When Does it Become Enough?

Alas, it’s another sleepless night. Here it is, after 7am and I have not yet found sleep. On a regular day, you certainly wouldn’t find me anywhere near waking up at this early hour. I think back to my days as a cadet at Georgia Military College, having to be up extremely early for PT and wonder, how did I manage that?! A different time, a younger LaToya.

The day started off well. I enjoyed afternoon tea with my mother, sister-in-law and 6-year-old niece. But since it was early enough in the day, there was still plenty of daylight left upon my return home. With my hubby spending the night with his Trini friends (overnight trips are encouraged since they enjoy drinking and most get togethers aren’t really my thing), I stayed home with the hopes of doing something, anything productive. However, I found that all I could muster yesterday was about an hour in the office. After picking up something to eat I came home and decided upon finishing up the last half of the current season of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Yep, it was definitely a binge kind of Saturday. Despite dozing off during moments of the final episode, upon getting up from the couch and putting things away, I found myself wide awake at 2am. Unable to sleep I decided to watch all the missing back episodes of Life or Debt. If you’re in a debt crisis or simply need to be scared straight, it is a really great show to watch. Unlike the approach that Jon Taffer uses in Bar Rescue, Victor Antonio is stern but compassionate. But don’t be fooled, if he needs to really get under your skin and into your head, he does.

Like many people, I think about the journey that I took to get into debt and the seemingly almost impossible task of getting out of it. The more I watch the show, the more immersed I become, the more I realize that I have to make some incredibly hard decisions. Rather, we need to make some hard decisions. I may have started on my own debt road alone, it’s been worsened by both my husband and I not being disciplined enough when it came to joint debt. We talk about it all the time and it’s often the underlying source of our stress. And yet, we just keep doing the same old things and somehow expect different results. The more I watch the show the more it gets me psyched, I become more and more acutely attuned to what is really going on. I do a great job at juggling. I excel at creating budgets but often lack the willpower to curtail the extra spending on dining out in order to start to make some really big steps in, as Dave Ramsey would say, remedying the situation with gazelle intensity. For years, we’ve lived above our means and now that I’m self-employed, the fear of the one bad day that could change everything weighs very heavily on me.

I’ve foolishly, routinely but briefly entertained the thought of cashing out my retirement account, one I earned while dedicating over a decade of my life to public libraries. I realize how the long-term loss would outweigh the short-term gain. However, it’s still very tempting. I also consider working more hours than I already do. But I think I need to devote more time and energy into working smarter, not longer and harder. I spend a great deal of time walking around the reflective pond, as they would say. I have considered what things I could do to earn some passive income and then become my own worst critic as I talk myself out of all the ideas that I come up with, deeming them to be sub par.

This is what I believe has caused me so many sleepless nights recently. Debt. Financial worry. I now fully know all of the numbers. I’ve been digesting the reality pill and am preparing to dig deep in order to make the long climb to financial peace and freedom. This isn’t something that we’ll be able to knock out in a year or even two years but we have to start somewhere. If  you’re at the bottom, all you can go is up, right? And the fact is, we are and have been so truly blessed. We live in a place that makes us very happy. It fills my aesthetic and lifestyle buckets in so many ways, but I know that we can’t rent forever. Well, I suppose you could but I’d like to at some point buy a condo. The older I get the more I know that things happen in their own time. There are some things that you get a gut feeling about and others that are forced. Then there are those, like this moment where it’s a combination of the two. We can’t keep living like this, only mostly adhering to our budget. It’s just time to make those hard decisions and stop being the victim.

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