Think Sacrifice, Not Deprivation

I have a dark financial past. I didn’t set out to ruin my life. In fact, I truly believed I was improving things for myself and my family. I used all the credit I could get my hands on to create a lifestyle we so richly deserved.

When everything began to spin out of control, I tried to stop using credit cards to spend money we didn’t have. I tried to fit into a budget. But all of that spelled just one thing for me: Deprivation.

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I felt like I was being punished the same way that a prisoner is deprived of freedom and personal choice. I tried to reform but my feelings were much stronger than my desire to change. A battle raged inside me and my overwhelming feelings won all too often.

The irony was that in making sure I never felt deprived I paved the way for the ultimate deprivation–the loss of everything in my life that truly mattered. I get chills recalling just how close we came to complete financial ruin.

I made a startling personal discovery that would come to change my life and make it possible for me to break out of the debt trap. I figured out that deprivation never works. You know that if you’ve ever been on a diet.

You can stick with a rigid program for a while, but eventually you give in. Saying you will never eat chocolate again is a lofty goal but come on, that is not going to happen.

Deprivation does not work in food or in money. But sacrifice does. Sacrifice means to give up something of value right now to achieve something far more worthy in the future. Deprivation means to have a possession or enjoyment taken away. Once I learned the subtle yet startling difference between the two concepts I understood immediately why meaningful change kept eluding me.

Sacrifice—it’s a beautiful concept. Sacrifice focuses on a goal. Deprivation focuses on poor me. Sacrifice lifts my head and lets me see the big picture. Deprivation turns my eyes inward so I see nothing but myself.

There is joy in sacrifice. That’s because I am aware that what I am giving up right now is a temporary thing that will allow me to reach my goal. But that assumes I have a goal—and a plan to reach it.

That’s what this blog and my term debt-proof living are all about.

Every day I try to encourage you in myriad ways to do whatever it takes to get out of debt and live below your means so debt never becomes an issue in the future.

Sacrifice. It really is a beautiful thing.

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1 reply
  1. hj
    hj says:

    Great article, Mary. It reminded me that in the early years of our marriage, at the beginning of each new year, my husband and I would go on what we called an “Austerity Program”, which meant we had to write down every penny we spent each day for 3 months. By becoming conscious of what we were spending, we were able to pay off our holiday expenses and have add to our nest egg. To know that when I got home I would have to account for every penny, I would forego lots of things. My husband took his lunch to work and would buy a soda for 50 cents. If I didn’t take my lunch, that expense alone could be $5.00, which adds up over a week’s time. We were frugal the other nine months of the year but didn’t have to write down our expenditures.

    To your point of feeling deprived, it is amazing how many things I would want because I knew I couldn’t have them if we were going to reach our goal. At the end of the 3 months, we went on a small spending spree to get a few of those things we had done without, but we felt good our bills were paid and we could afford to make a small splurge occasionally.

    Now we are retired and proud we have been frugal for years. We are debt-free, including our home. We pay cash for cars and have investments and pensions to give us a comfortable life. I tell young people about the old adage of “save early and often”. It pays off in the end. Also before buying anything, ask yourself some questions, like do you need it, do you have something you can use instead of buying new, do you have storage space for it and is it a want or a need? These questions have helped us over the years to have a good life and life below our means, so now we can live our golden years comfortably. By the way, we have been married 44 years on Friday.

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