This has been sitting in my blog draft folder for 24 hours now. I'm finally going to hit the publish button. Goodnight.
"My job is to get men to do what they don't want to do, in order to achieve what they've always wanted to achieve." -Tom Landry
"Accountability is a negative feedback loop based on positivity, victimization is a positive feedback loop based on negativity." -Adam Kampa
This is going to be long and all over the place.
Let me start this off by saying that I know I have MANY faults. I know that I am a greedy, materialistic, narcissistic, envious, sinful, hypocritical and horrible human being. But, let's face it so are you. There are many different degrees to these things, but they are all SIN. Please do not try to convince yourself that they are not, or that you do not possess any of these lovely qualities.
Greed = convincing yourself that you DESERVE things that you have not yet earned. This includes tangible things, like an expensive pair of sunglasses, a fancy camera, or a motorcycle...as well as things that are not tangible, such as the respect of your coworkers and the understanding of your neighbors. For example: You could consider me greedy for thinking that I deserve to have my opinions heard, when I have done nothing to earn your attention.
I really don't like the word DESERVE. None of us really deserve anything. We are entitled to some things, but that doesn't mean we have earned them or that we should even take advantage of them. God sent his son to die for our sins so that we could have eternal life. NONE of us deserved that, but we would be silly not to take advantage of it. Still, we should work to earn the earthly things we have been blessed with in our lives, and STOP trying to convince ourselves that we deserve things we are not willing to work for first. Please don't think you deserve blessings like meeting the love of your life, or coming into financial good standing if you have not made changes within yourself to facilitate those things. There are different types of "living in sin", and living in excessive debt with no shame or guilt is one of them. Denying this or trying to justify it is quite pathetic in my eyes...yet, I'm sure I will even get comments on this blog, of people trying to justify themselves to me. You don't have to explain anything to me...justify it to yourself! Just try! Prove nothing to anyone but yourself.
Having things that you have not yet paid for, means that you don't own them. How can you call something yours, when it is not. How can anyone allow themselves to feel good about that. It's what Brad calls "All hat and no cattle". Think about it. Are you all hat and no cattle? Did you take a loan out to buy the hat to appear as though you have cattle when you do not? If you don't have cattle, why is it so important to you that people think you do? Everyone is way too caught up with appearances. I have friends who would not be caught dead driving my car. Who are they trying to impress? I have cattle, people. And I don't need the hat to prove it. It feels good and I want other people to be able to know this feeling as well. Sadly most people will never give themselves the chance.
I have been super frustrated for the past month because of the bad decisions that other people make and the ways they try to justify them. It's gross. I really wish I wasn't so bothered by this. I really just want to get over it because having evil thoughts in my heart toward so many people, to include people I don't even know AND people that I love dearly, isn't any less of a sin than what I am judging them for. I know people who are praying for me to find peace with this issue, but I'm hoping that venting about it will help me reach that point! Unfortunately, my candid thoughts might ruffle some feathers in the process. Please keep a very open mind if you choose to go on reading.
Regardless of feathers, I have decided to just let it all out. I apologize if anyone feels targeted by what I have to say. I might use examples, but it's not like those people are alone, when there are thousands of other people out there doing the exact same thing. This is definitely NOT directed at any one person. This is directed at ALL Americans who are living beyond their means and not holding themselves accountable for their decisions: YOU PISS ME OFF! How can people live life thinking that they deserve so much that they have NOT yet earned! Some people will NEVER earn the things that they have. They will die in debt. What makes you so much better than me, that you think you deserve better things than me even when you cannot afford them? You might think that I am over reacting here, but I am hurt! My feelings are hurt when you go out and buy a brand new car while my husband is driving a $900 car, but he makes twice as much money as you. Do you really need that status? Do you have yourself convinced that you DESERVE it? Why don't I deserve it? What are you saying about me? I can tell you that I am happy with what I have. I count my blessings every day and try my best not to take all of the excesses that we have for granted. What does that say about you? You have to have an expensive purse and a fancy car to be happy? That is SAD. Now, if you are making $250,000 a year, by all means go ahead and have a fancy purse and a new Mercedes...and be happy with those things. If you are making $40,000 a year with a family...who are you kidding? How can you live in that kind of sin and be completely unaware of it? Do you really think that people can’t see how materialistic you are? Having a new car now is honestly more important than stability of your family's financial future? That is what you are saying to me. You don't see it, and you will refuse to see it, but it makes you look bad. It makes me sad that most people just don't care, and will tell themselves that they aren't doing anything wrong. However, I can say without a doubt, that I am not the only person who feels this way. I just might be the only one speaking up about it. If you really care what people think about you (which is why you live beyond your means in the first place), consider that many people are thinking the things that I am saying right now. People are just too afraid to address this subject because they have the attitude, "whatever, it's not my problem." Well, it is my problem. It's my problem because I sincerely care about the stability of your financial future, and your happiness in the long run.
Brad and I live in E-6 and below military housing. It is safe to say that we know pretty close to what our neighbors make (assuming none of them have been left hefty inheritances). There was a time, before we got two sets of lovely new neighbors, when our neighbors to the right had a new BMW, and our neighbors to the left had a Porsche Cayenne. Brad is an E-7 and he drives a 1997 Mitsubishi Galant, and I drive a 2002 Ford Windstar. Something is absolutely wrong with that picture. Don't you agree? And those neighbors with $500 car payments are the ones complaining about the Military, and how they don’t pay well enough! Seriously? Are you incapable of being thankful for anything? The Navy is the best thing that ever happened to you!
What? You say you aren't hurting anyone? Why should I let this bother me so much? THESE people ARE hurting EVERYONE! Why do you think the economy is falling apart? It's because people make stupid financial decisions, buy things they cannot afford, do not save for worse case scenarios and then complain, cry and blame someone else when the sh** hits the fan. It is really hard for me to feel sympathy for people who are victims of their own bad decisions. In fact, people who are victims of their own decisions shouldn't be considered victims at all! I heard about 100 too many commercials for debt consolidation and bankruptcy when I spent 30 hours in the car last month. Those commercials can be to blame for this blog because they are what really got me all fired up. I am literally sickened by how these commercials victimize people who are essentially criminals! People who claim bankruptcy because they have car payments and mortgages that they cannot afford, have court judgments against them because they have broken the law or betrayed someone, or have 40 thousand dollars in credit card debt (while watching their 50" LED TVs from their $2000 leather couch and driving their $30,000 cars) ARE NOT VICTIMS! Gag. These people are hurting others. Someone has to pick up the tab! Do they really think that they are faultless and innocent in all of this? Do they really think people are going to listen and believe them when they try to justify themselves with a sob story? The sad answer to that is, Yes! Our society encourages this kind of thing and it makes feel sick.
What about Miss Smith? She should be in jail! As far as I am concerned she is guilty of criminal destruction of property. She destroyed our house, caused $13,000 worth of damage, and caused us to lose over $4,000 in rent as it sat empty while we returned it to a status in which it could be rented again...FROM JAPAN. We won a $17,000 court judgment against her after investing a couple grand in a lawyer. She owes us over $17,000!!! But, she is a victim. Her life is so horrible because people keep filing wage garnishments against her (not us unfortunately, we are still in line for that). Poor little thing! Why doesn't she just claim bankruptcy? Hallelujah, that's the answer! She can be saved from the harassment of bill collectors with one easy phone call to the bankruptcy lawyer hot line. My skin is crawling. We will never see a penny for the financial and emotional inconveniences she has caused us, which includes putting a strain on our marriage...which is embarrassing to admit because she should have ZERO control over that!
Don't even get me started on Lynn What's-her-face from that whole truck deal in Omaha. I'm pretty sure that her life sucks big time right now (which is what I was trying to help her avoid, but she turned her back on me and didn't honor our contract). There was a time when I looked at Lynn with a "poor thing" point of view. I invested a lot of money and a sincere friendship in order to help her. That backfired and I might have lost some money, but she is the one who lost out on a great friend and the potential of a better life for herself. Yes, her parents influenced her away from me...but you know what, it was still her decision to make and it is really hard for me to find sympathy in my heart for liars. She took advantage of me, plain and simple. And what did that teach me? Don’t be friendly and sympathetic unless you wanted to get hurt. Great.
The good news is that we could afford Lynn and Miss Smith. Lynn was my fault, I stepped willingly into that flooded pothole, but if Miss Smith happened to you, could you afford that? If faced with sudden unfortunate financial circumstances that were out of your control, would you say, "Why is this happening to me? How am I going to afford this?" Owning a home is a huge responsibility, and as much as people want to blame banks for handing out money like candy to people who cannot really afford a mortgage (much less the countless other financial strains that could arise for a homeowner), people need to realize what they are getting into and PREPARE for it before they make a big financial decision like buying a house! Now, there are so many different levels to this...nobody can really prepare for their $600,000 house to suddenly only be worth $300,000 while they are not even living in it! And the banks aren't innocent either. However, it's the people who don't care, or who don't think they have a responsibility to make payments on something that they signed their name to, swearing to make payments. You, my friends are not victims.
Perhaps I am just weak and jealous. I cannot handle seeing the stay at home wife of an E-3, who is 19 years old and pregnant with her third child, driving a $30,000 minivan, buying everything in sight, and pushing a $700 stroller because she "deserves it with this one" and "It's what's best for my kids". I CANNOT STAND THIS KIND OF THING! Are you saying that my van is not good enough for my kids? Really? Yes, your van is quite nice, but I am not looking at it with envy. I don't want your van! I am content with my van because it is what we have earned, and I am proud of that. I am proud to have paid cash for it and not be throwing away money on interest, when that money could be saved for more important things. It might not be new, or beautiful, or under warranty, but it has been a good car and it is what we could afford with the cash in our pockets. I think it is shameful to drive something that so ultimately betrays your earnings. You are misrepresenting yourself. That is NOT what is best for your kids. What is best for your kids is not being a greedy, materialistic person who puts the financial stability of their family at stake for things that you just had to have now, "because it will be worth it". Define worth. You can't can you? You never know what the worth of something will be in the long run, until you get to the end of the long run. Then, when it turns out not to be not so "worth it", it will be too late. I don't ever want to see my friends and family come to this realization!
Let me set this straight. I have a $500 stroller...two of them actually. However I would not even have one of them if I had to pay full price for them. The first one was brand new from my sister for $200 because the company mailed it to her by mistake and told her to keep it. Then the Air Force broke that one, and bought me a new one. Brad rigged up the old broken one so that it could hold the kids, but it will not fold up or go in the van or anything. So, I might look spoiled with my $1000 worth of strollers, one for the park and one for the van...but you are OUT OF YOUR MIND if you think I would by a $500 stroller, much less two of them. I am way too cheap for that.
Speaking of cheap. Why do people always view "cheap" as a word with such a negative connotation. If you don't have the cash in the bank to buy the purse, car, clothing, computer, etc that you desire...don't get it. Period. Why aren't people capable of that? Why should people who are frugal be looked down upon? What gives everyone else this sense of entitlement? Seriously. I once knew a girl who went to the bank and took out a $2000 personal loan to buy a Louis Vuitton bag! Why would anyone spend so much money on something to hold their money, when they don't have any money? That's nuts right? Well, putting a $300 coach bag on a credit card is essentially the same thing.
You, with $50,000 in consumer debt. Why are you complaining about the economy? This is your fault!
Yes, I said it.
And WIC? Oh man I hate WIC. I used to love WIC because, hey it was free and I was entitled to it. Then I realized that someone had to pay for it! Yes, I was on WIC when I could have afforded to buy my own groceries. I am ashamed to admit it. I took advantage of it because it was offered, and I could. Who doesn't like free stuff, right? Well, it's not free. I couldn't handle someone else being forced to pay for my milk and cheese any longer, so I stopped. WIC is great for people with low income, who use it as the nutrition education program that it is meant to be, and then apply their savings to things that they need to survive. If I paid taxes, I wouldn't mind contributing to a program in which people who really needed food for their babies, could have food for their babies. However, if you are driving an expensive car, wearing $60 jeans, and carrying a $150 hand bag...do you really need someone else to buy your groceries? Like I said before, I am greedy and materialistic too. I am not innocent of any of the things that I am complaining about. I need to change too, just not nearly as much as some other folks. I am not saying that everyone on WIC is lacking morals, but really stop and think...can you afford your own groceries? If so, why are you making someone else pay for them? Do you not feel as though that is wrong?
You don’t need to tell me that I am a hypocrite. I already know. I am guilty of every single one of the things that has pissed me off this past month. Yup, but I can admit it was disgusting and I now know that it was wrong (for the most part). That is what gives me hope for everyone else. Hope for everyone else is part of why I am writing this blog. I have hope that maybe some people will look in the mirror and start being smarter, more grateful, and less worried about status. When I was 21, I had four credit cards, with a combined balance of $4500...maxed out. I owed a good friend about $1500 for helping me out multiple times when I really needed it (like when I couldn’t pay for my insurance, because my whole check went to my stupid huge car payment), I owed my mom $5000, and had just borrowed $16,000 from my dad. Oh and then there was the balance that I owed on my $32,000 SUV that I HAD to have when I was 18. Disgusting right? Yes it was. And it still would be if someone didn't tell me I was being ridiculous! Thank God for Brad! Believe me when I say that I know how hard it is to come to terms with the fact that I was being irresponsible and stupid. Brad had to give me a lesson that I didn't want to hear. I wanted to justify every purchase that he told me that I could live without. Thank God I finally got a clue! I might sound like a giant hypocrite here (because I am), but if I can pull myself out of that confused cloud of abusive consumerism, YOU CAN TOO. That is why I am saying all of this! Stop denying that you are doing anything wrong and CHANGE! It's never too late! Yes, I've been there and been just as bad as anyone... BUT I was single and didn't have a family to plan a future for. If I got in too deep, I wasn’t taking my innocent kids down with me. I am so glad that I can now focus on providing for my family, not with instant gratification, name brand clothes, $350 car seats, and a $35,000 SUV...but with a secure future. A debt free present and future! When your kid is 18, do you think they are going to prefer having had a Barbie Jeep Power Wheel when they were 4, or $500 in a savings account to help them go to college?
I paid my friend back the $1500 and then some as soon as I got the loan from my dad. I also got lucky. My mom cleared my debt with her (which I always thought was kind of bogus anyway), Brad paid off and canceled my credit cards after we got married, and we wrote my dad a monthly check to pay him off (which we did over a year early with $2000 in interest). It felt really good to be free of that past. I didn't have to work as hard as some people to clear that debt, because I was lucky enough to marry someone who was very money smart, and proud of the fact that he had never had a credit card, or even bought anything that he didn't have the cash in his pocket for (except his house, of course). I am more thankful for that than anyone will ever know! Even though, everyone cannot be lucky enough to marry someone like that, you can get the same help from someone if you really want it. You can become that person that Brad is (financially). If you can't hold yourself accountable, find someone who will. Even after Brad helped me clear my debt, I still struggled with wanting things that I hadn't earned. I got really mad at him for saying no to me so many times. I got defensive, felt judged, and called him names (I have a feeling some of you reading this are feeling the same way about me right now). But it NEEDED To happen for me to get on the right track. So, if you hate me right now, that's okay. If you think I hate you, you are dead wrong. Yes, I am pissed off by some of the decisions that people make, but I wouldn't let it bother me so much if I really didn't care about their future (except for Miss Smith, I honestly don't care if she ends up unhappy). I get mad because I want certain people to be happy, and I think they are confused about what will make them truly happy.
I am not saying don’t get a college loan, or a home loan, a small business loan, or even a car loan. I'm just saying that you should have a plan in place to be able to pay for these things. Then, you should have a back up plan, and another back up plan. All of these plans involve savings. Protect yourself, people! Be smart!
Credit abuse is a learned habit. Do you want your kids to be independent and smart with money, or struggling to get everything paid on time each month? Teaching them that it is OKAY to not always have the finer things in life is a very important lesson! Who are the Jonses anyway? I bet they have massive amounts of debt! Stop trying to keep up, and make your own pace.
Sacrifice? Can you define sacrifice? I'd like to try. Let’s look at this sentence.
Amy and Brad Hayes had a very happy and wealthy retirement because of sacrifices that they made when they were a young family.
Nope, I don't think that is the proper use of the word. I don't think we are sacrificing anything! Sacrifice is doing without. Yes, we are doing without things like new vehicles, new furniture, cable, laptops, fancy phones, etc...BUT, we are definitely not doing WITHOUT. I think we have a very good standard of living, even with saving over $1000 each month. Yes, that is a lot to save...but we still have more than enough to live on. We are not giving up anything that is not easy to live without. Are there sometimes things that I wish I had, but have to turn down? YES!!! But it is easy to do when I realize what is really important to me.
What is important to you? Really ask yourself that. If your sincere answer is that those jeans, that car, this name brand purse/makeup/jewelry/sunglasses, a big TV with satellite sports and movie channels, what other people think about your furniture and home decor, etc is what really makes you happy in life...that's totally fine.....if you have the money in the bank for those things. If you don't have the money, but you still feel as though you DESERVE those things...I feel sorry for you. Even if you don't plan on paying for your kids to go to college (why wouldn't you, if you could?), having savings for emergencies and just raising your kids to use credit responsibly is enough of a reason to change your habits.
When I ask myself what is really important, these are my answers:
-Making my husband happy, and proud of me (since it is his opinion, above all others, that matters to me most)
-Keeping my kids healthy and happy (this DOES NOT require owning a power wheels toy or an expensive van)
-Living a financially and morally responsible life as an example to my kids, so they can learn and focus on what is really important
-being grateful for what I have and teaching my kids to be grateful
-practicing compassion and stewardship
-having a sincere relationship with Christ, working toward the ultimate gift of eternal life (which I am aware that I will never deserve or be able to earn, but I feel as though I should still strive to do good things)
Do I suck at these things most of the time? Absolutely. That is why I must keep reminding myself of them. I have gone into Target and tried on clothes for an hour, placed $120 worth of items in my cart, walked around the store and picked out a couple of other things for the kids, stopped for a moment to think, then walked around the store again to put everything back, and walked out empty handed. It is a hard thing to do, but it feels SO good! I didn't need any of that stuff to be happy. I'm not saying to never buy things for yourself, but really think about your purchases every time you make them. Weigh what is in the cart against what is really important to you. It doesn't always work, but most of the time I can put stuff back without hesitation when I consider that I can manage to be happy without those things, and that that money could be spent on something much more important down the road.
Some people would never even consider doing this. Are you the type that is too embarrassed to put things back? Let me ask you this...Have you ever had your credit/debit card not work when checking out at the grocery store? Have you ever had an insufficient funds receipt print out when trying to take cash out of the ATM? I know those things have happened to me. They are the epitome of embarrassment! I have had bad dreams about those things happening to me. How can some people continue to let these things happen to them? Why can't people learn from these experiences and make an effort to keep them from happening again and again? Our society has made people way too comfortable with living paycheck to paycheck, and having debt. It seems as though too many people believe that things will always be okay or work themselves out, or that they can fall back on the government or their family and friends for help if they need it. Praying to God for help and answers, or stating that He will always provide is bogus if you don’t take the initiative to do the things that need to be done. Charging up a bunch of debt, bouncing checks, and getting your car repossessed, then telling yourself it is all going to be okay because God will provide is just ridiculous. It is one thing to put all of your worries in God’s hands, but YOU need to work at it too! Pray for guidance, not just help! Brad tells me this quite often, "It's all going to be okay, Amy!" And you know what? He is always right! It is always okay FOR US. This is because we have (he has) made arrangements and sacrifices (if you prefer that word) to ensure that we will not have to worry too much.
Amidst my ranting and judging, all I really want is for the people I know and love to not have to worry either. I don't want to see my friends struggling with debt in the future when they should be able to retire and enjoy life. I don't want to be able to pay cash for our house when we retire and send our kids to good colleges so that I can rub it in anyone's face. I NEVER want to say, “I told you so” to anyone. I want for my loved ones to be able to pay cash for their houses and send their kids to good colleges, too (though I realize the house thing is not an option for most people)! Part of my frustration is that this will never happen because people are too worried about what they have to have now. It does make me mad! It does make me want to grab onto you and shake you...for your own good! I do get pissed off at you for having a 4G iPhone when I have a sign-a-2-year-contract-and-get-this-phone-free phone, especially when you are unemployed and broke, and I have a respectable steady income. I love you, therefore I don't think you should have a fancy phone! Doesn't that statement make sense to anyone else? Am I going completely bonkers here?
I am sad that this blog will only paint me as a mean and judgmental person, because the financial planning of Team Hayes is a total minority these days. I am already feeling regret in anticipation of comments I will receive or friends I will lose, though I haven't even posted this yet.
Maybe, just maybe, this raging blog will get through to someone!
I have tried this approach in one-on-one situations with a couple different friends in the past. Once, it failed, blew up in my face big time and I nearly lost a great friend for good. The other times, the people on the other side actually took what I had to say to heart, listened without putting up a defense and asked me to help them. Yay!
Though many people will be prone to the defensive, "Who does Amy think she is?", "I am happy with my big hat, I don’t need cattle " stance....especially because I haven't used the kindest or most tactful words this time, perhaps someone will actually become more responsible because of my words...even if it's for the sole fact that they are worried about what people are thinking of them.
I don’t always say what is on my mind (hard to believe, but true). This time I just really felt the need to get it out there. Is there really that much of a difference between thinking it and saying it? It’s just as bad either way, right? I am upset by the actions of many, and I have written here exactly what has been on my mind. This is who I am, and I am not trying to hide that. If you don't like who I am, that's okay. I am willing to risk losing the favor of certain people in order to be able to open up and not hide how I truly feel. I feel better now. That might sound really selfish, but I hate thinking things about people, and pretending that I don't think those things (though this is a part of life that we all must practice in order to get by). Just know, that if you are reading this, I probably care about you (I don't think too many complete strangers read my blog). If you are on my facebook friends list, I probably care about you at least a little bit. ;) It was not my goal to alienate or offend anyone, but just to empty my mind into a forum where people could see what I was feeling. You all have very good qualities, that make you likable and good people. Sadly though, for many of you, being financially responsible is not one of those qualities. Take from this what you will.
Virtual high five, to everyone out there who sincerely intends on paying back every penny they have ever borrowed before they die, and has a plan to do so. You rock my socks. And, an extra pat on the back for not getting as frustrated as I have, with the people who plan on dying in debt just because they can.