Here in the Davis household we are doing the happy dance today! After almost 6 years of recovering from serious financial devastation, we can actually see and feel the results of our hard work and sacrifice. We are stepping out of the black hole and beginning to raise our arms in triumph! We did it …How you might ask, by working together, supporting each other and finding a strong determination that we didn’t know we had. There wasn’t a magic formula, the perfect business or the luck of winning the lottery, no we picked ourselves through a lot of blood, sweat and tears and finally after what seems like a lifetime, we are moving through the light at the end of the tunnel!
The events this week prove that, they were tangible, and concrete. They are just what I have been waiting for to confirm that the worst is over. Not that I didn’t notice the balances steadily decreasing or our debts getting checked off one by one, but the rollercoaster ride seemed never-ending. However when we paid our last car payment and finally received the “Paid, satisfied and discharged” documents for an outstanding 2nd mortgage, I knew in my heart that we were actually beating this economic crisis and were back on track!
To think a few short years ago when we lost everything in the wake of this messed up economy we had no idea how we were going to feed our children, pay our bills or even begin to settle our debts. And now here we are to say it can be done. We are living proof that this economy need not get the best of you! Will it happen overnight, no. Will it be harder than you anticipated, Yes. But if you focus and work hard you will come out stronger than ever before.
In our journey, we have met so many people who have similar stories to our own, and sadly we aren’t the only family who this economy has hit really hard. You may be feeling the effects yourself, or know someone else who is also, which is why I decided to share my “2 cents” in case there was someone out there who felt as helpless as we have, and needed to know that losing your job, your house, your friends or even yourself need not be the end. Trust me, you can get through these hard times with the right attitude, determination and guts.
What made things turn around for us? Instead of being victims, we made some hard decisions and changed our lives drastically. In a previous post ( titled: Is your thinking toxic?) I shared some of our choices and a bit of our story, so I won’t bore you again, but what I do want to point out is that those choices paired with the little daily sacrifices helped us get to where we are today. Believe me it wasn’t anything major that put us over the tipping point, but all the little things that added up over time that moved us forward and eventually got us back on track. So in hopes of helping someone out there, I wanted to share some of the “daily choices” we made that helped us recover:
- Missing out on the traditions of Vegas, Maine and Float trips with family and friends
- Saying “no” more often than we wanted to our children
- Living within a strict and limited budget (yes a family of 4 can survive and recover on less than $2000 a month)
- Committing to never using Credit again
- No smart phones
- No HBO, Cinemax or anything other than basic cable
- In home date nights
- Contributing to a Roth IRA instead of buying new clothes
- Dealing with the inconvenience of sharing 1 car with 3 other drivers
- Camping vs “real” vacations
- No “spa” days (you got it, no mani/pedi or any other “necessities” – I think this was one of the hardest for me )
- Skype vs in person visits
- Minimal visits to the kids at college (ok so this was harder than the no spa days)
- Many a birthday and christmas with no gifts
And that’s just what I could think of off the top of my head, and I get that everyone’s lifestyles are different and you may feel that there is no way you can fix things. But I do know that no matter what your situation, applying some simple adjustments no matter how small they may seem can really add up over the long run.
These last years have been humbling, humiliating, hard and horrific. And not just because we “gave up” all that stuff. The most difficult thing about our financial situation was dealing with our pride and struggling with the mindset that we were “failures”. But in hindsight that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It took a while for me to see that we aren’t failures in any way. In fact we are far from that. To be able to come back after what we went through in just 6 short years is anything but a failure.
Sure there were times that I didn’t know how we would make it, and times where I hated myself as a parent for not providing “enough”. But the reality is, this experience has really taught all of us some valuable lessons about needs, wants and necessity. It’s taught us how to overcome the obstacles that life can place in our path, and shown us what you can do if you have a strong enough desire to change your circumstances.
I am so proud of our success and the fact that we did it on our own with no handouts. But most importantly, I must thank my children who continue to be our inspiration through it all. I am grateful that the worst is behind us and know that if we keep doing what we are doing, have faith and be patient we will ensure that we can complete this journey and come back stronger and better than before!