Money, Minimalism, & Mental Health

It’s been a hot minute since I wrote something not travel-related so if you’re not here for it, keep scrolling. Some of you may recall that I was writing monthly recaps of my 2019 goals and that seems to have fallen by the wayside…somewhat on purpose!

I decided to take a step back from rigorous goal setting for the second half of 2019 and focus more on the general, vague, “how am I feeling about my life?” sort of perspective. And it has been great. I am a very goal-oriented person but this shift has been such a healthy one for me.

It’s been such a wonderful year so far and we’ve been so blessed — in all areas of our life — but especially financially. We paid off all of our debt in March and had a few months to celebrate our new debt-free life before making the choice to go back into debt.

Wait, what?

Yes, I said it. We made a calculated decision to go back into debt to buy our truck in June.

Was it the right decision? I think so, but time will tell. Ask me in a year and I’ll give you an update. Maybe we will change our minds and wish we would have done something different, but so far it’s given me no financial stress.

We knew we wanted to buy another vehicle after sharing one car for an entire year because it sucked. We could absolutely do it again if need be but it was not fun. We knew we wanted to invest in a good vehicle, one that we’d be able to use for all of the traveling we wanted to do this summer (and beyond) and one that would last a hell of a long time.

We ended up going with the Toyota Tacoma because it was Kevin’s dream, and it came down to me saying, “If you’re going to want this truck eventually, why don’t we just invest in it now?” It was also me that pushed Kevin to get the TRD Pro (the highest model) because again, why settle for something less than what you want — especially if you’re talking about a vehicle that you’re going to own for 15-20 years?

We had originally planned on buying the truck at the end of the summer so that we could save for a larger down payment, but we were ready to do some serious traveling and didn’t want to put it on hold. So we ended up buying it in June with a small down payment, effectively putting ourselves back in debt after becoming debt free just a few months prior.

We decided that the benefits of investing in the truck of Kevin’s dreams now far outweighed a minor setback in our debt-free journey. This is a vehicle that’s going to last us a long time (and we don’t plan on selling it in a few years to buy something newer and fancier). We’re currently paying more than double our monthly payment each month and our goal is to have it paid off by next August. I’ll post an update when the loan is paid off but currently, we feel like the small amount we’ll pay in interest was worth getting to buy the truck before we had all of the cash to pay for it.

Because if you haven’t noticed, it ain’t sitting around collecting dust! Kevin actually whines all the time about how many miles it’s got on it already and I’m like, babe, this is exactly why we bought it so we could drive to all these cool places! Sometimes, Kevin, sometimes.

Overall, I feel really good about where we’re at in our financial journey. We spent several months making this decision to buy the truck, it wasn’t like a drive by the dealership and hey guys so this happened thing, and maybe when we pay off the loan we’ll be like, man I wish we had done this a different way and I’m okay with that!

It’s all a learning experience and I think the most important thing is being able to talk about finances — with your spouse, obviously, but also with friends and family and people around you. If you’re uncomfortable talking about your finances, maybe that’s a sign that you’re afraid people will judge your decisions or you’re afraid you’re not making the right decisions. When we were racking up the credit card debt, I was terrified of telling my mom about it because I knew she’d hold me accountable and she would not listen to my bullshit. When we bought the truck, I called her and was like, “hey my dude, guess who just bought a $50,000 truck?!”

Because I was stoked and I had no buyer’s remorse and no stress! It was a planned expense and we had a plan to tackle the debt and it was our choice. I think buying the truck was a huge turning point for both of us — me in particular — in our minimalism journey.

If you don’t know what minimalism is, I don’t know what corner of the internet you’re hiding in. I highly recommend reading The Minimalist Home if you’re interested in a practical guide to getting started, but essentially what minimalism means to me is owning only what I love. In order to do that, I have had to clear my life of all kinds of clutter (physical, mental, digital, people, etc.) and I’ve made a lot of progress this summer.

After spending a year paying off debt, we may have let loose with our spending for a couple of months and have had to reign ourselves in a bit. Fortunately, we both get paid well at our respective jobs so we can afford to have a few “spendy” months. And, I am thankful that most of our extra spending was related to travel and not stuff.

Because I’ve spent most of the summer getting rid of our stuff. I’ve pared down my wardrobe to only the things I love and need, and I still find myself getting rid of things here and there. As it turns out, I prefer to wear the same five things every week.

I have made over $800 selling things on Facebook Marketplace. Although this makes me feel accomplished, I do recognize the fact that I would have much more than $800 if I had just never bought the shit in the first place. But, it’s a learning process and now we’re at the point where we’re living without a ton of excess stuff and we’ve evaluated our purchases over the past year and realized how much stuff we really didn’t need or want.

So now, heading into the last few months of 2019 my focus is going to be not letting stuff creep back in to my house and my life. We’re back on our budget bullshit, with a focus on — of course — those truck payments and some very aggressive savings goals for the rest of the year.

And the best part of this whole journey has been seeing how transformational this has all been for my mental health. Getting rid of visual clutter has made sitting on the couch in my living room much more peaceful and pleasant. It takes me about two hours every week to deep clean the house and do all the laundry. Realizing how much stuff I sold or donated that I thought I desperately needed has made me more mindful of what I’m still buying or bringing in. In August, I was buying a ton of stuff on Amazon and — after reevaluating whether I actually needed it — returned almost all of it.

It’s a learning process and I still feel like we could get rid of more things (maybe because I’m preparing us for life in an Airstream…), but it’s been so wonderful to see that it’s already had such a positive effect on my anxiety. This goes beyond physical clutter and I know I have touched on this in past post, but minimizing my relationships has truly done wonders. By letting go of relationships that no longer serve me, I’ve been able to devote so much more time and love to relationships that lift me up and bring me joy. Minimizing excessive time spent on social media trying to “stay in touch” with everyone and shifting my focus to having more meaningful contact with fewer people has made a huge difference.

I will continue focusing on minimalism in all aspects of my life as I’ve seen so many great benefits from it already, but one area that I’m most excited about applying it to is the holidays! I love giving (and receiving, I’ll say it) Christmas gifts, but I really want to shift my focus away from the gift-giving and toward the experience-having and memory-making. I’m really looking forward to that and I can’t wait to share how it goes.

As a side-note, I am considering doing a blog post version of a Christmas letter…more on that later!

I love writing about our travels and the blog is currently very travel-heavy, but I do like sharing these other aspects of my life and I hope you enjoy hearing about them! There will be more on money, minimalism, and mental health soon, so stay tuned!

Published by Sami Hertel

Oregon native, current Utah resident, blogging about my adventures on lifeafteroregon.com!

One thought on “Money, Minimalism, & Mental Health

  1. I love reading your blogs. I agree with you about gift giving but for the last 10 years or more of our lives we have given gifts that would be experiences of memories. Like last Christmas we gave tickets to see a play to our granddaughter and she loved it. So that memory will last longer anyway. When we have our anniversary like next week we are going to the lake that we use to go to when we were dating and taking a picnic. A memory is so much more important even though the gifts are nice also. Love homemade gifts cause someone took the time to do something special… Good for you and your husband that you are paying extra on your truck.
    Keep up the good work, goal setting… Thanks again for your blog. Darlene

    Like

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