21st August 1999 I met my husband Michael when I was living in Darwin, he was there for less than forty eight hours, on holidays from The Netherlands.
We both knew it was love at first sight and when he returned to Australia four months later we bought a car and started travelling together.
During those long hours spent in the car we thought of so many plans, practical and not so practical of how we would live our dream life together in Australia!
~ Two of those plans have always guided us, whether renting or owning ~
i) Live a simple life together:
For us this included living in the country, with more land than house.
Have a small comfortable house that is easy to clean, maintain, heat and cool.
Grow as much food as possible and live as sustainably as we can.
Make as much as we can rather than buying everything.
ii) If we have to have debt it only be a small mortgage on our home. Save up for everything else.
It is so exciting shifting into a new home and making plans to renovate.
If I could give my younger self renovating advice I would say slow and steady wins the race, don’t be afraid to cross things off the wish list if they aren’t cost effective or a bit too unrealistic for current circumstances.
Keep to your budget.
And yes you were right, laying in bed at night thinking up cost effective renovating plans is far more fun than the alternative of over spending, being in too much debt and laying awake worried sick!
I’m not going to sugar coat it, there were many times when pressure from those close to us really gave us a hard time, in fact some became very annoyed with us for not having gone into huge financial debt like they had. They were p*ss*ed off, angry and really let us know it. To them it didn’t matter about the debt it was “saving face” why shouldn’t we be like the others who had the big house and two expensive cars in the driveway, designer clothes. We were embarrassing them. We weren’t in their eyes “successful” without the extras (big house, big cars, designer clothes) obtained by going into debt.
We would get comments like:
Why can’t you just buy a big house like us? What’s wrong with being in debt? We are $$$$ in debt…are you saying there is something wrong with us??? To that reply we would say no there isn’t anything wrong with your decisions but they have nothing to do with us, we have to make our own decisions. We are doing what feels right for us.
We would even get throw away comments like;
Oh you can afford it…you don’t have much debt…you can pay for it instead of us…
You must be poor if you can’t afford to get x,y,z amount of debt. Actually we were eligible for x,y,z amount of debt we just didn’t take the financial institution up on their offer of a large housing loan or their credit card offers.
~ You can’t fool proof your future but you can be organised as much as can be ~
Just like gardening or when choosing to care for animals on our property I don’t plan for only the best conditions, I plan for what could be the worst conditions. I’ve never been arrogant enough to believe in the theory of “it won’t happen to me.”
Many of you know that 7 years ago I had an accident, the spike of the metal garden rake went completely through my hand, my life changed that day forever and I have restricted mobility, it also restricts my employment possibilities (read unemployable).
If we had taken those big loans and maxed out those credit cards the bank had offered I would have been working full time to help pay it all off. That accident made me unemployable. We went back and did the sums, a hypothetical experiment of what if we had taken on every debt the financial institution had offered us. There is no doubt in Michael’s or my mind that we would have gone bankrupt, we wouldn’t have been able to make the repayments, I wouldn’t have been able to return to full time work. Michael also had to take weeks off to care for me being self employed if you don’t work you don’t get paid (I had injured myself when falling, couldn’t walk, couldn’t even bathe or dress myself without his help).
But instead we had a low mortgage and could easily make repayments, we had money saved and could easily afford for Michael to take time off to look after me. I worked in the home before my accident, I didn’t get paid BUT I saved our family money by the work I did. I home schooled Lil, cared for a big productive vegetable garden, small orchards ( a total of 75 fruit trees) berry patches, food hedges, I had stockpiled groceries in the pantry, frozen pre prepared meals in the freezer, fruit & vegetables from last seasons harvests, I made a lot of house hold items that reduced our grocery bill. It allowed us to save, put money by for an emergency should it happen.
We could get through this time, as stressful as it was, it wasn’t financially stressful as it could have been had we been in debt like others previously mentioned had wanted us to be. And where were these people who had given us such a hard time about not going into debt like they had? There were phone calls to see how I was, the offer of making us a couple of meals if we lived closer, their intentions were caring and I appreciated it. Michael and I had watched on as marriages deteriorated due to too much financial stress, we arrived at a couples house for lunch one day to hear the couple arguing about credit card debt, to see the husband chopping up the wife’s credit card and locking another in a safety box. Not the best thing to walk in on or way to start a Sunday get together. I’ll never forget the looks on our Lil’s and their kids faces as they saw the arguing. It was so sad to see this once loving couple speak to each other the way they did.
I appreciated even more how Michael and I stick together, how we don’t allow other people (regardless of how well intentioned they are) to meddle, how we make decisions for us, that feel comfortable only for us, deep down in our hearts making decisions that are based on our fundamental needs and not on things that we only just “want”.
I leave this post here for now, just know dear reader that when I was younger I ran up foolish credit card debt, I was encouraged to do it by people who were close to me, I’m fully accountable for that debt, I didn’t listen to my own heart, I didn’t value my own counsel.
It wasn’t until I met Michael that he helped me have a healthier relationship with money, finance & debt.
Where ever you are in your financial journey, own it, be accountable for it, if you aren’t happy with it (like I was for so many years) work on ways you can change it.
It all begins, one step at a time.
Sending Light & Love,
Planning our life together.
November 13, 2019