The Weight of It

Thank you all for your input. The unanimous opinion was to not spend the money, but instead pay off my debt and work on the yard when I can actually afford it. I suppose I knew that was the right decision, but it clearly wasn’t the one I wanted to make. Sometimes it feels like I’m never going to pay off that damned $7,000. It’s hard to put so much of my life on hold until it’s all paid off. When there is already so little in my life that feels like it’s just for me, it’s hard to sacrifice those few things I might enjoy. Sometimes I feel like I have absolutely nothing left to motivate me, nothing that I can call my own. I can’t buy clothes, I can’t buy books, I can’t go out with friends much (not that I have any friends asking me to go out), I can’t get my daughter birthday presents (I am SO THANKFUL that my parents are treating us to Disneyland, it’s as much a present for me as it is for my daughter), I can’t really do… anything fun or frivolous for another year… maybe two? It kind of sucks.

We bought our house at just the right time. It was a miracle, really, that we found it and that our offer was accepted and that our mortgage was approved and that we were able to actually buy a frigging house in the most competitive housing market in the country. We’ve been incredibly lucky with our tenants and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t actively stop and thank the powers that be for our house and the fact that we bought it when we did. The housing market here is CRAZY right now. Houses are going for 30% over asking and people are paying with cash. The tech boom has take the chronic housing shortage of SF and driven it to mythic proportions. People are spending well over a million dollars for 800 square feet in even the less desirable neighborhoods. It’s insane right now.

Rents aren’t much better. If we had stayed in our mold-infested shit hole of an apartment until Monito was born, and THEN tried to move, we’d surely be spending $3000 a month to rent 1000 square feet in an isolated, foggy neighborhood. Our mortgage isn’t that bad considering what people are paying in rents these days.

But all that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a BIG mortgage. And sometimes the weight of it feels burdensome. I don’t regret buying our house–I never have and I truly doubt I ever will–but it’s a lot of responsibility, and it’s something we treasure that we could one day up and lose.

The reality is, if we hadn’t bought our house, we wouldn’t have fallen $10,000 dollars into debt. Of course, we’d also be tearing our hair out trying to live with two kids in 800 sq ft of mold infested misery, circling the block five hundred times to find parking, hoarding quarters to wash cloth diapers in a shared laundry machine and sitting in unrelenting traffic every day on the way home from work. I absolutely believe our debt is worth not living where we used to live, but it’s hard sometimes.

It’s true that we don’t need much. Monito has plenty of clothes and toys from when Osita was small. Osita is well taken care of by her grandparents. But it’s hard not to be able to indulge in anything for either of them. This is my last baby and I haven’t gotten to buy him ONE cute outfit yet. He’ll be in 12-18 month clothing in a couple months and I’ll have missed out on buying him even one adorable baby outfit. My last baby’s infant hood will be over and I won’t have gotten to revel in the sweet smallness of it. It’s just hard to watch this time go by, knowing I’m missing my last chance to do some of these things. They aren’t the important things, I recognize that, but they are fun and I love them and I know I’ll look back on this time with lingering regret that we couldn’t afford to enjoy it in the way we wanted.

It all just feels so… restrictive. Between the calorie counting and financial tracking, there is barely any room to breath. Every choice is scrutinized. Every decision revisited and judged. There is no room for error or mistakes. I can never reward myself for a job well done with a treat, because I can’t afford the calories of a random ice cream or hot chocolate, or the money it would cost to get one. I guess in that way, it’s nice to be dealing with both at the same time, because everything I don’t eat saves me both money AND calories–killing two birds and all that–but it also means I REALLY can’t have that ice cream or that hot chocolate. Or anything else I might want, either.

{Right now I have a gnarly canker sore on the very tip of my tongue. If I just stopped messing with it, it would probably go away without me hardly noticing it, but instead I bite at it and poke at it and won’t leave it the fuck alone and it just hurts more and more as the day wears on. My financial issues are like this, if I just accept them, and stop brooding over them, they wouldn’t be a big deal, but instead I through myself monthly pity parties and get myself all down in the dumps about it. So dumb. I need to stop biting at this damn canker sore!}

It will get better. I know this. And ultimately, I want to live this way, not eating dumb crap for no reason, not having to dangle “treats” for myself for motivation. I should be able to make responsible choices just because they are the right choices to make. I shouldn’t need to reward myself. And I shouldn’t feel so deprived just because I can’t get or do what I want for a couple of years. Hopefully these restrictions will be temporary, but the lessons I’m learning from them will last a lifetime.

Do you ever feel restricted by a diet or budget? How do you deal with those feelings?


7 responses

  1. And that is exactly why you sacrifice now–so you don’t spend the rest of your life feeling like this. It really is only temporary, but you do have to make the sacrifice. Otherwise you end up like a couple of bloggers I try not to read who get deeper and deeper into debt until interest is eating up most of their income. It is really hard to make ends meet when most of your income is going to debt servicing. 7 k is manageable and won’t take that long to get out of. But without sacrificing it will grow with any emergency and can become a huge liability. You don’t want to still be feeling guilty about spending money 10years from now.

    We cut to the bone when we had debt out of school- probably too much. But it put us in so much of a better place. It really is easier when your money is working for you instead of against you, and most of us aren’t trust fund babies, so it requires som sacrifice to live within our means and help our money grow.

    In the meantime, do thing of creative ways to get what you want, like free plants or additional income. Because if you keep buying things with debt, then you’re never going to be free.

    And, another alternative is to go hardcore and make more sacrifices over a shorter amount of time, if two years seems too long. Dave Ramsey is one potential way to dothat– live like no one else. There are a lot of great personal finance blogs out there too, to help make temporary sacrifice more fun.

  2. I was going to say nearly the same thing as nicoleandmaggie did. It WILL be worth it. And there are ways around getting that debt paid off sooner. One way is to adjust your tax withholdings so you have more $$ per month to devote to paying that bill off, maybe sooner than next year. Another way is to cut even deeper, budget-wise, and really trim everything. Or sell some items and/or take more work on to bring in more income. There are myriad options on how to do all of this, and I, too, love Dave Ramsey for the way he approaches it.

    That said, the intellectual “knowing it will be okay” it doesn’t help the FEELINGS of anxiety/stress/frustration. Restrictions are hard, and frustrating – particularly when you have young kids and 99% of your life is spent being responsible and taking care of other people’s needs. It sucks.

    But if it helps, you’re not alone. I didn’t work much in March and April, and we have gotten some huge and necessary bills in the past few months, so not only are we restricting, but we don’t even get to benefit from seeing our debt payoffs snowball, because we’re spending our time saving so that we can pay cash for everything. I just found out yesterday that my car’s days are numbered, and I have no idea how we’re going to save $10-15k to buy a car outright. Will probably need to cut even deeper in our budget than we already are, and I’m going to have to be more aggressive about working more, I suppose.

  3. Agree with both above, it will all be so worth it when you are FREE from debt. Calorie deficit and severe budgeting are both temporary measures that get you back on track. Maybe brainstorm some free/healthy “treats” you can reward yourself with? I know we SHOULDN’T need treats, but we all do. It’s hard when the kids are little, because you don’t really have time for things like “go for a long walk on a nice day” or “read a great book”—its quicker and easier to reward ourselves with an ice cream or a new dress, but all of us have other things we enjoy and that “fill our cups” that won’t break the bank or the diet, you just have to be creative. Check nicoleandmaggie’s blogroll, there are some good frugal-living bloggers that have neat ideas for how to stretch a dollar and still have a fun life.
    See my post later today re: how I feel about dieting. In one word: blergh.

    • I think that getting out of debt is easier than dieting because with debt the snowball works for you– money that used to go to interest now goes to principal so the more you pay off the easier it gets (and once you start investing, the interest makes more principal on its own!), but with dieting the body is always trying to sabotage by making it harder to lose weight the more you lose. I guess paying down debt is more like exercising/getting in shape in terms of how it gets easier the more you do it.

  4. I was just going to refer to you to this post: But I see you already commented on it! That really struck a chord with me this morning, to change the dialogue in my head from “i can’t” to “i don’t.”

    I agree with the ladies above that it will be worth 2 yrs of feeling like this to have the rest of your lifetime to NOT feel like this. That sure doesn’t make it easier in the meantime though, I know. 😦

    Hang in there, and see if there are any free activities in your area to do. The music in the park concert we went to last night is a great example of that – it was free and so much fun for all of us!

  5. Not sure if it would be helpful, but Dan Ariely has a part in The Honest Truth about how denying ourselves is a muscle, one that must get built up AND one that can become painful from overuse. That denying yourself everything everywhere can cause more problems than giving yourself small yeses to offset the larger noes. You probably need to read the whole chapter to get what he means, but if it’s in the library, you can find the chapter quickly. Oh — and just Googled and found this piece on the “moral muscle”:

  6. Oh, I am with you! I feel like I have to deny myself everything, financially, and the time until our debts are paid off is still so far away, it feels like it’ll be forever. And then when we are finally making some progress, something happens like the used car we just bought dies or my daughter is born early and spends 3 weeks in the NICU and we end up with more bills. I’m starting to doubt that one day it will end. And when I feel that way, it makes it hard to keep sacrificing. I think Ana is right, though; we all need treats. You can’t just deny yourself for years. We just have to choose treats that don’t totally derail us, I guess.

    Wishing you luck.

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