Being {Financially} Different

It’s not easy to be different. We learn that in the awkward middle school and high school years. Most people don’t have a goal of standing out because they are different. As an adult, I never really thought about being different or fitting in. I guess that means I’m fortunate to have found people who I had connections with – in college, in my career, and as a parent.

Seven years ago, we decided to be different and took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course. We learned that it’s ok to be weird with your finances and we wanted to be different. We made decisions about our future and our financial goals. We’ve been faced with a few tough decisions over the years, where peer pressure felt pretty strong. Admittedly, it’s a struggle in the beginning with wants over needs versus long-term goals. Our long-term goals have us living a future life that we get really excited about. It can be really hard to pass up a fun opportunity now for a future that you can’t quite touch. But, after some time to really think about it we both come to the same conclusion…most temporary things aren’t worth the financial setbacks when we think about our long-time goals. Sticking to a budget and our financial “morales” of not spending cash that we don’t have will always be the right thing for our family. If we really “need” it, we can save up for it.

One of the things I’m most proud of is our focus. We haven’t gotten distracted by exciting new things. We may not always create a monthly budget and we may have months we spend more than we realize, but our focus doesn’t change. We have multiple savings accounts with automatic monthly transfers to ensure we continue to fund our dreams. From 401K to college for the boys to car fund to holidays/gifts and even a basement fund. {Another thing I’m REALLY proud of. Paying outright to finish our basement. The majority of it has been done by my husband, but the things he has hired out came from our basement fund!} We both have wants and it can be a bummer when we “can’t” buy them, but after a few days of wanting you realize that you don’t actually need it. We have a house full of stuff that I’m constantly putting away, sorting, organizing, and cleaning. We aren’t deprived of anything.

The latest fashion or car isn’t something we needYes, we have our wants for a giant SUV vehicle. We’ve wanted it for more than five years {and maybe I’ve wanted it for most of my life}, but we don’t need it. Right now, a minivan {also not in my original life plan} works perfectly for our family. One of my children has spent the past year crashing his door into my van every time he gets in or out of Bryan’s car. Both of our vehicles are used and we’ve had them for more than 5 years. If they were new, we’d both be sick about it. But instead, it’s part of living with small, reckless children. And also proof of why one of our vehicles doesn’t have doors they can open…We’ll get our dream vehicle one day, when everyone in our house can appreciate and respect the vehicle. But also after we’ve saved for the vehicle. Because those are the things that are important to us. Living a life that’s a little different and maybe not as fun now so we can truly live a life we deserve later.

You won’t always find yourself surrounded by people who share the same opinions. The beauty of life is that everyone gets to make their own decisions and live the life they want. I do hope you are surrounded by people who respect you and your “weird” life choices. You can swap out “finances” with anything – type of school, health beliefs, fitness, food, clothing, anything. It’s important to surround yourself with people who are supportive of your dreams and lifestyle – no matter how weird they are.

Do you have any lifestyle preferences that make you different from your friends? Or do you surround yourself with like-minded people? 

Buying a new vehicle…WITH CASH!

I’ve been writing about finances for a couple of years now. We’re pro cash and budgeting and against credit cards and loans. Basically. Yes, we have a mortgage payment. Yes, we have a credit card. No, we don’t use our credit card. No, we don’t normally use physical cash. *Yes, this applies to my family and I don’t care how your family handles finances. 🙂

In June, we made the biggest cash purchase we’ve ever made. We had our sights set on a new vehicle. Bryan’s car had entered its last leg earlier in the year but we forged through and continued to drive it. Bless Bryan’s hot, sweaty heart because the AC had broken last year and daycare pick up was less than enjoyable when the car had been baking all day. As he loves to do, my husband did a lot of research to determine which car would work for our situation. Last year we decided that we were replacing the car with a car because we already have a Nissan Pathfinder and that’s our “big” car. He narrowed it down to three cars that would fit a convertible forward-facing seat and an infant seat. We test drove one of each and decided any of them would do. Then we got serious about finding one in our range with the right kind of miles and minimal wear. Did I forget to mention, we were looking for used. We went on countless road trips. Filling the Pathfinder with two boys and all their junk. Driving cars and eating lunch around Quinten’s schedule. It was less than enjoyable, but we were doing it. Except we weren’t finding anything that met our criteria. (Read: maybe we’re a little too picky. It did take four years to buy living room furniture. :))

And then we bought a Chrysler Town & Country. We bought a mini van. One day we realized that we needed to make the smartest decision for our family and that wasn’t a four-door car. We needed something that allowed more space than the Pathfinder. We needed something that had storage space after the babies were tucked away in their seats. We wanted something that was big enough that Maximus couldn’t kick the driver seat when he got bored or angry. Bonuses were the automatic doors and DVD player. The Pathfinder has a DVD player, but we’ve only used it a few times. The T&C won’t get much DVD action either, but it’s nice to have the option if we’re in the middle of nap time and the car is a little whiny. Another major bonus is how comfortable it is! Bryan always comments on how nice the seats are. We keep reminding ourselves that it was built for us. It was built for a family and that’s why we love it so much. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the Pathfinder. It just isn’t as easy to use right now. This is a crazy phase of our life. We don’t ever leave the house without a lot of stuff. The T&C helps us feel a little more put together and a little less frazzled. We’ve got cup holders for everyone, floor space for all the bags, leg room for everyone, and window shades for the little guys!


Look at all that space between us!

Saving hasn’t always been easy, but it wasn’t that hard either. Instead of saving up the equivalent to a monthly car payment, we saved up dependent care and tax return money for a couple of years. What made that hard was wanting to spend that big chunk on something else. We knew the waiting would pay off and we were right. It was an amazing high to test drive a car, write a check, and drive it home! They didn’t waste any time cashing our check, but that was fine by us. That made it FINAL.

What’s next you ask? Well, my husband is a planner. So, we’ve got a little more to save to pad our car repair fund. That means when we decide to put new tires on both vehicles, we’ll already have the money. I’ve said it before, budgeting and saving has been a marriage saver for us. Our house would be a stressful place if we spent time worrying about money when there is an ornery baby to watch and a whiny toddler to entertain. We need all the help we can get to lighten the stress in our home. Budgeting and paying with cash does that for us!


Lots of friends fit in one vehicle!

If you knew me at any other point in my life, I was not a mini van person. Not even close. The furthest from it. It turns out that you have to make sacrifices when you’re a parent. Saving up money for a giant SUV wasn’t realistic. We want to use that money on other things, like finishing our basement. Our family priorities are different from my materialistic wants. Maybe someday I’ll get that giant SUV, but it’ll be when my children can buckle themselves into their own seats. 🙂

*Disclaimer: I don’t judge you if you use credit cards or loans. I’m here to tell you there are other options if you want them. It works for our family, but it might not work for yours.