Contentment....the turtle that always wins the race

Now that is as boring a topic as one can pick.  Oh, but if only you knew how powerful it truly is.

When you are able to find and sustain this elusive discipline, your potential (especially financially speaking) is actually limitless.  Manny and I are fully aware that many of our friends (and family members) not only think we’re crazy, but even feel sorry for us.  Because we are choosing to be content with where we are now.  Only WE can see where we’re headed, for those around us it’s just plain sad.

Linoleum floors, tiny house, ugly carpet and 1950’s cabinets.  Oh the sacrifice!  The shame of renting in a land of homeowners who clearly feel they deserve to own (even if the payments are well over 33% of their take home income) can become overwhelming.  But only if you lose sight of the “WHY” (more on that on my next post).

Our business decisions are ruled by the same guideline and have garnered much the same reaction.  Why wouldn’t you finance the purchase of a much larger practice that would bring in so much more in revenues and profits!? Why limit the size of your purchase to how much cash you have on hand? Because we want slow, steady, DEBT FREE, consistent growth.  We put the safety of our future and the future of our team members before any potential fast pass. And more than anything, we are keenly aware of the fact that our clients, and how we are able to serve them, dictate the future strength of our company.  NOT how fast we start and grow.  Cash on hand and no debt will ensure that our business, our team members, our clients and our family will survive the next economic downturn.  And not just survive, but thrive.

What will be your financial rock bottom?

We got our very own 9/11.  All to ourselves.  That’s the first thing that ran through my mind when the doctor walked in the ultrasound room and just looked at me.  Not a word came out of his mouth.  All I could say was “no, no, no” just like when I watched those towers go down.  This can’t be happening.

And so it was.  The doctor couldn’t say it so I had to ask.  Is he sick?  Yes.  Will he die?  Yes.  When? We don’t know.  How do I tell Manny?  I will.  You just stay here and wait.  So I waited for my husband to be introduced to our new hellish reality.  I used the time to decide how I would tell Alex and Noah that their baby brother would likely not live long enough to learn their names.

But wait, that wasn’t all.  This was 2008.  We were knee-deep in stupidity induced debt of every flavor.  Student loans, family loans, auto loans, 1st mortgage, 2nd mortgage, credit cards, medical bills and now a funeral we simply could not afford.  We planned Isaiah’s funeral during my 7th month of pregnancy.  I remember because while we were waiting for the “funeral planner” there was a pretty hefty earthquake (as if we weren’t shaken up enough already). Picking out your kid’s casket while he’s still alive and kicking inside of you is quite the experience.  But that was nothing compared to the shame I felt.  If rock bottom exists, we had hit it.  Hard.

I didn’t know if there was a way out of the hole we had gotten ourselves into.  But we knew we couldn’t save our son’s life.  We also couldn’t save the little girl we were expecting just a year later, so we worked on fixing the only thing we still had some power over.  We let go of the things we could not control, we placed all our faith in God and we got busy following the only plan that made any sense.  We were getting out of debt.

The house was already in foreclosure so we focused all our energy on paying off everything else we could.  Using the debt snowball, we started to see the power of small wins along the way and finally finding something in our lives we could save.

Fast forward 8 years.  We are completely debt free.  We have not had a credit card in years.  We have paid cash for both our vehicles, our kid’s college savings accounts are done with, our retirement savings are well on their way, we paid cash for our business (which is also debt free), we have emergency funds for both our business and household, we have an estate plan in place, we pay cash for our vacations and we are saving to pay cash for a house (yes, in Los Angeles).  Best of all, I gave birth to a crazy, beautiful, strong little girl in 2010 that is Daddy’s little princess (and mine). 

Nobody owns us anymore.  We own our lives, our jobs, and our freedom.  We take nothing for granted and today, we owe nothing to anyone but God.