Sacrifice: An Art Form in Itself.

Sacrifice: An Art Form in Itself.

I woke up this morning thinking about the things that I decided to sacrifice and live without while I paid back my student loans. The list was getting surprisingly long, so I felt that I could at least share the top 5 things that I lived without while I reached my goal of being debt free. However, there are a few things that need discussing before I share what I decided to sacrifice.

I need to touch on sacrifice and why it is a good practice for young people like me.

 

Sacrifice is generally seen in a negative light for my generation because it means that you have to go without. Going without in these days is well…strange. Our financial system is built on the backs of people borrowing money to get whatever they want, whenever they want it. Corporations use well thought out advertising to distract you from the fact that you really can’t afford what they are selling, but you can get it anyways for the low low monthly payment of crippling debt. People come away from financed purchases feeling rewarded and temporarily happy because we deserve that new, made in China thing! Well, companies tell you that you deserve it anyway.

We just choose to believe them.

Let me be clear here: I don’t blame companies that try to sell things to people under the disguise of good feelings and low payments. I actually respect it. They are just trying to make money, the same as everyone else in the world. The difference between us and companies is that they have found a way to make money pretty effectively in the form of intermediate to long term debt with interest. It’s actually a really solid, mostly-guaranteed investment, but I digress.

I blame the people that make the choice to be fooled by advertising. Not once has Ford come to my door and forced me to finance a new car. A mortgage company has never kidnapped me and taken me to the corporate office to threaten me into buying a new house. Nike hasn’t mugged me yet because I didn’t buy their new Air-Jordans. See what I mean?

This guy doesn't sacrifice.

http://starwars.wikia.com/

The art of sacrifice has helped me see the world differently. I don’t get easily tricked by commercials or experience the “I really need that” feeling very often anymore. I see the commercials and advertising campaigns for what they are: mind tricks. The people that finance everything are like that soft minded alien guy with dreads that helps out Jabba the Hut in Star Wars. He let Luke punk him with a Jedi mind trick and walk right in to the club. I’m like Jabba, that mess doesn’t work on me. I really mean that my mind is like Jabba. I don’t look like him. Whatever, you get it.

The Sacrifice List: Top 5

These are the top things that I decided to live without while I paid off my loans. If you want to pay your loans off as quickly as I did (a little less than $40,000 in a year and a half), you have to wake up and realize that you don’t deserve anything on this list and you really can’t afford them anyway. Stop giving in to the Jedi mind trick. Also, please note: I could have easily bought everything on this list as soon as I got my first job, I just decided not to.

1. A new car. I feel really strongly about buying new cars, or really not buying them if you are young and just starting your career. I still drive the same cheap car that my parents bought me when I was a teenager. My car doesn’t have power windows, power locks, and the air conditioner fan squeaks really bad. I actually just leave the A/C off and suffer through whatever the temperature is sometimes because the fan is hard to fix by yourself and I don’t want to take it to the shop to get it fixed. I’m cheap. The struggle is real.

2. A House. My fiancé and I moved back in with her parents to save money after college. Financially, we could have moved out at any time but I was determined to pay off my loans quickly, hence the sacrifice. This option isn’t available to everyone with student loans and I completely understand that. I would suggest that right after college, you find multiple roommates and try to cut your living expenses down as much as possible while you are destroying your debt. I would NOT suggest that you go out and buy a house if you have student debt to take care of.

3. Clothes. That’s right, I didn’t buy clothes while I paid off my student loans. I wore all the stuff that I had from college. I just retired a pair of jeans that I have been wearing for 7 years. I also washed my shoes for three years because I didn’t want to go buy new ones. I still washed them after I finished my loans and didn’t have any more debt. If you are wondering, I did buy some dress shirts and a few pairs of slacks right after I got my job, but those were a necessity. I put those clothes on a 2 week rotation and tried to never wear the same ones too close together.

4. Vacations. I haven’t gone on a vacation since I graduated from college 4 years ago. Talk about a real sacrifice. I work really hard and clock anywhere from 60 – 80 hours a week depending on what is going on at work. If anything, I NEED a vacation. However, I also needed to pay down my student loan debt. My first real vacation is going to be my honeymoon in a few months, which is fine by me. Too many young people save up what little cash they can after making all of their monthly payments just to blow it on a trip to someplace that they really can’t afford to go to. They convince themselves that they should travel for the “life experience”. I’ll travel more when I’m older and have more money to do the really nice stuff.

5. Cable. This one is surprisingly hard for people to give up. It is almost ALWAYS the first thing I tell people to stop paying for when they ask me how they can find more cash to pay down their debt. With Netflix, Hulu, and devices like Apple TV you can easily stay up to date on shows without having to pay for cable. They trick you with that super low monthly payment (that only lasts for the first 12 months) and then jack up the rate for the remainder of your contract. Everyone that pays for cable KNOWS that they do this. Stop paying for cable. Just stop. *sigh*

Honorable mention: Boat. This may be my biggest sacrifice, but I know that a lot of people don’t relate to boating. I love boating, and wakeboard regularly during the warm months of the year. I want a boat more than any of the 5 things on the above list, but it wouldn’t be the financially intelligent thing to do…which is kinda my thing. I could buy a boat with cash right now, but I still won’t do it yet. It is very depressing. The good news is that I will probably end up with a nicer boat later on because I am doing my best to sacrifice now.

If you think that I sacrificed too much while I paid off my student debt,  you are wrong.

Most people probably look at my list and say: “I could never sacrifice like that, he was too extreme with the things he cut back on”. Stop thinking that way. If you want to tackle your student loan debt or any kind of debt for that matter, you will have to sacrifice. It is called delayed gratification. Trust me, I will have all of the things on the list above eventually. The difference will be that I won’t have to borrow money to do it. Even if I DID borrow the money, I would still be able to pay it off well before I was supposed to because I have learned how to sacrifice effectively to meet a goal.

If you want to have a better quality of life later down the road – be extreme and sacrifice the way that I did. 

Live differently, your bank accounts will thank me later.

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Sacrifice Shoes

My sacrifice shoes.

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22 comments… add one
  • Steven Costle Jan 25, 2015, 11:01 pm

    Great content Bobby! Glad to see you are doing well.

    • moneym21 Jan 26, 2015, 12:39 am

      Thanks Steven! I’m glad you liked it!

  • Scott@ilovecompoundinterest Feb 2, 2015, 5:53 pm

    I’ll bet some of the things you started out sacrificing have now become habits for you. And I’ll also bet that as you see your account balances growing, they become a bit less of a sacrifice. I definitely have some saving quirks that I still do just because it allows me to continue saving even more money. I too can relate on your ski boat obsession. I had a Nauitque for 14 years and even lived on a private ski lake, but I sold the boat and house and moved to an area with better schools for our son. Maybe that was my sacrifice, but it is for a great reason and I don’t regret it.

    • Millennial Money Man Feb 2, 2015, 6:27 pm

      Scott – you are absolutely right. Putting away most of my paycheck feels normal now…it’s just something I do twice a month. The interesting thing for me is now that I am starting to accumulate money I feel a lot of pressure to do something intelligent to make it grow faster. (Not that I’m complaining, it’s a good problem to have!) On the boat – Was is a ski, sport or barefoot? My friend and I ski behind his 1995 Ski Nautique and it is still great!!

  • scott@ilovecompoundinterest Feb 5, 2015, 2:19 am

    The accumulation feels great. Take it from a guy who’s several years ahead of you and you will definitely be glad you did it when you were in your 20’s. Who knows, you may even be financially independent by the time you get to my age. I’m almost there, so I know you can too. Regarding the boats, I first had a used 1982 Ski Nautique and it actually had about the best wakeboard wake I ever launched off of (when we added a fat sac or two). Then the boarding wipe outs got the best of me and I transitioned more into hardcore slalom skiing and I changed to a 1998 Ski Nautique for a bit smaller wake. Both were great boats and I had a ton of great times and great memories with friends. I would only buy used for those types of boats and if you’re not afraid to work on them yourself you can even save a bunch more money on repairs, which is what I was able to do too. Since we’re both in the Houston area, we should get together for lunch sometime and trade investing and ski/wakeboard stories. Hit my up on email and we can work something out.

  • Alyssa Feb 5, 2015, 4:23 am

    Thank you for sharing your sacrifices! Now, after only just a year and a half of giving up certain things, you have the rest of your life to work on financial freedom with awesome habits to pair with it. I also think that honeymoon with your fiancée is going to be one heck of a time! Delayed gratification is sweet. Great post!

    • Millennial Money Man Feb 6, 2015, 1:44 am

      Thanks for reading!! I will definitely enjoy the honeymoon, the Caribbean is calling my name.

  • Steve Feb 16, 2015, 4:18 pm

    I cringed a little bit when I saw those shoes! I love shoes too much but always buy sale or vintage: http://instagram.com/p/md4xU0B6h1/?modal=true

    You can have both, I wrote a post on buying 5 pairs of nice shoes for only $100 total: http://www.steveonomics.com/2014/04/13/100-shoe-collection/

    But this isn’t about me! Great article dude, we all need to sacrifice when we have financial goals whether that is get out of student loan debt, save for a house or achieve financial independence!

    • Millennial Money Man Feb 16, 2015, 9:25 pm

      Haha thanks for the shoe advice, that’s actually a great idea to buy for a discount. Luckily I was able to get some new ones after I finished paying off my student loan debt! You are right – learning how to sacrifice is HUGE for hitting those goals.

  • Kalie Apr 21, 2015, 11:47 am

    Great tips. We always say “keep living like you’re in college until you pay off your college loans.”

  • MB @ Millennial Boss Jan 2, 2016, 3:52 pm

    I had DirectTV for a year and they jacked up the price big-time this year. I called to cancel and had to pay the $200 cancellation fee but it was cheaper than paying the remainder of the contract. Of course they called me 5 times after cancelling offering me lower deals (ugh!)
    This week I ordered an indoor antenna off Amazon and it was life changing. 25 bucks for 40+ channels. That’s really all I need.

    • Millennial Money Man Jan 2, 2016, 6:57 pm

      I use an RCA antenna for our TV and it’s awesome. One time cost for tons of HD channels. NEVER going to get cable.

  • Jen @ Frugal Millennial Feb 28, 2016, 6:42 pm

    I’ve sacrificed all 5 of those things! It’s tough, but it will definitely be worth it when my student loans are paid off!

  • Kelvin Sep 20, 2016, 6:02 am

    I really agree on your vacation sacrifice and any other sacrifice I am pretty frugal, except for the things I really really want, I only started working over a year now and to be honest, I work in China and the pay is quite low compared to US, but relatively is enough for living in China. In a year a managed to save around 2000$ by saving 25% of my income monthly. But after a trip I barely have 300$ left on my account, I feel pressure from my girlfriend and friend about traveling during any holidays, they have plans for each summer, winter break and any long holiday, and I always feel like the bad guy by saying that I don’t want to go, because I know if I go I will be like “I don’t want to buy that, I don’t want to do that, I dont’ want to eat ther, everything is too expensive”.
    I understand that we need the beautiful experiences, but when I think about how much I have to save in order to go on a “cheap trip”, let me rephrase it, to go on an trip being cheap, I really don’t think it’s worth it, nor enjoyable.
    I really don’t mind not travelling, because I don’t feel it’s a need for me or just because we already worked for one year we entitled to a vacation, I have a better peace of mind having a well saved amount and start investing young, or just do something productive with money rather than save, save, save, and then go on a trip and seeing the balance almost a 0 again.

    How can I get make my point without hurting them?

    FYI any young person just starting in the workforce like me, we are not entitled to anything, we have to earn it first then make the right choice!

    • Millennial Money Man Sep 20, 2016, 8:09 am

      I think you just need to explain your goals, and if they don’t like it they can just deal with it honestly. 10 years from now saving the type of money you are saving, you’ll be able to travel pretty freely and live much more comfortably.

      The people that are the most successful with personal finance are the ones that don’t let outside opinions influence their financial decisions. It sounds like you’re already doing that!

  • Allie S. Sep 20, 2016, 7:54 am

    Reading your blog post, I’m inspired to try to pay off my loans asap…. and I’ve got a lot of questions. How much did you make as a teacher? Also, taxes – what was your gross salary, and what was your take-home pay?
    And, as a teacher, did you have the option of contributing to a 401k (or similar) retirement account? In January I’ll be eligible for the 401K, and will have to choose between retirement savings and paying off low-interest debt faster, and I’m not sure what to do.

    • Millennial Money Man Sep 20, 2016, 8:05 am

      My gross was about $53,000. I got an extra stipend because I was a band director and I worked more hours and days than a normal teacher (which is somewhere around $48,000/year). I was paid a little over $1,700 every two week. All teachers in Texas have to contribute to the Teacher Retirement System, which is basically an annuity. That was deducted from my paycheck before I got it. We could contribute to an additional 403b plan if we wanted…but I didn’t have enough money left over to do that after loans and living expenses.

      If you have a 401k match through your employer, I would put the money there first. That’s basically free money. Anything after the match, I would contribute to the loans, but that’s just me. When you pay down debt you get a guaranteed return on your investment by avoiding future interest.

      You can always send me an email to Bobby@millennialmoneyman.com if you have more questions!

  • Stfne Sep 20, 2016, 11:55 am

    I came across an article about you on CNBC this morning. Did you not qualify for public service loan forgiveness or teacher loan forgiveness? Under these programs, your debt would have gone away in 10 or 5 years respectively, with no tax penalties. Yes, your debt was gone a lot sooner, but why would you work so hard to pay off debt that everyone agrees you should not owe, so long as you continue to serve the public? Why not put the extra money toward an expense that won’t go away, like retirement, or possibly a future child’s college fund?

    • Millennial Money Man Sep 20, 2016, 3:06 pm

      I had no interest in pursuing loan forgiveness. There is no guarantee that those programs would still exist for any time period after I started teaching. Paying off my loans gave me the ability to start my own business, and I now make more than I did teaching and still have the degree to fall back on. Overall, I think I made the right choice! 🙂

  • Piggybanknomics Oct 7, 2016, 11:38 am

    I love this post. I am all about sacrifices. I avoid several things that my friends purchase so I can amp up my retirement savings, pay down my mortgage faster, and save more in my rainy day fund. Those things are more important to me than satellite and designer labels.

    How has your spending changed, since this post was published? Are you still living with finance’s (wife’s?) parents? Still have the same car? I am just curious because isn’t there some point when a person gets tired of sacrificing?

    • Millennial Money Man Oct 7, 2016, 12:11 pm

      Thanks! Things have changed a lot – we moved out a while ago. My wife’s father was very sick, so when it got to the point that he was on hospice it got too hard to stay. Too many nurses/people in and out of the house. Very difficult situation.

      I sold the car for $4,750 and bought a $6,000 car haha. We basically got to the point where we have habits now, and think of them as sacrificing less. Life is good 🙂

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