Life is like a mountain. Sometimes there is no way to climb back down that mountain. When you are at the peak, the only thing you can do is take a gigantic leap of faith and trust your wings.
Lately I’ve been feeling so lost. I’m at a crossroads and trying to figure out what to do. Where I am currently reminds me of a similar situation three years ago where my husband and I found ourselves at a different crossroads, and together we held hands and jumped into the great unknown. And not only did we fly, but we soared, and we have never looked back. I am trying to take comfort in the fact that I’ve been here before, and that trusting my wings led me, and my husband, to amazing new heights we could have never imagined.
At the same time, what I’m going to be writing about scares me. Why? Because of one simple word. Stigma. But, that is exactly why I am writing this post. I am all about breaking down the barrier of stigma. I am all about discussing issues that not everyone wants to talk about. I do it all the time with mental illness, and today I’m going to break down another barrier. Even if it’s scary.
Many times throughout my blog I have talked about, or hinted at the fact that my husband and I live debt free. I always said I would discuss this in more detail, and today I’m going to do just that. I feel today is a good day to talk about it because I am feeling lost, and I need the reminder that sometimes when you let go, and trust the great unknown, amazing things can happen.
Everything for us changed three years ago. It started with me getting help for my eating disorder. It led to my husband and I embracing an all-natural lifestyle and educating ourselves as much as we could. This path led to us getting healthier, mentally and physically and completely changing the way we thought about everything. But there was one important leap that we made together that radically set us on a new direction we didn’t see coming. Three years ago my husband and I declared bankruptcy.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make. We were drowning. We had grown up in a culture where it was ok to have credit cards. Where it was ok to have debt. How many times have you heard someone say to you that debt is the American way? So what that you couldn’t pay the credit card off, “just as long as you could make the minimum payments.” We lived that life for so long. Medical bills piled up. Credit cards would get maxed out just trying to pay for groceries, bills, etc… What were we doing to ourselves? Our paychecks were just going towards paying credit card bills, which then in order to keep living (gas, food, utilities), we had to charge to a credit card! It was an endless cycle with no end. Before we knew it we were over $30,000 in debt! Something needed to drastically change.
As my husband and I got healthier through our all-natural lifestyle we realized that not only did our mental and physical health have to change, but so did our financial health. We could not keep living like we were. We weren’t enjoying life. We were just trying to stay afloat. And there was no end in sight.
The first few times my husband brought up declaring bankruptcy to me, I was against it. I had been brought up to think that declaring bankruptcy was the worst thing you could ever do. It was admitting defeat. It was admitting you were weak. I was completely against doing it. But, the more we talked about it, and talked to other people who had gone through it, together we realized that by declaring bankruptcy it didn’t mean we were weak. No, it meant we were strong. It meant we were strong enough to admit that we fought a good battle, but we needed help. It meant that we were strong enough to admit that something needed to change.
There is so much stigma about declaring bankruptcy, but you wouldn’t believe how many people we knew in our everyday lives, that when we mentioned we were declaring bankruptcy, they had told us that they too had done it! Why was it a subject that was kept so much in the shadows? Why is there so much stigma, and the sense of needing to be “hush, hush”, around declaring bankruptcy.
My husband and I made a promise to each other. By declaring bankruptcy, we were never again going to let ourselves go back into the lifestyle of debt. We had been there. And we were done. No more credit cards. No more just charging things. We were pressing the huge reset button, and we were out.
It was a scary process. It took a lot of time. There was a lot of paperwork to fill out. When we finally declared bankruptcy, when everything was filed and approved in the court, we felt a massive weight lift off of our shoulders. But then the fear of the unknown set in. Suddenly we had no credit cards. We had no safety blanket. All we had was the money in our checking account. Nothing more.
It was a scary time readjusting, realizing that now we had to do things differently. We started prioritizing wants and needs. We made a budget. We start reevaluating what was important in our life. We sold what we no longer needed. When we finally saved up a little bit, we were able to open a savings account and that was huge for us! It was only $25, but it was just a feeling of “Wow! We saved $25! We can do this!”
It is three years later and we are still living debt free! We have never looked back. It took time to see how our new way of life was going to work, but once we started on this new, unknown adventure we knew that this was the right path for us. In those three years we have been able to pay off my college loan ahead of schedule! We have saved money to go on trips, to fall back on when times get hard, or to get things that we “want”. Our bills are now all paid for straight from our checking account which is essentially cash. No more credit. No more borrowing. No more living above our means. To think that we had ever lived differently is mind blowing. We used to buy into what society dictated, that debt was fine, it was the American way. But, once we realized that no, we didn’t have to live that way, our life changed dramatically!
Don’t get me wrong. There are times where money is super tight. We’re still learning. But, my husband and I get through those tough times together. Somehow the Universe always provides for us. Somehow there is always a way. Right now we are going through some tough times because I’m not working. I get scared because we don’t have that “safety net” anymore. But, at the same time, I know that “safety net” really wasn’t a safety net at all. It was not helping us live our best life. It was only dragging us further into a black hole where there was no end in sight.
Above all else, my husband and I want to enjoy life to it’s fullest. And living debt free helps us to do that. It has been a wild and scary adventure at times, but in the end, it was all worth it. It has been one of the best adventures that my husband and I have ever done, and are still doing. We enjoy life more now each day because now we aren’t drowning. We don’t owe anyone anything. The money we work hard for is now ours. No one else’s. It doesn’t have to go pay credit cards bills and interest. Now our money helps us live! How amazing is that?
Declaring bankruptcy might not be for everyone. But for us, we needed to hit that giant reset button. We realized that we were so far in over our heads, we had to do something drastic. And together, we took a big leap of faith into the unknown and trusted our wings. And together we soared!
If you are looking into living debt free these two books offer excellent advice and are available in the My M.U.D. Life bookstore powered by Amazon.com.
- Love Your Life Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze
- Oola: Find Balance In An Unbalanced World