Staying home to put water on the fire

After reading my way through the entire Mr. Money Mustache blog in a couple of weeks, one message in particular lodged in my brain. If you have debt, Triple M says, you need to imagine that your head is on fire. Debt is toasting your noggin like a marshmallow.

This helpful image – my head engulfed in flames – has helped me deal with extra expenses trying to sneak into the budget.

Since we weren’t what you’d call “big spenders” to begin with, it was these costly “extras” that actually used to blow our budget. To keep our Dave Ramsey debt snowball rolling, we have to snuff out these expenses

Here are a few examples:

Most years, we spend one long summer weekend in upstate New York on the Saint Lawrence River. It’s part get-away, part family reunion. We enjoy seeing family, and we always have a lot of fun, but for being just one weekend, man is it expensive. We get a hotel, and so we have to eat just about every meal out. (Even when we do our best to pack a few meals, the food bills still rack up.) Then, there’s gas money to get there and cash to pay for whatever fun activities we do. We typically decide whether we’re going around February, and book a hotel on our credit card. This year, it’s a no-go. While we’ll miss seeing everyone, we just can’t stomach the extra expense. Not when we’re working so hard to save every penny. It would be too much of a setback. Someday, relatively soon, we’d like to add travel back into the budget. (But when we finally do, we’re going to be much savvier about how we travel.)

Another example. A well-meaning friend asked us to join her family on a day trip to a local indoor amusement place. Again, we have to remember that our heads are on fire. The amount of money we’d spend on a single day trip like this is just too much right now.

Another friend asked me to attend a local evening out. This total night would have ended up costing me around $35. It just wasn’t worth it for me to go.

Now, to be clear – the thing we value most on this earth is time with our wonderful family and close friends. We’ve continued to joyfully open our home to loved ones in 2019. We’re even planning a party for a friend in a few weeks. We just do it all on a careful budget. Fortunately, good cooking doesn’t have to be expensive, and good conversation is free.


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