My Personal Struggle With Contentment

After writing this blog for over a year, many people know about my love for budgeting and personal finance. Even friends of my parents are aware! Most times, we get great positive feedback from family and friends who see how hard Jacob and I are working to achieve financial peace. And from the outside, we probably look like we are fine and dandy and super confident in our current situation, but the truth is, I’m really not…

Honestly, I have really struggled with contentment over the last two years as Jacob and I have been so diligent in our finances. We’re at the stage in life where friends are getting married, having kids, buying houses, new cars, going on trips to Europe and then there’s us… Having no clue how friends even afford to have kids, currently living with my parents paying cheap rent, driving a 20 year old Camry until the wheels fall off and my most international trip has been crossing the border in a church bus to Ensenada, Mexico.

I’m not saying this to complain and I hope that this isn’t what is read into this post, but I’m just saying that it’s not easy to live the way we do. We say no to a lot of friends who want to go out to eat a lot, and we say no to ourselves when we think of buying something large, or going on a decent vacation. Fun fact: Jacob and I haven’t gone on a single trip (even weekend getaway) by ourselves since our honeymoon two years ago. And in the back of my mind, I think “Marissa… Be content… Be content… Short term pain for long term gain.”

And then I get on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and I could not feel any worse.

But then I remind myself that what you see isn’t always the truth. For Jacob and I, we want to live a debt free life. Go on vacation, buy a car, and go out to eat when we have the money to do so. Living debt free is a silly concept. At first, you have absolutely nothing to show for it. Most people who don’t know Jacob and I and our goals would probably think we are actually “poor.” Again, we drive a crappy car and live with my parents. We spend $200 a month on groceries, don’t eat out, and don’t go on vacation. But it’s what they don’t see that means the most. Strangers don’t see that we’ve put $70,000 to debt in the last 2 years or that I work an extra job to contribute more to our debt snowball.

In the same way, I have no idea what’s going on in the lives of other people. It’s so easy for me to see someone post about buying a new car or going to Europe for a month and think “wow… They must have a great job and have no other debt if they have all these fancy things.” But did you know that 85% of new cars bought in 2013 were financed? 85%! On the outside, you see someone driving a fancy car, but what you don’t see is that $40,000 car loan.

When I feel down in the dumps about my current situation I have to remind myself of these things:

No One Wins When You Compare

Nope. No one ever wins. You either end up feeling crappy about yourself for not being good enough, rich enough, smart enough, thin enough… Or you end up thinking too highly of yourself! Just don’t do it.

Don’t Judge Someone By Their Outward Appearance

A post on social media will never show you what’s actually going on in someone’s life. And everyone’s posts always make things look better than they are. A family with their brand new truck may look super happy with keys in hand, but you don’t see the mass amounts of debt or the financial stress that is being placed on their marriage. Someone going on that luxury vacation? Sure! They’re going on a vacation with a credit card but they don’t have a dime saved for retirement in 15 years. That couple that lives in a tiny 40 year old house and drive old cars? You probably don’t know that they’re actually millionaires. You’ll NEVER know someone’s situation on the outside looking in, so just don’t even try to guess!

Stay Focused In Your Own Lane

Going off of the first two points, just stay focused in your own lane. If you are working on paying off debt to live a debt free life, then people are initially going to pass you left and right with new gadgets and fancy trips. As hard as it may be to not look over at them and become jealous, focus more on your own situation and goals.

Short Term Pain For Long Term Gain

This is a daily reminder for me when my struggle with contentment comes up. “I can’t afford to go to Europe like him right now, but someday I’m going to get to go and do it right” (as you can see, I REALLY hope to go to Europe someday)! Sacrificing now will enable you to do SO much more later when everyone else is swimming in debt payments.

I hope that this post provided some sort of encouragement. Or even to help you know that you’re not alone! This sure isn’t an easy financial season, but just know that you’re doing the right thing and are not in this by yourself.

Peace and love,

Marissa

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