The Expatriated Consumer

Imagining life without debt. Working to make it reality.

Overcoming discouragement

Posted by Max Finkle on May 9, 2008

Arguably the most difficult thing to overcome in this saga of mine is the constant roadblocks I encounter. I get yet another surprise payment due, such as professional insurance that I pay once a year, or my quarterly term life insurance, or the maintenance due on one of the vehicles that I had forgotten to budget for. It’s at those times that my heart rate quickens, I start feeling that sense of impending doom, and I just want to throw in my towel.

“Why not just embrace this Consumer Culture and spend?” I say to myself (not really that eloquently, I confess!). “I’m tired of being the only guy on the block with a 20 year old television, no 56 inch flat panel to watch the Sunday games on. I’m tired of making due without a laptop, and the incredible convenience it would provide. I’m sick of driving an older model car with dents and scratches.” And the list goes on, and I sink into a quagmire of self pity.

Then I get up for work the next day, and wonder why I have to do that, too. I’m tired of dragging my tired tail out of bed, just so I can go to work to earn money for someone else. I whine to myself that it’s not fair that I can’t spend the day with my children, or attend a gathering with friends, or whatever else I’d rather do than go to work. And the list goes on, and I sink into a quagmire of self pity.

Then I sit back and think about which path is going to help me achieve those things that I would rather be doing. Embracing the Consumer Culture gives me short term gratification, because I get to have the luxuries that I want now. There’s a great caveat in that though, because then I still have to pay for them, and I still have to get up early to go to work and make money for someone else, so I can pay for the luxuries I covet.

On the other hand, living without those luxuries, living with a touch of frugality, drives me closer to my long term goals of being financially secure. I can work towards my goals of eventually working less and enjoying my children, family and friends more. That’s when I’m reminded of why I live without many luxuries that I’d like to have.

I’ve established a goal in my mind, and that is to be able to maximize the time I spend with my family. I have only one chance in this lifetime to do that. While I mourn the loss of countless hours spent working, I revel in the idea that in the next few years, my financial situation will hopefully enable me to pursue those things that I truly value in life.

Many financial advisers suggest you make a list of items important to you. I can’t help it, but every time my family seems to float to the top of that list. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, and that knowledge allows me to overcome constant discouragements, and continue to the pursuit of my dream of financial security.

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