The Expatriated Consumer

Imagining life without debt. Working to make it reality.

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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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