The Importance of Sacrifice

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Nausea swept over me. I needed to sit down.

With just a few months left in college, I still had my head stuck in the sand about the student loan debt that I had acquired that would be due upon my graduation.

But, when the letter came in the mail with its warning of the impending doom of debt that was awaiting me at the end of the college marathon, my head was yanked from the sand, and my eyes just about popped out of my head.

This was all before the marriage of the Cash Cow Couple, but Jacob was there in the living room with me when I discovered how much debt I had acquired.

You would think with our upcoming union that he would be utterly annoyed that he was marrying into debt, but he wasn’t.

He wasn’t upset, or worried, or stressed.

Unlike me, he simply went into problem solving mode.

While I was pacing the room running through all the terrible scenarios, he simply came to the conclusion that we needed to sell my car to pay off the debt.

Ummmmm….what?

“Then we would only have one car. And I worked hard to pay off that car. I am not ready to give it up yet,” I objected.

Well, too bad.

And that was that. He sold my car (for the same amount I bought it no less! What a salesman he is.) And we used the money to pay off most of the school debt I had racked up.

While at the time I was not happy about it, what I learned from him that day was an invaluable lesson.

That lesson was the importance of sacrifice.

Sacrifice….ugh. That was a lesson I had no interest in learning. And sadly, most people never do learn.

There is a reason that the majority of people don’t like to talk about money matters and why we have an epidemic of financial problems and debt.

The reason is that there is a strong component of sacrifice involved in all things money related, whether that is spending, saving, investing, reaching financial freedom, etc. Financial success requires temporary sacrifice, and that is why most people never fulfill their goals and are left without ever realizing their dream lifestyle.

I can’t count the number of times per week that I hear someone mention that they’d rather not have to go to work, or they wish they could afford that vacation, or they wish they won the lottery because life would be so much better.

But then you mention just a small way for that person to get an inch closer to making that dream a reality, and you realize that their desire to complain is much stronger than their desire to make any sacrifices in their wasteful spending habits.  And you also realize that it will always be that way. Most people will never make the sacrifices necessary to get to where they think they want to go.

The part that is even more interesting is that it doesn’t have to be done in one night.

Small sacrifices over time become larger sums of money than you realize.

Is your goal financial freedom? Then you’re going to have to sacrifice a few conveniences. You’re going to have to sacrifice a few luxuries. You’re going to have to sacrifice the comfort of doing things the way you’ve always done them.

Is your goal to pay off your car or your house? Well, you’re not going to get there by buying a new one every 4 years. You can’t always have the latest and greatest.

When I was confronted by the uncomfortable world of debt, I was resistant to the necessity of sacrifice in my financial life. I wanted my nice car and I wanted to be debt free. Unfortunately, the two couldn’t coincide at the time.

Don’t be resistant to sacrifice like me. Embrace it and understand that the temporary pain is far less than the long term gain.

What about you? Do you think sacrifice is important? When did you learn to start sacrificing?

We wrote this post as part of the financial literacy awareness movement put together by Shannon at The Heavy Purse.

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone.

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Ravi
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Ravi

Great blog you two are managing, and it definitely inspires me to be more aware and careful of my finances, so big thanks and kudos to you both for that. I’d just like to add that the necessity for sacrifice is often preceded by that unnecessary desire to spend. I have seen so many friends of mine spend money on things they absolutely do not need while at the same time complaining how they are bereft of all-things-money. One really needs to tame the desire, and a long hard, honest analysis of whether one should really spend the money on… Read more »

Vanessa Lumby
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Vanessa Lumby

Hi Ravi, to answer your question, I had paid the car off about a year earlier by working 2 jobs over the summer. If we didn’t have the car to sell, we would have sold other things to pay off the student debt. The interest rate was crazy high, so that was definitely our priority.

FrugalSoldier
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FrugalSoldier

A great story and learning tool. You are right, we all sometimes want this and want that but if we have to sacrifice something to get it, then we are more times than not unwilling to do so. I love the point you make that if we make small sacrifices here and there, we will get to our goals. On the other hand, if we are not willing to make sacrifices, we will be singing the same old “i wish” song year after year.

Maggie@SquarePennies
Guest

That’s the trouble with sacrifice–it hurts! At least you got the debt under control. We had just one car fora while and that was when we had kids. It was a pain, but we managed. Now having 2 vehicles feels like luxury. You’ll be so glad you did this as more things are possible in your life without that debt. Congrats!

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

I too have learned the beauty of bringing my future into my present. I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing when I take the time to think about what’s most important to me. I jot down what I most want to achieve. I then ask myself how I’ll feel if I’m unable to achieve what’s on my list. When I’m focused on what’s most important, the spontaneous urge to buy something slips away. I don’t have that yucky feeling that I’m going without. Instead, I’m maximizing the probability of achieving what will truly make me happy.

Melanie@Dear Debt
Guest

I had a similar story before I started grad school and after as well. I had so much debt and wasn’t sure how I was going to deal with it. I’ve sacrificed a lot and lowered my lifestyle expenses. It feels weird being almost 30 and more broke then I was at 23. But I’m determined to pay off this debt. Sacrifice is a lesson in patience. Thanks for sharing your story!

EcoCatLady
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EcoCatLady

Hmmm…. I’m not sure that I’d use that word. I think it’s more like “opportunity cost.” In other words, you only have so much money, time & energy, and every time you choose to commit some of those limited resources to one thing, you forfeit using them for something else. But for me, at least, when I was first starting out on the journey of undoing my societal programming (ie, getting away from the idea that spending is “fun” and saving is “no fun.”) it really helped to look at it as a choice between two things – spending money… Read more »

Girl Meets Debt
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Girl Meets Debt

That’s awesome you were able to sell the car at what you bought it for! I’ve been learning a lot about sacrifice this past year and while it’s no fun, it’s completely necessary if you want to accomplish something. 🙂

Vanessa Lumby
Admin
Vanessa Lumby

Absolutely! I agree. It’s no fun at all, which is why most people never get around to it. I’m so glad you are!

Shannon @ The Heavy Purse
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Shannon @ The Heavy Purse

“you realize that the threat of sacrifice is stronger than their desire for that dream lifestyle.” I see this often. We get set in our ways and to a certain lifestyle and even though we profess to want things that are out of reach, we are unwilling to make the necessary changes. One thing I try to do with people is make them understand those so-called sacrifices are not really sacrifices if they lead you to getting what you truly want – early retirement, frequent vacations, a new home, etc. Because so many of us feel deprived when we tell… Read more »

Vanessa Lumby
Admin
Vanessa Lumby

Thank you for inviting us to participate!
I like your way of thinking. Changing perspective is a good way to avoid the nasty s word…sacrifice. 🙂

Shannon @ Financially Blonde
Guest
Shannon @ Financially Blonde

Sacrifice is definitely an important component to financial health. I always like to play the song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” to my son to reiterate that point. But like you point out, it is nice to know that small sacrifices over time will pay off down the road.

Vanessa Lumby
Admin
Vanessa Lumby

Ha! I don’t know that song, but that sounds like you have some really great teachable moments with your son. That’s awesome.

Kerry
Guest
Kerry

While it must have been tough to sell your car, it must have been kind of freeing to see that student debt burden nearly vanish. And yes, I think sacrifice is huge. It is a tough lesson to learn, but I’m really trying to think about the big stuff I want to support. We want to pay the mortgage and fund our kids’ college education and retire without being a burden to our children. Some of those goals are years away, so it can be challenging to sacrifice today, but we’re getting there, slowly but surely!

Vanessa Lumby
Admin
Vanessa Lumby

Wow. Sounds like you have some huge goals for your financial life. Good for you guys! Keep up the good work and the tough sacrifices.

And yes, it was freeing to see the debt vanish, and that was the point that I realized how right Jacob was about sacrifice. The bonus to that is that we operate with just one vehicle now, and I can’t imagine it any other way.

Kathy
Guest
Kathy

On our way to financial freedom we made quite a few small sacrifices like no eating out, no movies etc., and a couple of large ones, like no vacations and staying in a moderately priced home. One sacrifice that we could not make is two vehicles since we lived in the country with no public transportation and we worked in two different directions. I would have been happy buying used cars, but my husband’s philosophy was that buying used is buying someone else’s problems. So that was definitely something that was not a sacrifice. Everyone has to choose their priorities.

Vanessa Lumby
Admin
Vanessa Lumby

What sacrifices did you find to be the hardest to make?

Kathy
Guest
Kathy

For me it was the fact that there was no money to hire things done so all the work to maintain our five acres with huge garden and orchard was done by us. And it was a lot of really hard work, especially when we were both working full time as well as raising a son who was involved in school athletics and other activities. Did I mention it was a lot of hard work? I mean realllly a lot!!