Dave Ramsey is fond of suggesting that folks “Live like no one else, so that later you can live like no one else”. Generally, I suspect people take that to mean sacrificing to win now — making major cutbacks while getting out of debt — so that you’ll be able to live the good life later on.
After all, when you’re not in debt, you have a whole heck of a lot more money available. And you can do whatever you like with that money, instead of sending it to the credit card companies. You can feel good about your money.
So what is living like no one else?
When you decide to live like no one else, what you’re really deciding is to make your money work for you (instead of the other way around).
For me, it’s not really about sacrificing at this point, although I do feel like I’m making an “oh poor baby” kind of sacrifice by delaying the kind of travel I like to do until after our house is paid off. (Which had darn well better be this year.)
Most people, though, would not consider “only” taking short trips to Las Vegas, Denver, and Washington, DC this year a “sacrifice”. I know that, and I’m very happy to go on those trips. But when you prefer to take 2-3 week trips to places like New Zealand or Europe, and you love love love travel, AND you can afford to do so, it IS delaying the thing I enjoy most in order to get to where I want to be faster.
But that’s already an example of the kind of living like no one else you can do when you’re not living like everyone else.
Because everyone else is in debt, generally speaking. They can’t afford to pay cash for big family trips on a regular basis, because they’re too busy paying their credit card debt, having $150 monthly cable bills, and $5 workday latte stops instead. Not counting debt payments, that’s at least $3100 a year — more than enough for a week in Paris.
It’s about changing how you feel
Sure, I “gave up” cable. Years and years ago, because I don’t like TV, and because I decided that I didn’t want my son exposed to hours of nonstop advertising on a regular basis. It had nothing to do with getting out of debt. It had more to do with him waking me up as a 4 year old to tell me about this great cleaning spray that we should go buy right now.
And sure, I don’t have a new car — and I haven’t had one for more than 20 years. In fact, I don’t have a running car at all right now. But that also has nothing to do with getting out of debt. I just love my car, and it was damaged in an accident. Getting my car fixed is not an emergency in my book. I can get a ride to work, and walk home. Or walk/ride my bike both ways if need be. And I can borrow my husband’s car to go to painting class, which is pretty much the only place I go that’s more than a few miles away anyway.
Now, back when I first tried to get out of debt, I absolutely made some sacrifices. I lived for the month of July without AC (in daily 110 degree weather for those who aren’t familiar), while pregnant, because we didn’t have the money to get a new unit. Trust me, that was NOT fun. And boy was I pissed when I discovered that first company we called was just trying to scam us into spending more than a thousand dollars. The second company was able to fix it for something like $35 instead. But had I not drawn that line in the sand, we would have gotten scammed and been another $1000+ in debt. And there’s more. I know that it can absolutely be hard to change. I was hard for me, and I struggled to do so for years.
But in the long run, it’s a matter of deciding what you want your life to be like. To me, that means being content and without the constant stress and pressure of debt.
Living like no one else is really about being content in my book. It’s about doing what truly makes you and your family happy, and stepping out of the rat race. Be content, instead. If you have to do some work to get there, trust me, it’s worth it. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
And if you get sick of people pressuring you to be normal, maybe you need different friends. Why should you be normal, when normal is stressed out and broke? That’s not the life I want. I like my life now, and I’m going to like it even more when I can travel the world even more easily because we’ll have a paid-for house.
So go ahead, live like no one else.