I personally love playing the would you rather game.
You know… where you ask sorta dumb questions and see what people say like:
- Would you rather have legs as long as your fingers or fingers as long as your legs?
- Would you rather eat pizza every day or salad?
- Would you rather pay off all of your debt or invest $100,000?
- Would you rather have your laundry done for you or your dishes?
However, what I have come to quickly learn is that people are very DIFFERENT. We all share unique perspectives that are unique to us, which make our choices different.
That is the reason I will never tell someone they SHOULD do something.
Do I think more people should take their personal finance more seriously? You bet.
Considering the fact that not even 1 in 2 adults has a savings account with a comma… aka at least $1,000 something tells me as a whole more people should probably read up a little on money.
But when it comes to would you rather invest, pay off debt, or save – well that is a personal choice. Here is what I mean.
When we decided to take our student loans serious.
It was actually October 2014 and I remember it vividly.
My future wife Lauren (Girlfriend at the time) was studying for her boards, set to graduate in December with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy.
Because she was spending so much time at the public library she ran across a book titled, Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. She decided to check it out knowing that her student loans were adding up close to $270,000.
On the other hand, I had just bought a truck that month, a brand new black on black GMC Sierra using $6,000 from savings and $7,000 from my trade in.
As I read Ramsey’s book and he said buying a brand new car is like throwing $100 bills outs the window I realized how dumb my purchase was.
I too had some student loans, my original balance of $40,000 was somewhere around $16,000 – $20,000, I can’t 100% recall. Even so, at that point but we really were not that serious about our debt.
We were not married, we didn’t talk money together, and even though we lived together we were still 9 months from being engaged.
Fast forward to May 2015 and I realized that ultimately we were going to have to make some changes. I had begun the process of looking for rings and knew long term I would be marrying into some hefty student loan debt.
Yet, even at that point we had really not taken much action. Which has come to teach me that:
Big decisions, like paying off thousands in student loans or deciding to get all in for your future, NEVER HAPPEN OVERNIGHT.
It would not be until February 2016 that we really got serious.
Like the money and the 10% Rule, Baby Steps First.
Using a timeline, our baby steps would look something like this:
Oct 2014: Bought truck & read Total Money Makeover
May 2015: Started shopping for rings & Bought real estate property
July 2015: Traded in truck for more affordable car, bought engagement ring.
July 2015: Got engaged on beach trip (last trip until free Lake trip in Sept of 2018).
July 2016: Got married, not financing a single piece of the wedding.
October 2016: Paid off my student loan.
November 2016: Started using equity to payoff student loans, starting with $261,000. Also owed a few thousand on my car. Paid off my car to use cash towards student loans.
July 2017: Attempted to sell land, no luck.
March 2018: Using tax return, paid off over $17,000 in one month in student loans. Implemented third $40,000 HELOC payment.
October 2018: Sold land and used net profit of $34,000 to payoff student loans.
So as you can see… some four years later after reading a book and starting to think just a little bit differently, the big home runs started to add up.
And this is exactly why I blog about money!
I know most people will read what I write and say that is great for them. Some are even skeptical and try to figure out how every dollar doesn’t add up or get wrapped up in how much we make… I call them Reddit people.
But getting wrapped up in semantics will never change YOUR situation.
I write about money so hopefully you read it and go, “Oh that’s cool, maybe I will make this small adjustment.”
When I post would you rather questions I hope people realize there are two sides to every story. Sure in the long run you can invest and save, but what if you are debt free?
Could you invest and save more, and do more fun stuff?
What if that major financial crisis that 1 in 4 people will experience according to the Federal Reserve occurs and you are still saddled with debt?
Or what if you decide you would like to take a mini-retirement but can’t because you have debt or not enough saved?
Most of it boils down to long term thinking. Long term thinking always wins. Long term thinking is why Warren Buffet is rich.
But long term thinking doesn’t occur in an instant. It starts with small steps in the right direction.
Just like hiking up a mountain, you take a few small steps. You realize there be some pain involved and at times it might suck.
But before you know it you are on top of the mountain looking back and you can’t believe what you accomplished.
That is what it will be like in 2019 for us. At that point we will have $35,000 in debt and it will be in our HELOC. Mark my words, I do the math in my head weekly, sometimes daily.
We won’t owe a single dollar in student loan debt and we won’t have a car payment or credit card payments.
We will have the ability to say YES to more then we say NO. But just 4 years ago I wouldn’t have believed any of that was possible.
So I will end with this:
Q: Would you rather keep doing what you're doing, or would you rather implement some small changes that may lead to so some huge successes down the road?
Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $300,000 in student loans with his wife in less than five years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post, and more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, being outside, traveling, and helping others with their finances! I got serious with money when I used Personal Capital to track my finances.