Friday, April 29, 2016

So What if I Am STILL a Server!?

I moved to Nashville to go to Belmont University in order to be in the music industry. I took a job right before enrolling at a downtown bar/restaurant/music venue to help support myself through school. Fast forward almost 9 years, and I am still working at this same place part-time on nights and weekends in order to help support my Belmont student loan pay-off. I am no longer in the music industry as I took a job in corporate America working 8-5 for a bigger salary in order to pay off the loans I accumulated while at Belmont.

This bar/restaurant/music venue is a tourist place for sure; we do not have ‘regulars,' and for the most part, I seldom see any friends there that reside in Nashville. However, being the music venue that we are, we sometimes have up-and-coming country bands play for a spot to be a regular house band of ours. That being said, I was working last night and there were 4 different up-and-coming bands playing. It seemed like it was going to be a normal night in tourist town except that I kept seeing people I knew. They were all there to see their friends play in the various bands. A couple of them came up to me to say hello and to tell me they were there with so and so who is currently on stage. My conversations with them were quick given it was a busy night for me, but out of the 5 people I saw and conversed with, 2 of them made it a point to insinuate the word still in conversation with my employment there. They said it in the oh so southernly sweet, ‘bless your heart’ kind of way, but the insult was heard loud and clear.

I felt embarrassed and ashamed. There they were in their cute, bright colored spring clothes with their high heeled shoes hanging out with the band; there I was in my dark barbecue covered t-shirt looking like a sweaty mess sporting an old baggy apron stillworking as a server. Then my pride kicked in and I thought of how great it is to be 6 months away from a debt-freedom that a few of them may never experience. I know at least one of those ladies still have college loans and there is no telling what else the rest have financed along the way.

So yes, I am stilla server.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Drinking From the Same Lemonade Stand

I keep my expenses low and pay off debt.

Some don’t.

Does that make me better than them? No. Lately I have been trying to not judge others too harshly on their personal decisions because they are just that, their personal decisions. I can try and explain to my friends and peers the benefits of my financial lifestyle, but at the end of the day, I need to be okay with them choosing their own way. And I also need to be okay with them judging me for my ways as well.

I get aggravated when I watch friends who I know are in student loan and credit card debt go on shopping sprees, finance cars that are way beyond what they can afford, drink all that Starbucks has to offer, eat out every night, and vacation like it’s their job. All of these friends are in their 20s. The decisions they are making now will follow them into the remainder of their adult lives. It is not my place to say my method is better than theirs, but I get aggravated when they casually ask for financial advice, I provide them with such, and they eventually veer off until they are in the complete opposite direction of what we discussed. 

Many think a hyper-focused method of paying off debt is nothing more than an unhealthy Dave Ramsey obsession; brainwashing if you will. However, I disagree. There are many other financial gurus besides Dave Ramsey that practice the same techniques: Warren Buffett, Suze Orman, and Mr. Money Mustache to name a few. They might have differences in their approaches, and I personally relate to Dave Ramsey’s the best, but all 3 teach on the same goal: being debt free. Is it different? Weird? Extreme? You bet. Does that make it brainwashing? No. And unfortunately being debt-free seems all three of those aforementioned things because so many Americans have turned their back on their own finances. I haven’t heard mention of anyone abandoning any beliefs or going through torture of any kind on my debt-freedom journey thus far. Paying off debt is merely a personal discipline in order to better your future. Hard work? You bet. Maybe that might feel like torture for some :) 

In all seriousness, debt pay-off takes WORK, FOCUS, DEDICATION and SACRIFICE, and since those are not normal actions for most people, they wrap the idea of it up as a package labeled CrAzY in their minds. But ask any millionaire how they got where they are, and I bet the answer will have nothing to do with them staying in debt.

For those of us in debt: we were all handed the same frickin’ lemons. As life tells us to do, we make lemonade out of them. Some of us are paying 25 cents to drink it from paper cups and some of us are paying $1 to drink it out of crystal glasses. The ones momentarily sacrificing the finer things in life by drinking from the 25 cent paper cups will be able to afford their pitcher faster and move on to a non-lemon beverage. Those drinking from the $1 crystal will be stuck in their lemon situation for longer than they need to be before they can move on to something better. Either way, it is the same lemonade that we are all drinking, but ultimately, it’s the decision of how we handle it while it is in our hands that counts. Ditch the crystal, drink from paper for a while. You’ll thank yourself later.