People poke fun of us a lot about our money habits. It is usually in jest and we laugh right long with them. I rarely get offended. I get it. We are weird. We've made some choices with our money that are against the grain.
Years of financial strain and back-breaking debt, we decided to break the rules when it came to money management. We saw how other people handled money and we did the opposite. We stopped living like other people told us to we "should" live and got serious.
The funny thing is that once we ditched these common money rules, our net worth slowly began to grow. Our finances became simple and manageable. Our life was filled with more peace.
Here are some common rules about money we like to break:
Rule #1. All Work, NO play.
OUR RULE: Life is more than WORK.
We value work in this house. Our children see us work. Work is important. Work is a good thing. We work hard, but work is not ALL of who we are.
We have learned to step back and set life goals. We did this before we ever made a financial plan or got out of debt. What do we value? What do we want to do with our lives? If we had money, how would we spend it or give it? Once we got all these ideas and dreams on paper, we set BIG goals.
If you know your BIG goals, then you are no longer a hamster in a wheel. You work for a purpose. You live for a purpose. You are more well-rounded human. Work is a tool, a blessing to get your towards your goal.
Rule #2 Debt is the only Way.
Our RULE: Cash is the only way.
Debt has never served me well in adulthood. I have lived just enough life to know that debt is a slippery slope. Sure you can use debt to gain free things, but I've also seen debt destroy relationships, dreams, and marriages.
Our goal is zero payments. We pay cash for cars and are close to having our home paid for. We talk regularly with our kids about how we will not take our loans for college. Debt is not apart of our financial vocabulary. We save, we plan, and we pay cash.
Rule #3 Kids are expensive.
Our Rule: Kids need a warm home, good food, lots of love, and a basic wardrobe. The rest is non-essential.
Yes, having kids costs money, but almost 12 years into this parenting gig and I am certain we overspend on our kids a lot. I think parents today are under a lot of pressure to dress our kids in expensive clothes and participate in overpriced activities.
We decided a long time ago we would value time together more than time apart while our kids were young. We choose not to buy into the theory that kids need to play expensive sports to keep up with their peers. This means, no traveling sports teams or competitive activities. We have learned that kids don't value the MONEY we spend as much as they value the TIME we spend with them.
We talk to our kids a lot about work and money. When they ask for things, we use language like "want" and "need". We buy our kids a basic wardrobe in every season and rarely eat out, but that is not because we can't afford to live otherwise. We value teaching our kids that money is not always to be spent. Money is to be saved, invested, and given.
Rule #4 Look like everyone else
Our rule: Stay true to ourselves. We play to an audience of ONE.
We have all felt the pressure from time to time to fit in. It happens in adulthood more than we'd like to admit. Depending on our work, different industries can add another layer of social norms telling you how to spend your money. It can be exhausting.
We can feel pressure to have nicer clothes or move into a bigger home, but it can also be reverse. We can feel pressure to not buy a bigger home or nicer car even when we can afford too. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how YOU should spend YOUR money.
We have chosen to tune it all out. We know what we value as a family and we spend our money accordingly. We pay cash and know we can afford what we buy. When people make fun or question it, we let it go.
Our faith plays a major role in how we spend our money. I pray daily that I would be a good steward of what we are given. I am confident that God's way of handling money is the best way. I tune out all the other voices.
The truth is, we live in time when information about personal finance is abundant. It can get so confusing about what is the right way to deal with our money. Don’t over complicate things. Simple is good.
Think about the life YOU want and set goals. Work towards those goals even if your friends and family poke fun at you. It's okay. Have fun, pay off your debt, and pay cash. Don’t fall victim to the critics. Break the rules, increase your wealth, and live at peace.