As a 16 year-old, I was pretty certain I’d be a high-powered CEO at the helm of a Fortune 500 company making a few million dollars a year. Then, life happened. I went to college, nearly drowned myself in student loans, got married and had kids. At the outset of our marriage we were in over $60,000 in debt. We were so smart that we went on to add another $60,000. Thankfully, we rebounded and paid everything off in 2013, but the road was not easy.
As a result, my fantastical definition of success had to change a bit. I still envision myself being a successful business owner, but it’s got to be in a way that allows me be true to my life values: being responsible to my family and active in my community.
God sure does have a sense of humor in these things. Not only am I a stay-at-home mom who gets to home school her kids, but we moved to the inner city to establish ourselves financially and give back to those around us. Why the inner-city? Well, it’s the only place we could get a home with no debt.
The typical American goes into debt up to their eyeballs to “enjoy” (well really regret and agonize over) the perceived safety and access to opportunity in the suburbs or similar upscale neighborhoods. Not us. We had enough of debt and knew the potential of that risky transaction to ruin our relationships and hinder our ability to get ahead financially. We said a polite “no” to debt- forever. I am not sorry. No. In fact, we haven’t looked back. Life is actually pretty awesome with no debt.
Though I don’t have the Rolls-Royce Phantom I thought I would have by now, I am not sad and have no regrets. (I’ll get it one day, though.) What I do have is a chance to spend the fleeting years of childhood with my kids and the opportunity to be deeply involved in a community of beautiful people.
Financial wellness is not only about having, but also about being. I am honored that I can be the person I need to be to leave a legacy of character, integrity and financial stability to future generations.
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