When did living within your means become a source of embarrassment? It should, as one Lawrence couple discovered, be a source of pride.
Chad and Renate Rea had the courage to share the story of their financial stress and subsequent recovery in a Journal-World article published this week. Last year, the Reas, both in their late 20s, were driving a hybrid car and living with their two children in a 3,200-square-foot house. They also were depending on credit cards to keep their heads above water financially.
Nonetheless, they said they consistently found themselves $1,500 in the hole at the end of the month. Finally, they decided that the stress of being in debt largely offset any enjoyment they got from a lifestyle they really couldn’t afford.
So they made some changes. They sold their car and house, then bought a used car and moved to a smaller home. They dropped memberships and reduced their entertainment costs. Now they watch movies at home, visit the public library and buy clothes secondhand or on sale.
But the great news is that in two years, they’ll be out of debt. In the process, they say, they’ve reduced their stress and actually have a better quality of life than they had before.
“It was a complete pride-swallowing experience and very humbling, but we had to do it,” Chad said.
Perhaps it was a humbling experience to admit their debt had gotten out of hand, but the Reas certainly have no reason to be embarrassed. Maybe they had to swallow their pride to make the changes that needed to be made, but they certainly should be proud of the fact they were able to make those changes and get their finances under control.
Too many people these days take too much pride in their possessions. In the current economic climate, many people may need to learn some of the same humbling lessons the Reas did about managing their money. Having “stuff” isn’t as important as being able to pay your bills and having your family on a firm financial footing.
That’s something to be proud of.