In Frugalness and Wealth, ‘Til Death Do Us

The sun was setting as we were out on a walk during a warm summer evening. We were discussing our future financial goals when Chris turned to me and said, “When can we buy more TVs? I wish we had more TVs.”

My reaction was an awkward laugh. More TVs? Really? Bingo. That’s why we’re saving up money to be debt-free and eventually retire early. So, we can buy more television sets! Of course. Why didn’t I think of that?

I went on to explain to Chris how more televisions was not in our plan unless it was really critical to him. We already own one large tv, a 60” in our living room, and aside from that, we have at least 6-8 other screens where we can consume content on various computers, laptops, or mobile devices. We surely don’t need another TV anywhere in the house. In fact, we could probably use a digital detox.

After a few minutes jabbing at him, I think he understood how silly the idea was. Often now, we remark about that conversation when he whines about wanting the latest shiny new object. “Just like we need another TV, right?”

Our frugal journey as a married couple has not been without its ups and downs. I am by nature a saver for doomsday is coming, and he’s a spender for he wants the golden goose now! Though we frequently switch roles depending on what is important to us. When it comes to quality kitchen gadgets (i.e. Vitamix) sign me up.

Chris was never in love with the concept of living a frugal life when we first started out. I, on the other hand, took over our finances while consuming Get Rich Slowly and The Simple Dollar on a regular basis. I fell in love with the concept of living far below your means to save up for financial freedom later. Retire early? Us? That would be awesome.

When we began, it was because we had no other choice. We had to lower our living expenses out of necessity through several hard times. As we’ve gotten to a better financial ground now, it’s no longer about living day to day and more about creating a future we both want to enjoy.

Two weeks ago I mentioned to Chris,

“In about ten years, we can be financially independent if we work hard at it. Then we can start to donate more time or money to charity and give back.”

His immediate reaction was,

“Wait. I’m working to save up money so we can give it away? I don’t want to give it away.”

When it comes to paying off the mortgage in the next five years, we differ as well.

“Chris, we can pay off the mortgage in the next five years and then travel the world.”

“Wait, so I’m going to work hard to pay for a home that you want us to leave for weeks or months at a time?”

Chris would like to travel and spend freely in the summers right now. I feel if we pay off our debt in five years living below our means, we can travel after and do more than we could now. Delayed gratification at it’s finest.

While on this journey, we’ve both supported the goal of debt-freedom being important to us. We’ve worked as a good team in ridding ourselves of almost $200,000 in debt through student loans, car loans, and paying off an underwater mortgage and saving up to never have to borrow money for those things again.

As we approach the coming years ahead of knocking off our final debt, it’s with apprehension I approach it. For one, I read conflicting suggestions of carrying a mortgage and investing vs. not.

For two, we haven’t had long discussions of what we’d like to do after we reach that point. Once we are in the clear, I’d like to continue to build up our savings to open doors to more freedom. I would like to be able to spend more time helping others directly through volunteering or creating content in a way that helps.

While Chris hasn’t expressly said it, I think he hopes to be more like Scrooge McDuck swimming in piles of coin. That sounds painful to me… Jumping into a money bin, ouch.

So, in the next few years, we need to find a common goal to keep us motivated. It won’t include more TVs, for that I am certain.

Luckily, Chris is allowing me to handle the finances and planning. Partly, he’s too lazy. More importantly, he trusts me as I’ve proven through my track record that the debt-reduction the path we’re on is a good one.

On we go and hopefully in a few years, we’ll have an exciting new goal to keep us going that might suit both of our fancies. It’s a problem I’m grateful to have.