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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Breaking Free Part 4: The Things We Didn't Give Up

It's been two years since Danielle and I started down this road toward debt-free living. It's been a challenge, a fun ride, a ministry, and a blessing, all rolled into one adventure. This week we'd like to look back on our journey, share some of the intricacies of how and why we do it, and hopefully encourage you to gain some ground in your financial battle.

The Things We Didn't Give Up
Too often Danielle and I harp on all the sacrifices we've made. No movies. No restaurants. No this. No that.

Woe is we!

Although it's the sacrifices that are the hardest, there's lots of other stuff that we DON'T sacrifice. Like Superman holding back that train, or a fly bouncing against the glass, we're determined not to surrender these things, stubbornly holding onto them in dogged determination to retain some sanity in the midst of all the sacrifices.

This is kind of an essential part to this whole journey, actually. Because you can go too far with all the penny pinching, the budgeting, and the Dave Ramsey fanfare. To really be successful—and to not go crazy—you've got to be stubborn in some areas. So here are some of the things that Dani and I have refused to give up.

(Also note that these things are different for everyone. What you chose to keep might be totally different.)


I'm a natural giver. I love blessing others, but I always wish I could give more. In the past I wouldn't hesitate buying a birthday present for someone that cost more money than I could afford. "I'll get my paycheck next week," I'd tell myself. "I'll just pay for it then." But that's not a good habit to get into. Like Dave Ramsey is fond of saying, "Live now like no one else so that tomorrow you can live and give like no one else."

So, someday, Danielle and I will have the money to "give like no one else," but for the time being we need to be a bit more conservative. Still, we like to give, to others and each other. So we have a fund for birthday presents, Christmas gifts, baby showers, weddings, and anything else that may come up. It's not a lot, but it's what we can manage for now.


Apart from giving to others, Danielle and I believe that, first and foremost, we need to give to God. Tithing honors Him, it reminds us that everything we have comes out of His hands, and it increases our faith. We have never not tithed since the day we got married, and we intend to keep it that way. The missed blessings of not tithing aren't worth the risk.

For a more detailed look at tithing in the midst of paying off debt, see our post: Is It Ok To Stop Tithing To Pay Off Debt?

Investing in My Photography

As much personal enjoyment as I get out of my craft, photography can be a big money earner too. I can make more money shooting one wedding than I do in a week at my day job. In our rural area of the country, however, it's hard to keep photography work steadily coming in.

Still, in order to make money, we need to spend money, which is why 50% of all money earned through my photography goes into a fund to maintain equipment, buy new lenses and filters, and market my services.

Healthy Living

When we first got married Danielle thought we could survive on a $40 grocery budget.

When you're done laughing I'll continue.



The problem was she didn't know how much a 30-year-old man with a daily calorie intake of 2,000 would need to eat. And when that number goes to 2,750 during workout periods that can amount to a whole heckofalot of food. Since Danielle started getting into all this health and fitness stuff through she found that she needed more food to fuel her body as well, not to mention the fact that healthy food simply costs more money.

So over the last two years we've upped the grocery budget twice. We've decided that even though we can eat more cheaply, the types of food we'd be eating aren't worth it. Our physical livelihood and general health are more important than a few extra dollars. So we're making the investment in healthier living, and so far it's been worth it.

Pocket Money

I need my pocket money.

No. You don't understand. I neeeeeeeeeeed my pocket money.

I would lose my mind if I didn't have some dollars, unencumbered by some budgetary requirement, to spend at my leisure. So both Danielle and I get a little money every week to spend however we want. It's not much, but it helps make the rest of the budget feel doable.

For all the other spenders out there, I can't stress enough how much easier budgeting is when there's a little money set aside just for you. It does wonders for your mental health, and it actually helps keep the whole budget on track because without that little bit of "fun cash" one might be tempted to dip into other areas of the budget.

No matter where you are in this process, it's helpful to remember that this is only for a season. Danielle and I know that even though we're dramatically scaling back in many areas, it's not going to last forever. Our spending habits and the sacrifices we make are going to look dramatically different when we're debt free!

So what things have you been stubbornly refusing to give up? Or is your budget too tight? If so, what things do you think you could introduce—like tithing or pocket money—that might give you a little bit of your sanity back?

Other posts in this series:
Part 1: My Personal Wake-Up Call
Part 2: How To See Some Hope
Part 3: Overcoming the Comparison Trap

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