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Sticking to Your Principles When the Going Gets Tough

June 19, 2015

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Sticking to your principles is tough when life gets complicated. Here are ways to reconcile your principles with the hard times via @shoeaholicnomoreI’m still out-of-town for work, so today I have a guest post for you from a new blogger friend, Jessica. Enjoy!

Like so many of us, I’ve always got money on the brain. As a CPA and personal finance blogger, I’m always thinking about how to manage my client’s money, thinking of new blog topics about how to save and invest money, and of course I’ve got my OWN money on my mind too.

It’s really easy to dole out sound financial advice to others: pay off debt as soon as you can, keep an emergency fund, etc. It’s also easy to stick to these basic financial principles when things are easy and cash is flowing. But when the going gets tough, it can be really hard to dig deep and stay financially responsible. So this summer, my husband and I find ourselves in a “going gets tough” scenario where we have to make some hard choices about our spending. How did we get here we keep asking ourselves? Here is a timeline of some of our slip-ups:

September 2014: We Bought A House a Little Over Our Budget.

We knew what the max purchase price for our house would be by still getting a 15 year mortgage (a big financial goal of ours), and when we found THE HOUSE, it was slightly above it but we agreed to make it work. I mean, this was THE HOUSE.

November 2014: We Started Interior Renovations.

Even though we had found THE HOUSE, it still needed some improvements. Some of them were cosmetic, while others were absolutely necessary. Like so many home improvement projects, we ran over budget with the cash we set aside and needed to put some of the expenses on a 0% interest credit card (a financial principle no-no in our house).

April 2015: We Finally Pay Off the Home Improvement Credit Card.

The 0% interest on the credit card was about to expire, so we used some emergency fund cash we had to pay off the balance (another financial principle broken).

May 2015: We Started Landscaping.

My husband did as much of the work himself, but for some of the more complicated projects we hired a landscaper. We did the standard three bid evaluation from potential landscapers. We picked the lowest bid and it turned out to be a huge mistake. Despite a professional looking pitch and attractive price, it turned out that the owner was in jail and they had never tackled anything beyond mowing and weed-wacking.   So we ended up letting them go and bringing another company to finish the job. We used the remainder of our emergency fund to cover this.

Sigh….so here we are. House poor, emergency fund gone, living paycheck to paycheck for the time being, and some financial principles broken. But no one is throwing a pity party around here, we just need to dig deep with our budgeting this summer and learn from our mistakes. On the bright side, we have a new house and yard to enjoy. And summer is the perfect time to enjoy free outdoor activities, staycations, and grilling meals at home.   There is a lot to be grateful for and with some effort we’ll bounce back our emergency fund soon.

Jessica is the owner of High Heels High Yields, a blog that provides investment and savings advice for women that’s witty and fun – think Bloomberg meets Bossypants! You can read more at High Heels High Yields or follow her on Facebook.

Sticking to your principles is tough when life gets complicated. Here are ways to reconcile your principles with the hard times via @shoeaholicnomore

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7 responses to “Sticking to Your Principles When the Going Gets Tough

  1. Great post! I love how real the situation is, and it demonstrates that personal finance really is the intersection of psychology and financial knowledge. I like your attitude and balanced perspective!

  2. I know exactly what you mean, and we are there as well. Now, we are making sound financial decisions, but we are still healing from poor decisions in our past.

  3. This is such a “real life” post, I just love it. That landscaping ordeal sounds like such a bummer so I hope you didn’t lose TOO much cash on it . :/ Don’t feel disheartened, you guys will bounce back on that emergency fund soon! 🙂

    Congratulations on the big purchase! I wish we could find THE HOUSE. It is so hard, especially because we’re set on a particular neighborhood. I would gladly live on pb&j for six months if we could find one. haha

    1. Thanks so much Allison! We too were set on a particular neighborhood and were fortunate to get into it with one of the more affordable houses – hence all the improvements. Best of luck finding your dream house and thanks for your support and optimism. We all need that from each other to stay motivated with our savings goals!

  4. Thanks for sharing! We all fall into this trap and it’s so awesome that you’re transparent about it. Last year I was soo motivated to be self employed I paid off my student loan like no tomorrow. After I paid it off I got lax and am now repaying credit card debt. Ugh. It’s all a great learning experience tho 🙂

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