How do I balance repaying my $660,000 in debt with living life today? How do I make the best choices in terms of what to spend money on and what not to?
Repaying $660K Debt vs Christmas Presents
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These are my daily challenges in my life as I work on with my wife, getting this debt paid down, figuring out what our options are, what kind of help is available to us.
The question on a daily basis is, what is it okay to spend money on?
I see that I got in this position by constantly saying, “Well, let’s just enjoy life today and don’t worry too much. Oh sure. We’ll just borrow a little bit more money. We can go ahead and buy a house. Let’s go ahead and take those student loans, so that we can go to college, and then we’ll get better jobs later.”
I can see that this was created by a constant lesson, joy today, even if it costs us a lot more tomorrow, and to me this indicates a bit of an imbalance in favor of or focusing on things that cost money to enjoy or making decisions.
For example, sending my daughter to a private school. That was a big expense costing $17,000 in one year alone.
Now, once we look at this debt, we didn’t have nearly this much debt when we made that decision. Thus, looking at this, we see that it’s going to be almost $20,000 next year to send her to the school and we’ve decided, since she can go to kindergarten for free this year, then we will send her to a free school.
Now, that to me balances, she is fine either way, she’s happy to keep going to her school or happy to go to a different one. That is kind of an easy decision because that costs a lot of money and there’s no big downside to sending her to a public school. We had to pay some kind of money one way or another to send her to school this year.
She wanted to go and it was going to be one place or another. Now, it wouldn’t have cost that much, but at another place it still would’ve cost thousands for preschool.
That said, a lot of the more challenging decisions are things like, “Well, should we spend money on Christmas presents? Should we spend money to give Christmas presents to others?”
For both of my sisters, I have been sending each of their kids for a total of five kids, and I actually have a third sister, but she asked me not to talk with her anymore for a while because she wanted to focus on her life and didn’t have time for me. Long story short, and I understand that.
Thus, they are the two sisters I’m talking to and their five kids. I was sending $100 a year as Christmas gifts. Now, this was perfectly reasonable when I was sending $100, so $500 total out of making over a hundred thousand dollars that year in profit, and without having a lot of this debt.
Now we still had the mortgage, we still had the student loans, but all the other debt did not exist.
So, it seemed pretty reasonable to send out some generous Christmas gifts. And this year I had the conversation for Christmas…
I don’t know what to do with this video. This video is just kind of difficult to make, kind of awkward. It’s challenging and also I’ve started and stopped recording in a couple of times. I guess I might as well just persevere on it.
I talked to my sisters about sending Christmas presents to them and I think it’s important to show up if I can. Thus, what I ended up doing this year was sending each child $40 instead of $100, which is still $200, but that’s a lot less than $500.
I looked at it and I could say, “Well, do I feel good about not sending anything at all? Should you send anything at all when this is your financial status?”
Well, I still do have some money in the bank and I value being there and showing up at Christmas a lot, that’s something I remember as a kid, my aunts and uncles sending me $20 for Christmas. I really appreciated that and I thought of them, and I knew they were thinking of me even though I didn’t get to see them that often.
These five nieces and nephews, I only get to see them once a year or so, and I send birthday and Christmas cards to show up whenever it’s time for that, so twice a year.
With other expenses, what do we buy for Christmas?
Laura and I were talking about buying an AeroGarden and we decided to buy it and it turns out I think we’re going to actually get it for free because they sent us two of them and they approved us to refund one of them back, which costs $150 in shipping.
We bought an AeroGarden for our big Christmas present for $600 and Laura and I talked about this, and the AeroGarden actually grows food and it has the ability to pay for itself and actually make a profit in time.
All we need to do is buy the seed pods, which are maybe $30 to fill up almost all of them, and then those seedpods should be able to grow 50 to 100 plus dollars every time, with the LED lights, of lettuce for us, which I can buy at the store consistently.
Sometimes there are recalls on them. Sometimes it’s lower quality. It’s a lot nicer to just use some scissors and snip off some lettuce every day and eat that for the greens. That also stops me from needing to buy things like croutons as often or salad dressing.
It helps me eat even healthier, and that way, buying the AeroGarden actually is different from buying something like a couch or where it purely, as soon as you buy it, loses value.
The AeroGarden actually produces something that does make money.
Finally with all of this, it’s just the sheer number of decisions.
Our minds appear to be similar to our bodies in the fact that these bodies, when you have the muscles and work out, they have kind of stamina and endurance, and the more decisions we make with our minds, the more little things we do, the more little choices we make, our minds get to a point of fatigue.
It’s something I’ve done in my life and many of us do this either unconsciously or consciously. We try and minimize the number of decisions we have to make. This is why so many of us are habitual.
We do the same things every single day. I’ve read a lot of success tips from people like Mark Zuckerberg who as far as I understand just has the same set of clothes. He wears the same things all the time to eliminate having to decide what pair of clothes to wear.
As you can imagine with a lot of money and opportunities, things like what to wear could be a very difficult decision-wise, and he may accumulate a huge wardrobe of clothes.
One way to simplify is to just wear the same thing all the time. I guess he has these hoodies in his pants and he basically wears the same thing all the time and not the exact same, he washed them, and I do pretty much the same thing with my clothes.
I have a certain set of shirts and shorts and I just wear those over and over again, and many of us operate like this, every single one of these decisions places a little bit of mental load on me, and then it’s challenging because I’m trying to make some new habits.
I recognize that there was a bit of an imbalance in terms of let’s just spend the money on it and I see that sometimes if I say no to spending money on something, I’ll figure out a way to do it for free or an opportunity will present itself to me.
For example, my hypnotherapist has been extremely generous and she’s allowed me to do sessions with her once every week unless something comes up. So usually it’s maybe once or twice a month, one to three times a month usually. She’s allowed me to do the sessions right now for free, which is very helpful for me. It’s helpful for her. She feels good and it saves me hundreds of dollars a month.
Thus sometimes I’m able to work things out. If I refuse to spend money on it, I’ll get that need met in another way. For example, if I refused to buy groceries, I imagine someone would, probably my wife, would take it and actually she has started buying the groceries for us, which I’ve bought them for years.
What I’m at with all of this is, it’s okay if some of this stuff is challenging and it’s not very obvious, and it doesn’t make sense right away.
I understand that even if these numbers were the opposite, and I was talking about these rows, my bank accounts and I had $660,000, I understand that then there are decisions that go with that.
The nice thing with having these numbers is that no one is asking me for money. When you have money and are making a lot of money, there are always people asking for it, and then those carry their own decisions as well.
When I talk about my financial situation, the nice thing is I’m immune to any requests to, “Hey, will you invest in my company or will you do this or that for me?”
I say, “Well, do you think I should invest in your company with these numbers?”
A guy walked up to me at the gas station the other night and he said, he still was asking me for $15 for a tire or something and I said, “I’ve got $660,000 in debt, $8,700 a month in minimum payments,” and he literally just walked off.
I didn’t even need to keep talking. I didn’t even need to say no. I might’ve actually given him money because I had some in my wallet.
I don’t know what to do. I posted a video before talking about how I was going to Disney with my family and should I spend the extra money, and we ended up spending $236 for me to buy a ticket, and then I ended up regretting it.
I wished I’d just stayed back at the hotel and done some work because I didn’t have much fun at Disney and now I’ve got two more days I can get in admission.
We ended up buying the ticket because it was $134 just to go for one day. Now the nice thing is I’ve learned that I’ve had enough going to Disney. I’m not interested until this debt is paid off at reconsidering Disney. I’m not interested in taking any more Disney trips that it costs so much money, and then I run into all these mental things also.
You listen to books and talk about the mindset, and I think, “Well, if $100 is a lot of money to me, then how am I ready to make a lot of money?”
These mental things that pump you up, you got to forget about small amounts of money and in fact, I’ve refused to carry bills in my wallet for most of this year that were smaller than $20.
I’ve also noticed, if I wear my mind out on a lot of small decisions, I then will often, if I make a bigger decision, I will have essentially burned up a lot of my muscles and I won’t have my full decision-making power sometimes on the bigger decisions, or the more important tasks like stepping back and getting some perspective on what I’m doing.
For example, today, did I already burn myself out on all these little decisions?
Is this the best video for me to have made today?
Is this the best video for me to have released on Christmas Day?
As I look at right now, filming this in advance, presence to be open, I personally have bought almost no Christmas presents because to me I gave my niece and nephews the $40 in cash each and now we’re doing a secret Santa, so I’ll get something for them.
For me, I don’t need to be given out a whole bunch of Christmas presents to anybody with this debt and this is my wife and I’s combined financial situation.
She’s bought lots of Christmas presents for people and that’s a another complication, and I’m grateful Laura and I are doing well at talking about this because this stuff is so challenging.
The nice thing is, I realized today that these numbers were positive instead of negative. Technically they are positive, but if these were bank accounts instead of credit cards and student loans, there’d be different things.
There’s a certain piece that I have to see that if these were all bank accounts, I’d probably feel some obligation to give more, and then that will present, what kind of Christmas presents should I buy since I’ve got $660,000 in the bank?
Shouldn’t I give some nicer Christmas presents to people because I have more money than they do?
Shouldn’t I make some donations to charities since I’ve got so much money, shouldn’t I give some of it away?
The fear can set in with that also, what happens if I lose this money?
I see today that every situation has its ups and downs, and there’s a part of me that I would much rather be telling you about, “Well, I’ve got $660,000 in the bank and I’m trying to decide what to do with it.”
There’s a part of me that thinks that’d be a lot better, but I know better today this is different, life has kind of this uniformity to it. Every situation has its ups and downs and I just thought I’d make this video because this is real.
This is a lot where my time, energy and attention is going, and I’m looking for help, suggestions on how to balance it, how to spend money wisely on things that can make money and help me enjoy my life while avoiding those temptations and getting into spending money on things that actually take my time and energy like Disney.
Help me to be best prepared to fully enjoy the present and to make a financial future that’s much better than this mess.
Thank you very much for watching this.
I love you.
I appreciate the chance to serve you today and I’ll see you in the next video.
You may like to read this post: Can I Make $657,587 Debt Into a Blessing?
Edits from video transcript by Michel Gerard at www.michelgerardonline.com.