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Before and After – Mindset Change



When I would receive an unexpected windfall, I would immediately plan something fun for it. A shopping trip, a weekend getaway or a meal out at a nice restaurant. In my head, I remember those times being kind of the the stages of manic depression…

Really high highs when I was flush with cash, even though there were bills unpaid, debt hanging over my head, etc. I would neglect things that should have been paid for things I wanted to do.

This time of high or joy would be followed by really low lows when I would question everything especially my parenting skills.

After…or rather Now

There have been several commenters who point out my “poor” person mentality. The example the first one gave was that I bought several magnets as souvenirs when we went to Chicago in February. I found that laughable. My $10-15 of souvenirs is what indicates a “poor” person mindset. I think it is more representative of a frugal sentimentalist. I know LOTS of people who have far more expensive mementos they pick up on every trip they take. (And they are far from poor.) When we began traveling way back when, I think Princess was a month or two old when I took her on her first trip, I chose a memento that was not expensive, easy to travel with and would last forever.

fridge full of magnets

Our adventure magnet collection…not a day goes by that I am reminded of a past adventure when I go to grab something out. Wonderful memories!

I don’t see how wanting something to hang on to and remember our adventures is indicative of “poor” person mentality. Nor do I see how encouraging and supporting my daughter as she become more independent is a “poor” person process. But who knows…

Back to the now…

In the last few weeks, work has pick up significantly, and not just steady daily work but larger website projects as businesses ramp up their online presence. I am getting a lot more project work than normal and that is what I refer to these days as an unexpected windfall. Instead of earning steady money every week, which I am doing as well, these projects come with hefty deposits and final payments. And I can turn most of them pretty quickly when I have time to just sit down and work…

But with these monies, instead of jumping to spend it, blowing it on some whim. I am learning to let it sit.

Part of that is the result of having been in storm mode for the last couple of months. But it is also helping me change my mindset and my gut/emotional reaction to having money that is not earmarked for something. And that has been huge…and sometime hard. But a big change for me.

The good news is that in just a week or so out from my decision to focus on the smaller of my two student loans, I have no paid 2 months of payments directly to that loan. Seeing such quick progress is very motivating.




  • Reply Anonymous |

    It’s funny that you post this picture and story as justification and still can’t see the “poor person” mentality. All I see here is hundreds of dollars worth of junk souvenirs that could have been spent on debt… from vacations you really couldn’t afford.. but you’ll continue to find justification for this money spent so there is no helping you to see it any other way.

    • Reply Hope |

      I suppose the saying “one person’s junk is another person’s treasure” applies here.
      But I will respectfully disagree, I don’t think the “hundreds” of dollars as you put it over the last 16 years is a waste at all.
      And I don’t think that’s a poor person mentality…

      • Reply amy |

        I think what you are not seeing is that those magnets were purchased just to be purchased. They were not a need…where paying off your debt was. I am sure you have photos from each of those trips…why was another remembrance needed? That is where the poor person mentality came in. You bought them because you WANTED them, not needed them. You bought them when you truly couldnt afford them, because you WANTED them. You took the trips because you WANTED to even though your financial state was not solid. That is what is meant by making choices with the poor persons mentality

        • Reply Hope |

          Have you ever looked at a picture and have no clue when or where it was taken?
          Well, I do. All the time. I stopped relying on pictures for memories many, many years ago.
          Not to mention, they are a pain to review or lug around. (In face, I just purged all my pictures from my middle and high school years. I dug through 6 boxes of pictures, hundreds of thousands of pictures and kept maybe 100, maybe. Mostly because I didn’t remember the people or the places in them.) I’m just not a picture person.
          But I LOVE my magnets. Every time I see one I remember something different about that place. Or I remember who was there.
          And for all our moves, they all fit in one shoe box versus the literal hundreds of pounds of other pictures.

  • Reply Klm |

    Hope, it’s not about the magnets. It’s about justifying every.single.UNECESSARY purchase. You take vacations because you deserve a break and can do it cheap (Cheap is not free). You buy souvenirs because they don’t cost much. Princess gets her license because you don’t want to take that from her. Until you actually hold yourself to the budget and standards you write down, you’re not going to get anywhere. And you always have some “yeah but” that is going to keep you poor.

    • Reply Hope |

      We’ve actually been living well below our budget for a long time now.

      • Reply Klm |

        Well, since you never post your actual monthly spending, and we have no idea what’s in your savings/EF, I guess we’ll have to take your word for it.

        • Reply Hope |

          I live by my budget. Anything in those categories not spent is rolled into the next month.
          And my EF is well over $10K as I have stated multiple times. it hit $10K at the beginning of the year. And I’ve continually stated that I have not touched it.
          I create my budgets with data from tracking every expense for over a year now. And I know myself well enough to create a budget I can live with and not blow (been there and done that.)

          • Klm |

            So…. you live by your budget, which includes debt repayments, but your debt balances never go down. So you’re not paying enough which means your discretionary spending is too high. And you dump everything extra into your EF, which is above $10K. What’s the goal for it? Why are you not using the extra it to pay down your debt?

          • Hope |

            Actually my debts were going down steadily, but as I wrote a couple of months ago when everything hit with the pandemic, I went into storm mode. And started just saving every spare penny versus pay anything that wasn’t necessary.

          • Klm |

            What debts are going down steadily? You just posted that it’s taken you 17 years to pay off $5000 in student loans! Then again, we haven’t seen a debt update recently so again, I’ll just take your word for it.

      • Reply Cwaltz |

        When you are in debt compound interest is not your friend. Stop letting your money sit unless it is your emergency fund(and since you are living on last month’s money and have over $10,000 there is no excuse to put it there anymore.)Extra money- into student debt, not sitting in the bank.

        As far as budgeting goes, you’re an expert at making budgets. You need work on following them. This year alone you are working on budget revision 4, 5 months into the year. You had the pie budget where you were going to be paying $800 a month to debt that apparently never happened.the storm budget where you paid nothing but spent money beautifying your yard. The pre Princess job and insurance budget at $3500 that has minimums on debt and now the Princess has her licence and job so I’ll be adding insurance, subtracting allowance, and in general switching more stuff around with the minimum promised to debt. Most people tweak budgets by a few dollars here or there, you adjust your budgets monthly by hundreds of dollars and in general when you adjust you aren’t adjusting where you need to-in the debt category. Deep down you KNOW this. Adjust your budget while you are adjusting to dedicate $600 to debt($100 in interest and $500 to principle). Then pay it every month until the year ends. No excuses. It’s a priority.

  • Reply Den |

    That change in mentality is huge! And I love your magnets – great memories! I collect Christmas tree ornaments from places we’ve visited – now my tree is getting too full but I love it!

  • Reply Cheryl |

    Well I have one magnet on my fridge from a trip to Florida last year that my husband wanted me to get. The trip was my spending not the stuff to remember. You said spending hundreds on stuff over the years isn’t alot but maybe you should have paid the money you borrowed for your education and not wasted it on a vacation no matter how low cost it was. My husband taught me that you pay your bills than buy what you want. Doesn’t bother you to still have those loans after all these years? We wouldn’t be going anywhere.

  • Reply Laura |

    The souvenirs aren’t a problem. Multiple trips a year when you still have debt is the problem.

  • Reply Jennifer |

    You are riding a high right now and a low will come….are you ready

    • Reply Hope |

      Actually, I’m very stable right now. Or actually pretty low. There are other things happening outside of the financial world in my life that are very hard.
      In fact, facing the firing squad here at BAD is much easier than my real life right now.
      But my work life, my financial life is going better than ever. I learned so much when my business went belly up. Even during this pandemic downturn, it’s good.

      • Reply Cwaltz |

        We aren’t a “firing squad” Hope. We’re people concerned about your future and people that want you to have nice things. We want you to have a home(not just a house) where the kids can come on Thanksgiving or Christmas to visit with you and each other. We want you to have enough financial security that when the kids start having grandkids you can stop working for a month to go be with your kids and your new family member without having to worry or use food stamps because of the lack of income. I want that for you. Unfortunately, I can want and want and want but I can’t make you see your feast and famine approach to debt is working against you not for you. Try my approach. PLEASE. It requires DEDICATING money beyond the minimum to debt(but not obscene amounts that will cause you to fail one month and give up the next)and following through for months- no adjusting down or stopping because…….(fill in the blank with whatever reason family trip because gymnast “needs”, princess “needs”, ex spouse “wants”, mom and dad “want”, family members “want”).

        I’m going to challenge you Hope, 7 months of $600 to debt IN THE BUDGET and follow through. You can throw more at it if you like but no less than that $600. If you do this there is a good chance the student loans for the first time ever will have a 2 rather than a 3 up front. If you continued the following year it would fall below $25,000. I have earlier outlined options like cutting senior year expenses from the budget(I actually left her allowance for those types of expenses- her expenses, her choice on whether these niceties are worth the funds), reducing the EF to $100 since you have essentially 4 months of income using a $3500 budget now and in an emergency your budget could be readjusted in that 4 month time frame ,cutting spotify(use the ad version) reducing gifts by $5(still gives you $540 which is plenty for nice meal out for their 4 birthdays and $50 gift for each kid.) and Christmas by $15 ($85 was your pie in the sky budget amount earlier) and travel by $10(let’s face it travel right now is not safe so unless it’s essential- don’t do it. ) My budget outline gives you the means to put that $295 extra to those student loans and it does it wh
        ile still giving you a Christmas and nice birthdays and even a very thrifty trip($480 vs $600). It’s not a bare bones budget and only requires moderate discomfort( cutting back vs. giving up) Hopefully, Princess can afford the $150 every 2 weeks for insurance with her job(because that was not in budget 3) It requires the kids and adults around you lock in their plans and quit expecting Hope to adapt every month to whatever whim. You can do this Hope. Advocate for yourself.

        PS. I’m sorry you are struggling personally. It makes it that much more important though that you start thinking of yourself instead of adjusting and readjusting because others want you to. I’m not gonna lie it takes practice saying no and it may take more than once for people to believe you mean it.

        • Reply Kili |

          Cwaltz, those are Really Good and doable Suggestions.
          This Shows how to Scale back without completely omitting fun Things.
          Seems way better than an all Or nothing approach.

          Hope, I wish you strength for Financial decisions That will help you in the Long run.

  • Reply Shanna |

    I completely agree with Hope about the magnets from travel. They are an inexpensive way to remember a fun holiday/trip! We buy them every place we go (and a Christmas ornament). My son LOVES the magnets, he has them on a big board in his room, and as a family we enjoy getting out the ornaments every year and remembering the trip. I find the inexpensive remembrances to be a great financial choice for souvenirs. We travel internationally extensively every year and these are really my favorite things to bring home. And Hope, just keep dumping all that extra money into your student loans as principal, I bet. you can hammer out quite a bit right now!

  • Reply Lily |

    The magnets aren’t the problem, the trips themselves are the problem. You can’t afford to take trips. You can’t afford to pay for your daughter’s car insurance. Your actions run contrary to your stated goal of getting out of debt.

    I get it. If I had a blog about losing weight, the comments would be just as brutal to me because I’m constantly eating french fries and gaining and losing the same 10 lbs. Shrugs. It is what it is.

    Perhaps you should think about whether blogging is right for you at this time. Or if getting out of debt is really your goal.

  • Reply Meghan1227 |

    I think these magnets are a perfect example of the mentality you think is a joke. Each magnet represents something to you, most often travel. Look at each of these magnets and consider how much that trip it represents cost. If we frugally say that each magnet represents a $500 trip, how many thousands of dollars over the past 17 years of your student loan debt could have been paid off but are instead stuck to your fridge.

    There seems to be such a fear of missing out that you continue to justify expenses and focus on the non-issues.

    When you say you have already made two monthly payments with your extra income, is this two standard minimum payments? Two of the $1700 payments you calculated needing to pay monthly to pay off one of the two loans within a year?

    • Reply Hope |

      I would counter that many even most of the magnets reprepsent a trip that cost next to nothing…a visit to a college, work trips (paid by clients,) family trips paid by parents…etc.
      Most of my travel since having kids has been to see family. These aren’t elaborate expensive trips.
      My parents took us on a cruise, my parents took us to Disney, my work took us to California, North Carolina, Texas and a slew of other places over the years.
      And those that haven’t been paid for by someone else or to see family were covered by points.
      There are plenty of ways to travel very frugally, I have written about it many times.
      It’s not justification, it’s just fact.

      • Reply Laura |

        “Paid for with points” is not free. There is an opportunity cost that comes with every single “free” trip you’ve chosen to take. Credit card points could have been used as direct cash payments back onto the credit card, for grocery or gas gift cards that directly pay for a Need not for a Want. As usual, you’re justifying what you want and ignoring the underlying issue.

        You described well in the intro, how you go into a high and get all excited when you have extra cash, only to crash later. Then state that you’re booming with lots of extra cash right now. Can you really not follow that same train of thought through the blog post to see that you’re in a temporary high phase and you’re happily justifying everything you’re currently choosing?

        • Reply Hope |

          Believe me, I’m far from high at this point. There are things beyond my financial life going on that keep me very grounded.
          And my points aren’t from a credit card, I only have one credit card and it’s a cashback card which immediately feeds that balance back onto the card.

          • Laura |

            Then where do these magical points come from? You don’t earn hotel points from free stays. If your family is paying for your hotel stays, then they are entitled to keep those points since it was their booking. Spending $120 on a hotel night to get a credit for 1/9 of a future night is not free and it is not saving money. Getting points in any other manner means the points can be used for needs and not hotels. This whole situation seems poorly thought out and poorly done.

          • Deb |

            You never addressed or answered Meghan’s orginal question regarding the student loan payment. Can this be answered in a timely manner or are we to wait for another post regarding any decisions about your student loans?

  • Reply Monica R. |

    Oh my goodness, what I like to challenge everyone that is questioning Hope’s mental state is to put out their budgets, debts, student loans, car loans for all to see. Is very easy to hide behind a screen and to write such venomous words.

    Please be kind.

    Hope, I’m praying for you and your family. I ask that G-d would bless you tremendously with His peace, wisdom and understanding. Psalms 91

    • Reply Deb |

      I brought home about 4400 dollars in the past month according to my paychecks. I don’t have any credit cards, no car payments, and have a small savings of 3500 in the bank. I have a student loan that I owe 9400 on and in the past month have made three payments, one was 788, another was 800, and the most recent one was 400 dollars. I worked a lot of extra hours to get the cash needed to make a huge dent in my student loan. I have a mortgage also and a car repair that I will be cash flowing for 1800 dollars. It can be done if one has the discipline and accountability to do it. I support a family of five on my sole income.

    • Reply Klm |

      I’d be glad to. Because you know what? I paid off my student loan debt, drive cars into the ground, limited my spending while I was paying off debt and saving, and am saving for retirement. What I’m not doing is plodding along with a new plan every few months and a newly added debt.

    • Reply Laura |

      My family has no debt other then our mortgage, because we don’t live beyond our means and weren’t taking multiple vacations a year and buying $20k cars when we still had student loans.

    • Reply Drmaddog |

      Not a problem. I’m single, no kids.
      1. MIlitary paid for medical school so that I had no medical school loan debt. Paid back the time I owed and left in 2014.

      2. Had $16K in student loans for graduate school that I paid off in approximately 3 years, while a medical resident.

      3. Divorced in late-twenties, letting my ex take the 401K and savings, starting over from zero, because he didn’t want the divorce and I just wanted to be done with it.

      4. Just before the divorce, we paid off his new car in less than 3 years, partially with money that was supposed to be put down on mine, so I had a new car loan to pay off myself after divorce. Did this in 3.5 years while a medical resident. I still have it, 16 years old, approaching 190K miles. I hope to get at least 250K out of her.

      5. After restarting my retirement funds, I put every step raise towards it, as well as any money that was freed up from paying off debt. Worked up to maxing out my TSP and a roth IRA over….6ish years maybe? It was an enormous achievement the year I finally did, and I was very proud and relieved.

      6. AFter leaving the military for civilian practice, I continued to live on only a little more than I did in the military, about 1/3 of my salary. 1/3 to taxes. the other 1/3 to retirement, savings, investing, and paying down mortgage.

      7. Purchased a home 5 years ago, with 20% down. I’ve been paying aggressively since, because I was very uncomfortable with owing so much money, even for a house. I now owe approximately 35% of the original purchase price (or approx 28% of home’s current value)

      8. I recently refinanced my mortgage to lock in lower interest rates. New payment will be $629, but I will add to that so that the rate of principle paydown stays the same.

      9. My luxury is travel, and I go overseas 2-3 times a year. I stay in 3 star hotels, generally. 5-star luxury is wasted on me, because I spend most of my time sightseeing.

      10. Every month, I pay my bills, and immediately transfer amounts to cash savings and investment accounts. With any bonuses, I sit and look at it in my bank account for a few minutes, then transfer it the same.

      11. I have a large cash savings that I could live off of….3-4 years perhaps. Quite comfortably for at least 2.

      I do all of this because I have a ‘why’, two in fact. 1. medicine is a very hard and stressful way to make a living, and I want to leave medicine while I still have ample time to enjoy my life. and 2. I want to move to Europe at some point.

      I’m guessing there may be some out there who say ‘but you’re a doctor, ANYONE making that can do that’. As a counter to that, I would argue that I have been making ‘doctor’ money for only the last six years, and while that has markedly increased the rate at which my savings/investments are growing, I have been making what I consider to be wise financial choices, living on less, delaying gratification, and being careful not to inflate my lifestyle. So, anyone could perhaps, but most don’t.

      I haven’t provided more detail because I’m not the one who has volunteer to blog in a public forum about getting out of debt, but I hope this addresses your question of my credibility.

      • Reply Drmaddog |

        One last item I forgot, I also endeavor to donate approximately 10% of my post-tax income to my charities of choice. I don’t always hit it, but I’ve gotten close. I have done this the past 5 years.

    • Reply Monica R. |

      Excellent, I really enjoy reading other’s successes.

      Here is mine, I was married for over 20 years. I stayed home to homeschool our children. We cut e v e r y t h i n g to make that happen. (Just for perspective my H was an apprentice electrician.), when I came home to be with my children.

      My goal was always to pay all our debt off. We had about $15,000 cc, $18,000 car loan, and $100,000. we owed for our home. We started Dave Ramsey in 2007. The last debt was our home and I set my focus on our house to be paid off by my 50 birthday {Nov. 2016} we did it Dec. 26, 2016 and right before our 20th anniversary in March 2017.

      Late 2017 G-d showed me that my H was not faithful. That I found out is a miracle. So I had not worked from 2001. I had to find a job, find a school to put my third child into school, and file for divorce. Truly by G-d’s grace I am were I am. I own a paid off home, a 200,000. mile – 2003 Honda Odyssey, a wonderful job as TA in 4th grade Charter school. I was also able to pay $10,000.in cash for D day. Right now I’m saving for a newer vehicle.

      All that being said I just don’t think it’s right to ever question a person’s mental state. In this time we live in. I thank now is the time to pause and thank G-d for what He has given all of us.

      • Reply Drmaddog |

        To be clear, I am not saying Hope is mentally ill. In financial circles, there is a concept called ‘poor person thinking’ or ‘poor person mentality’ that describes how someone thinks and behaves with money. That concept and mental illness are two different things.

  • Reply Drmaddog |

    Most of this post is a perfect example of poor person mentality. Focusing on the cheap souvenirs you purchased, arguing you could have bought something more expensive, while ignoring the unnecessary $20k+ you spent to get a brand new car when something much less expensive could have done the job, bringing your total debt over $50k, with no health care budget, no retirement savings budget, no college savings, insisting you must have that car after carrying student loans for, what is it, 17 years?

    You focus on counting pennies while you ignore the stacks of dollars that are going up in flames. And you are free to do that. Live whatever life you want. You just have no credibility from a debt-reduction standpoint, in my opinion. Like Lily’s post above, there’s not a lot of reason to take someone seriously when they blog about a topic but act in direct contradiction to it.

    Until you are brutally honest with yourself and take serious responsibility for your decisions, not much will change. Unfortunately for you, I expect you’ll still be in a similar place some years from now. Where you go is 100% up to you , but if you choose to blog publicly in a forum like this and not your own personal blog, you should expect to be challenged and met with incredulity, if you continue down this path.

  • Reply Ellen |

    I wish you could stand on the outside and look in at yourself. You try to justify every bad decision you make. You don’t answer questions and it seems that you ignore good advice. You’re going to do things your way no matter how many people tell you that it’s dumb or just a big mistake. You give us budgets with a lot of holes and change your mind on what you’re paying and how much regularly. In 5 years you have accomplished barely nothing. You paid off the small debts and added more to your plate. I don’t think anybody here expects you to get out of debt anymore. It’s like a car crash that you can’t look away from.

  • Reply Canan Onat |

    To all the commenters: Please relax. Everybody learns from their own mistakes. If mankind was able to learn from other people’s experiences, I am sure we would not be where we are, as a species. I keep hearing Arthur’s Theme at the back of my mind as I read your comments and Hope’s answers. ….. “Hope, she does as she pleases. All of her life she’s mastered choice. Living her life one day at a time… ” She is not as bad as Arthur really. She is just not you or I. We have different priorities and different worries in life. She had a new post today that another foster child would be living with her. I am sure I saw that post. For some reason, it is not here now. May be she needed to edit it, may be she withdrew it because many commenters would say it is crazy, I don’t know. She has a big heart but, she lacks the finances to do what her heart desires. Anyway, whatever you say will not a change a thing. Hope will be Hope. I just would like to see a new blogger here, who has some manageable debt and who has a serious plan and whom we can cheer on as he/she slashes debt. Someone who will become debt free in a couple of years will do wonders for this community.

  • Reply Cwaltz |

    We owe less than $90,000 on our home that we pay less than $1000 a month for. I just paid $4700 in cash for a roof. I’m working on saving several thousand to replace fencing next(will also be paid for with cash.)We have a credit card we pay off monthly. My spouse does have a very expensive car but also does not get a choice on commuting and before we bought it was required to scale back on his phone because basic Economics 101 explains it best when they say you have limited means to fill unlimited wants and I was not going to ask everyone else to cut back because he likes shiny expensive things. I nixed a second motorcycle even though I love him very, very much.

  • Reply csdx |

    Personally I’m not against getting small souvenirs from places (I say while eyeing my trip tchotchke shelf), but couldn’t putting a small iconic photo from each trip on the fridge serve the same purpose as a magnet? Ironically I used to collect trip magnets as a kid, but semi-recently when browsing through them, couldn’t remember where I had gotten some of them from.

    Recently with photos becoming so digital and easily saved to an always accessible cloud location I’ve fallen out of paring down photos. Which actually makes it worse in some ways as it is much harder to just flip through since all my junk shots are still in there.

  • Reply Sharon |

    These souvenirs are really special. Princess would grow up to see all these and understand the value. And about the “poor person mentality”, it is temporary, it will go away. But what you learnt from it will stay

So, what do you think ?