As a young adult, I really believed that having more money would solve my problems. Not only would I be able to pay for all of the things I wanted and needed, but I’d be able to help others, and people would look at me with interest because, after all, I had a lot of money.
And yet, more money wasn’t in the sights for us during those early years and, I have to say that, despite the frustration of having debt and making our way back from rock bottom, I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve learned along the way as we’ve made our way through that blessing in disguise.
Rock Bottom Finances: A Blessing in Disguise?
Note: It’s not always easy to see the blessings, especially if you are in a dark period of life at the moment. If that’s you, I just want to remind you that, while the challenges you are facing right now might seem unbearable, the lessons that you learn as you go through them might just be priceless in the long term. So many situations we’ve been forced through over the years, including medical, family, and financial, have proven to be incredibly fruitful in later years. As always, I’d love to hear and support you through whatever it is you might be going through, so feel free to contact me directly, or leave a comment below.
Blessing #1: Ability to Survive
When you don’t have any extra money above and beyond the essentials, one of the natural perks is that you don’t have to worry about spending that money on things you don’t actually need. In fact, it’s more likely that you will rationalize each and every purchase to determine whether it’s necessary or whether you can leave it behind.
This is one of the biggest things I’m thankful for from our time as completely broke, just out of college young adults, because it forced us to think more carefully about the difference between things we needed and those we wanted.
As our income has increased, this idea of more carefully considering needs versus wants, has been incredible effective in preventing lifestyle creep, or the idea that because we have more money means we need to spend more money or live a grander lifestyle.
Has our lifestyle grown to some degree with the increase in our income? You bet. We’ve purchased a home, bought a new car, and have actually gone on vacation. And yet…with that growth has also come a proportionate growth in our giving, debt payoff, savings, and planning for retirement.
Ultimately, I’m thankful for the years we spent with little to no money, and the blessing of knowing the difference between true needs and wants that we can intentionally save and plan for, rather than just purchasing an item for the instant gratification it might bring.
Blessing #2: Little Waste
Thanks to our early years of no money, one of the blessing we find in our life today is that of a waste free lifestyle. To the best of our ability, we go out of our way to make sure the things we have in our home are used to the best of their ability and that, when they are no longer useful, are passed off to someone else.
When it comes to food, we make a huge effort to prevent leftovers from going to waste by eating them until they are gone or freezing them for a meal in the future. This “thrifty” perspective has saved us hundreds of dollars just this year alone.
I’m going to say that if we’d started out with a lot of money in our early years, this would have been a lesson we might never have grasped. Instead, we get the opportunity to carefully allocate our funds to groceries, but then use the money in such a way that doesn’t overspend or waste the products that we purchase.
Blessing #3: Opportunity to Teach
One of my favorite things about having no money in our early years and learning all things “financial” the hard way, is the fact that we can now teach our kids using examples from our own lives.
Not only do they get to see how the pattern of debt can be broken, but they will graduate from high school with practical skills including how to manage a grocery budget from start to finish, keep track of their monthly and yearly expenses, and navigate their own wants and needs.
Sure, they might not always make smart choices, but it is such a blessing to know that they will have a good foundation to fall back on if they ever need it.
If money situations had come naturally to use in those early years, there wouldn’t be nearly as much emphasis or excitement on our part to share our knowledge and (hopefully) prevent our kids and others from making the same mistakes we did.
Blessing #4: Value What We Have
Another blessings that’s found its way into our lives is the fact that we value what we have. Due to the fact that we don’t make purchases, especially big ones, lightly, we take great care to make sure the things we have remain in good shape.
While we might have spent a little more to have a new car, we make sure that it gets oil changes and routine maintenance on the recommended schedule. We spend a little extra to have our home kept free from pests (especially carpenter ants) and to ensure that our plumbing and electric units are checked yearly. Not only does this save us expense in the long-term, but it allows us to plan ahead for the expenses that might arise.
When it comes to clothing and furniture, we purchase quality items when we can and do our best to use them only as they were created to be used. For example, a chair isn’t meant to be climbed all over, but rather to be sat in. A blanket isn’t meant to be dragged around the house as a cape, but to be slept with.
By taking care of the things we have, we save a lot of money in the long term and have less desire to purchase newer items just for the sake of having them.
Blessing #5: What Really Matters
The final blessing we found (although I’m sure there were many more) came in the form of knowing what really matters. Thanks to the phase of having no additional income and loads of bills piling up, Justin and I learned quickly that what really mattered above and beyond the stuff we could accumulate or the foods we could eat, was the time spent together.
We allowed ourselves to dream big about the future, but in the meantime, found contentment in spending time together doing things that didn’t cost a lot of money. Not only did that time strengthen our relationship and our friendships with those around us, but it also gave us a place to springboard from when our income increased.
To this day, those dreams we came up with are still our dreams. Through careful planning, some of them have come to fruition, while others are still in the works for the future. The truth is that the journey to get there hasn’t been easy at all times, but it’s been completely worth it and I wouldn’t trade a moment of those years because, without them, we would not be the people we are today.
Your Own Story
Of course, your story is likely much different than mine, but I bet that if you take a close look, you’ll notice some similar themes as far as the blessings those hard situations have produced over time.
In what ways have you found those “lemon” moments in your life turn into blessings? Leave a comment below and let me know!
Tip: If you are just starting out on your financial journey and can’t quite see the light at the end of whatever tunnel you’ve dug yourself into, take this time to grab my FREE Family Budget Template to get you started.