Think Sacrifice, Not Deprivation

I have what could be characterized as 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 bank credit I could get my hands on to create a lifestyle I so richly deserved.

I tried to stop using credit cards in order to not spend money we didn’t have. I tried to fit my spending into a budget. But all of that spelled just one thing for me: deprivation.

I felt like I was being punished the same way 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.

But then, I made a startling personal discovery that would 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, it’s not going to happen.

Deprivation does not work for food or money. But sacrifice does. Sacrifice means giving up something of value now to achieve something far more valuable in the future. Deprivation means having 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 lack. 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 because I am aware that what I am giving up right now is temporary and will allow me to reach my goal. That’s assuming I have a goal and a plan to reach it. And that’s what this column and the concept of debt-proof living are all about. Every day, I try to encourage you, in a myriad of ways, to do whatever it takes to get out of debt and go on living below your means so debt never becomes an issue again.

Sacrifice: It’s a beautiful thing.

Mary invites questions, comments and tips at “mailto:mary@everydaycheapskate.com”>mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.