe you’re in a situation where you wish you would have done things differently.
Whatever the case may be, try shifting your focus to the things you did right. Celebrate the little victories, offer yourself a healthy dose of grace, and move on. I can promise you that it will do wonders for your happiness.
P.S. Our fall B&B trip is still up in the air. When in doubt, pray! We asked for some heavenly guidance on this one since we’re torn, so we’ll see what happens.