Friday, January 16, 2015

Living Large

ParentUnplugged - Stacy Snyder - Living Large
I love being a parent to my kids and sharing my insights on parenting issues through ParentUnplugged.  It wouldn’t have been possible for me to spend enough time with my own kids, though, to come up with my ideas on parenting, had my wife and I not made the unpopular decision to change the way we view money. 

Six years ago, we found ourselves stuck in a financial mindset we had never actually subscribed to, yet felt obliged to perpetuate, because that’s just what people in auto-pilot do in attempts to keep the plates spinning.  We were living in an affluent neighborhood with big houses, big cars, big spending appetites, and big debt.  From the outside we looked happy, and we were, to an extent.  We had family, friends, and enough material things to keep a small country afloat.  But that happiness could only go so far as we were buckling under the overwhelming debt we had unconsciously accumulated. 

Everyone has their own reasons for taking on more than they can handle, but in our case, we had lost 2 pregnancies and we simply stifled our grief by spending money or shit that didn’t matter.  You name it, we bought it:  possessions for ourselves, our child, and our pet, meals out, entertainment, trips, experiences, new cars, new hair, and even a $40K “investment property” that is worth about thirty-seven cents on the open market today. While we could afford to pay the piper for all of our purchases by utilizing payments on multiple revolving or installment credit lines, we were just skating by and not saving a dime.  We were actually building debt daily at an alarming rate. 

ParentUnplugged - Stacy Snyder - Living Large
Sensing potential disaster, I picked up a copy of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.  I read it cover to cover on a 2-hour flight and de-boarded the plane with a new lease on life.  The chapters didn’t offer any fancy tricks or specialized financial advice, but simply supported the main concept of the book, which is to spend less or make more to reach financial security.  More specifically, reducing debt, creating surplus, dismissing the use of credit, and most importantly, living only on the cash in your pocket. 

I set off on a new course immediately, and within a year’s time, we had paid off over 80% of our accumulated debt, abandoned my job and its six-figure income, which allowed me to stay home and raise my own kids.  For the past five years, my family has been enjoying a quality of life I didn’t really realize was possible, almost exclusively within a one wage-earner family model.  Creatively saving money and generating income is now engrained in my being, and I’ve spent so many hours sharing my ideas and experiences with friends on my couch and strangers in line at the store, that I decided it’s time to start incorporating it into my writing.  

I’m passionate about balancing the ideas of living comfortably within my means and whole-heartedly enjoying those things in life that are most important to me.  I call it Living Large.  I’ve developed quite a diverse playbook of how to pinch pennies without much effort and how to bring in extra money without really working.  So look out for my Living Large suggestions in upcoming posts, as well as your favorite parenting stories.  Thank you for your continued support via feedback, comments, and sharing my blog and its posts.