Romeo and Juliet, Debt, Reduction, Tragedy, Future

How to Change Your Habits: Modern Romeo and Juliet

Juliet, Tragedy, Shakesphere
Juliet’s Window. According to Italian legend, this is truly the window Juliet spoke to Romeo through.

A Tragedy We All Relate to

Even if you do not know the entire play of Romeo and Juliet, I think we all know how it ends. Murder suicide. Why? A simple misunderstanding. Through miscommunication Juliet killed herself believing Romeo was dead. Romeo kills himself upon learning of Juliet’s death. It todays modern world it is easy to misunderstand someone’s intentions. At least, that was the case for us, which lead to needing to figure out how to change our habits.

At different times in life, we experience situations which are confusing. I am happy to say, Romeo and Juliet is the middle of my story not the end. The silver lining is whatever you are going through, it doesn’t have to be the end of your story either.

When I look back at the insurmountable debt that Ron and I once had, its mind boggling.  I can barely comprehend how we got out of it. I wish I could tell you we had debt because of cars or motorcycles. Something that may sound cool or explain the high value. But I can’t.  The down side of being in the military is when you move, you want to see everything. Certainly this was the case in Germany when all our financial woes started.  Ron and I just kept saying, this is once in a life time. We’ll never be back. All of that was true, but this outlook did a huge disservice to us.

Go For What You Really Want

We should have made priorities. What we could have done. Should have done, is make a list of the most important things to see and do. We didn’t.  We spent so

Romeo and Juliet, Debt, Tragedy
Statue of Juliet in Italy. We waited close to an hour to get a picture with Juliet.

much money traveling we forgot the most important thing. Take care of ourselves first. This is something we all do. Ron and my poor choices forced us to charge important things like plane tickets. It was inevitable. We continuously spent all our income. We loved our six years in Germany but reality hit hard.  We were moving to paradise (Hawaii) and starting it with looming debt.

You would think this would have changed our understanding of finance. It didn’t. Not only did we keep on spending, we hit the gas and darted forward like we were on the autobahn. Leading to the financial crisis I’ve already bored you with. I do want to say, is this is life. Everyone gets here at one time or another. This led to what I call the farce of the American Dream.

American Dream Isn’t Always What You Want

We thought we made it. Nice cars. Living in Hawaii. Traveled all over Europe. Isn’t this how Americans measure success? Those things are nice, but we were several thousand dollars in debt. We never stopped thinking, we want more. American’s tell themselves when I have a new car, bigger house or the kids are grown. I want you to know, if you get trapped in that mindset nothing will be enough. No matter how much you accumulate, you will strive for more. Happiness is just beyond your reach.

Learned to buy what you like. Get the car you want. Live where you want. Friends come and go. You have to live with yourself. Don’t want a new car, don’t get one. Recently, I bought a used Land Rover. I’m a tight wad. I don’t care who knows it. Some tell me I should have bought new. It doesn’t matter.  They aren’t paying the bill. Neither will they pay yours. Do what is best for you. Refrain from letting society tell you that you are not good enough. That your car, house or clothes aren’t good enough. You are. Be proud of who you are! You worked hard for it.

One Day, The Light Comes On

One day I had an epiphany.  I was chipping away at night college working all day. Determined to be groomed and ready for the next pay grade I was stressing myself out. If there was matrix to check off position requirements, I had it. And by gosh I was marking each box.  All this stress for a promotion. One I needed because we kept getting ourselves further in debt. It’s easy to think, if I get promoted I will make more money. Then, I have a little freedom in spending.  What really happens? People buy a new car, house or wardrobe. Then find themselves back at square one.  The cycle never ends.

So what was the epiphany? I realized I didn’t need a promotion. I needed out of debt. That night I went home from work and told my husband, if we didn’t have debt it would feel like I was an GS-11. (I was a 9 at the time.) We were paying so many bills, the left over money every two weeks was very small. BUT if we didn’t have those bills, we would have more money. The very freedom I was chasing. I had a choice. Before I go on, I consider myself inherently lazy. I don’t mind working hard, but not at the cost of stress or my family. We chose to lower our standard of living.

Everyone Makes Mistakes

Verona, Finance, Debt, Reduction2004
Ron and Kari with Juliet in Italy.

I suppose you are wondering how someone who has a finance degree and raised in the pool of finance gets so screwed up. Quite easily. It was gradual and grew and grew with each promotion we received.  As a kid I was raised very strict. My mom didn’t believe in anything frivolous. Therefore we didn’t go to the movies, out to dinner, zoos or travel. They saved money. Which I am an advocate for,but with life balance in mind. However, as an adult I craved everything I never had. Initially I couldn’t afford anything. However, over time my income increased.

What I can tell you from my experience,  our time of extravagance we were the least happy. Everyone  probably though we had it all. Materialistically we did.  When it comes to family, possessions aren’t enough.  We were using buying as a drug. Getting something new was like a mini high. Like a drug you regret it later. Then you feel bad about that too, and need to feel good again. I don’t know if Romeo and Juliet was as sad as our love story.

Don’t let a misunderstanding like Romeo and Juliet rob you of your happiness. What I mean is, don’t misunderstand marketing. Purchase what you want. Nothing more.

Final Thought

If you find yourself in financial despair there are many free services to help. If you don’t know how to get started, I will help you to the best of my abilities.  We all make mistakes. We all fall down. Success comes from getting back up. We are all phoenixes trying to rise from the ashes.

What is your success story?

Debt Reduction links:

CNN Money – Enter your bill, amount owed, interest rate and monthly payment.  The calculator will tell you how long to pay off. Tip: Play around with it. Increase your monthly payment and see how much faster you can pay it off.

National Debt Relief – You can pay someone to do this for you, but don’t be afraid to do it yourself. Remember you are trying to lower debt not increase it.

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