BF made an observation the other day that took me back to the days of being in debt.
We had been talking about a friend who is going through a rough time financially.
The guy has a lot of debt, is on the brink of losing his house but still finds the money to pay $80 a month in milk.
I mean, I am all for buying milk and not pop for example, but is it so hard to cut back on having less milk and just drinking water, seeing as you don’t have the cash to buy and feed your milk addiction?
So as we were discussing what he could do or where he could cut back (milk obviously being #1), he told me:
Well, if you don’t have the money, even something that people consider a staple like milk, is not affordable any longer. I mean, look at you!
When you were in debt, I remember you cut back on everything.
You didn’t go out to eat, you basically stayed inside and we went for walks because you couldn’t afford anything. The only thing you bought was a bike because we could go biking together for free in the summer as another activity.
You also didn’t buy very much and you even stopped wearing makeup to conserve every penny. I remember your work pants started falling off you from all the weight you were losing from biking so much, and you refused to buy new pants, and made do with a belt to keep them up, because you couldn’t bring yourself to pay $50 for a pair of fitted pants.
Hearing that, took me back.
I don’t remember being or feeling so tight-fisted with my money, but I do remember all the things he’s mentioning.
I do recall in the beginning of my debt journey, spending more than I should have, and learning how to budget properly along the way with a lot of falls off the wagon, but I suppose I was so close to the end of my debt that I could smell it, and nothing, not even an ice cream cone was going to get in my way.
I would cheer every time I could send even $6 towards my debt, because it paid the interest for that day.
I don’t ever remember it being that tough to go through not buying anything except the necessities, but I suppose……. I made it through without a hitch because it was as if my debt clearing would be inevitable, and it was just a matter of time.
It’s the reason why I am torn between suggesting the guy cut on his milk consumption and drink water instead (you can get all that you need from legumes and vegetables), because I don’t want people to kill themselves to get out of debt.
I really don’t advocate that kind of lifestyle, but in BF’s eyes, I was living in exactly like that, although I didn’t feel I was doing it.
Looking back now, I see that I could have been seen as being “crazy” or “debt-obsessed”, both of which were BF’s words for my behaviour in those days…. but I found it just exhilarating and motivating that I could save even $0.10 on something, to funnel it towards my debt.
It’s really funny, how people see your behaviour from their lens and how you judge your own behaviour in return.
It’s the same for minimalism — I don’t feel like we’re extreme minimalists (we have a lot of stuff, at least 3 hotel cartfuls), but in comparison to others, I can see how people can see our situation differently, when comparing to their own.
In that spirit, I can also understand how people shop and spend when they don’t REALLY have the money and should save it for other things, but they don’t see that they have a shopping addiction or problem.
I was there once and in denial for a long time until I slapped myself awake.
It’s funny how memories can change. I look back on my debt as a challenge and something life-changing that I went through, but not a dark, awful time in my life.