Typically, the life we want is the life we already have, awakened and realized. Why then do we seek outside of the boundaries of our present situation attempting to create meaning? We make our lives a complicated web of schedules and activities, illusions and displays, Pinterest-perfect parties and pristinely packaged people. Is this what we naturally crave, this perfection? This perpetually just-out-of-reach goal of what we should be doing, should look like, should act like?
A value proposition is a company’s promise to deliver a product or service based on it’s attractiveness to the customer. So, in essence, we as consumers are dictating how a company markets it’s wares to us. “Well, YesWoman, that sounds pretty great” you say. “Being catered to feels good, it makes us feel important and seen and understood”. Wolves in sheep’s clothing, friends.
The downside of this type of value proposition is it targets our insecurities and the emotions tied to them, inundating us with messages to reinforce them. Unfortunately, this means no magical unicorn guru for our rational, logical, secure and confident selves. Have you ever seen a commercial that said, “you look beautiful without makeup, your 10-year old car runs perfectly, those post-baby pounds look glorious on you, please take care of your future by inserting as much of your income as possible to your self-directed investments”? Of course not.
What if the value proposition was, what do you ACTUALLY value. Not what does society say you should value, what does your neighbor value, what does the vacuum of social media value, but what do EACH. OF. US., individually, value. What brings joy and peace? What elevates our minds and strengthens our relationships? Take a minute and answer these questions for yourself. Let’s retrain our brains and our budgets to deliver to us what is MOST attractive.
Nine years ago, we decided it was time to be intentional about our values. At that time, we had collectively over $150,000 in consumer debt comprised of student loans, auto loans, and credit cards. We had a 2 year-old child and one on the way. We were both working full-time and paying for private pre-school. We were making well over six figures and barely paying our bills. We knew something had to change. We always had a budget but it was typically very short-sighted and rarely met.
The first big change we implemented was the development of our first intense short-term goal; a debt avalanche. We spent a year paying off credit card debt. During that time, we lived with only one car, gave up travel, eating out, and all non-essential spending. We replaced those activities by spending a good deal of time looking forward, setting goals, and budgeting for the long-term.
During this time of discovering our true values, we made what we consider one of the best parental decisions we have made for our children. Since then, it’s also become the best financial decision we have ever made for our family (even more-so than our real estate investments). We decided to go to a one-income family. “That seems counter-productive YesWoman”. Maybe, but here is the hard truth. With two full-time jobs, we were always juggling logistics. Who is managing the kids, who is managing the groceries and cooking, who is handling the finances and doctors appointments and house maintenance? The list is endless.
Going to one-income allowed for one of us to handle everything at home so the other could spend the weekday hours solely focused on aggressively maximizing our income. As the years progressed, much more was asked of the career spouse. Travel, networking, board seats, etc. were required, but it seemed doable given one of us was always home. It can sound cliche and dated, but for us it has and continues to work. Earning potential was the basis for the decision on which partner would fill which role and we understand there are many socio-economic factors that can play into this. The bottom line is, if you have children, the most efficient team setup is for someone to manage the offense while the other manages the defense.
We are almost a decade in and this decision, made originally with the sole purpose of being instrumental and present in our children’s lives, has proved also, to be the best investment we have made so far. To be clear, we have also invested in real estate, tightened up our spending, paid off every debt (except for our home) and continue to drive our 7 and 9 year-old cars. We have changed the way we view money and have put it to work for us instead of being a slave to it. It has afforded us the option of choosing how our children are educated and more than anything has created a sense of peace in our lives and if the tide shifts, we can move with it instead of being displaced by it or drowning.
Our family income has doubled in that time and that doesn’t take into account the retirement benefits that reaching upper management has afforded. We went from six figures in debt to a net worth of more than we could have imagined in less than 10 years. In this, we are not special. There are so many articles, podcasts and stories of other people achieving similar and even greater goals.
Our ultimate long-term goal is to create a “perpetual money machine” that will enable us to live our lives according to our value proposition; that time spent together, giving to those with less opportunities, traveling this vast world, learning and growing in mind, body and spirit; and being free to choose how we live out our days is what truly matters. If all of those values are realized by the time we are on our death beds but we don’t get our Tesla, we don’t think we’ll much give a damn.
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