“The hardest decision was to live DIFFERENTLY than everyone else.”

That’s a quote from an email I got over the weekend that I can’t seem to get out of my head.

First I agreed 100% and was like “Preach on, brotha! Great one!” Then I thought that most of my friends I have now DO live the same way as me, so it’s not all *that* accurate really… And then I doubled back and again thought, “You know what? My old friends are the ones who sucked with money, not my current ones. I’m just hanging out with the smart ones these days!” Haha…

If you caught all that, I’m pretty much agreeing that yes – you do have to live differently than everyone else to reach your financial goals :) Or at least most of them.

The 18 y/o me didn’t really get that, nor did the 25 year old me, but now the 33 y/o version’s got it down pat. As well as the people he know associates and hangs out with. No more crazies sucking away both my energy and vision!!

I once had a “best friend” mock me and tell me I was a loser for getting up and moving to NYC so I can explore and chase my dream of being a graphic designer. She told me there wasn’t a point because I was going to fail and waste all my money (which both DID end up happening btw, though I had a helluva time doing it!), and that I should just “stay home” like everyone else she knew and not bother. Because everyone she hung out with were stuck and barely had any motivation to do anything substantial. Still pisses me off to this day… Little did she know I was traveling the world on a dime and partying like a rock star! Haha… I only failed in the “designer” department – certainly not the adventure one ;)

Anywho, making the conscious decision to do the best for YOU and YOUR FINANCES over others is a pretty important concept to grasp. Even if it goes against your friends/familys’ habits or lifestyle. That’s not to say you can’t splurge or slip up every now and then – you most definitely (and should!) do that – but overall you gotta be watching out for #1 cuz only #1 cares that much. And there’s nothing wrong with being frugal and sexy anyways,  right? ;)

Here’s the rest of that email I got over the weekend… Pretty motivational stuff:

My wife and I have been living well and on a budget since 2006.  I think I have always had it in me, but the hardest decision was to live DIFFERENTLY than everyone else.

Since 2006, my wife and I have accomplished:

  • Getting rid of my $75,000 in student loans (sold our home at the peak of the market)
  • Paid for her Masters in Education – $21,000
  • Saved enough for her degree ($12,500, 50% is paid for by her school)
  • Paid off all of our credit cards ($36,000)
  • Actually put some money away for retirement ($65,000)
  • Paid off extra on our house (we now have $65,000 more than we would have)
  • We have a reasonable emergency fund, checking, and savings.

Crazy what a little sacrifice, hard work, and listening to people like you will do. FYI, we rented out two levels of our home, and I took a second hobby/job that pays me decently each month if you’re wondering how we did ALL of that.)  We now only rent out the MIL.  We also sold off our second expensive car, moved to a location where we are only blocks from work…etc..etc..etc.

Anyways, it’s people like you that are helping people like me.  Inspiring to say the least, because it lets us know OTHER PEOPLE ARE KICKING ASS being frugal and budgeting properly.

So the next time someone’s tempting you to offload some of that money that you don’t want to do, just remember – BE DIFFERENT! Different is sexy!

Photo by katerha

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  1. Aimee September 10, 2013 at 6:48 AM

    Great job reader!!

    People get wrapped up in the American Dream as it is defined by everyone and forget that the American Dream is actually FREEDOM and HAPPINESS. We have the freedom to define what happiness means to each of us individually, but there is a mold that America tries to fit everyone in to. That mold is made out of debt and consumerism. I hope that everyone can climb over the walls of that mold and start building their own.

    1. J. Money September 11, 2013 at 1:07 PM

      That sounds like a poem! Haha… great use of words over there :)

  2. Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies September 10, 2013 at 6:58 AM

    “We now only rent out the MIL.”

    What? You rent out your mother in law? I can’t possibly be reading this correctly… =)

    1. Kristen September 10, 2013 at 9:43 AM

      That is exactly what I thought. I’d love to make money renting out my mother-in-law. Where do I sign up? (just teasin’ “Grandma Millie”)

    2. moneystepper.com September 10, 2013 at 10:34 AM

      I’ve always read budgetsaresexy for its innovation, but this might be going a little too far!

      That said, its help this reader save $300k, so there may be method in the madness…

      1. a terrible husband... September 10, 2013 at 11:18 AM

        Haha! I hope the reader meant they rent out the in law suite! I have two mothers in law that are really great! Double the income?

        1. J. Money September 11, 2013 at 1:09 PM

          I honestly don’t know exactly what he was referring to either with MIL, outside of what you guys are guessing :) If it’s pushing their dreams along swiftly though, more power to them!

          1. Crystal September 12, 2013 at 4:20 PM

            I assumed he meant the MIL suite – like the extra room for the MIL when she moves in. But renting out his MIL would be even better, lol. No wear and tear on the house. ;-)

  3. jestjack September 10, 2013 at 7:10 AM

    Could this be …”the road less traveled”….I read about so long ago?

  4. Kevin September 10, 2013 at 7:11 AM

    Awesome post on all fronts. It truly is sources like B.a.$. that keep me motivated over the long haul. It’s hard to see friends, family, and co-workers riding around in shiny new wheels while my wifey and I try to keep our old clunkers moving. Or to see “everyone else” hitting the beach 4-5 times per summer (we could too if we weren’t slamming down extra cash on the mortgage) when we can only afford one measly trip. But it’s okay, one day it will have all been worth it! Thanks guys!

    1. J. Money September 11, 2013 at 1:10 PM

      You’re rockin’ it man, keep on going!! And keep reading the blog too! :) It’s you all that help ME to keep writing every day. Without ya I’d have shut ‘er down years ago.

  5. Paul September 10, 2013 at 7:34 AM

    I didn’t really get it until I was 45! I was half doing some financially responsible stuff. When I joined the Air Force at 23, I paid off my student loans and invested a little. I was doing OK, without any real debt until I got married. In the Dave Ramsey parlance, my wife is a “Free Spirit”, i.e. she freely spends money, sometimes on questionable “stuff”. It was actually her suggestion of a Dave Ramsey class that really got us going. She still likes to spend and has gotten us into some not-so-frugal situations which added to our debt. I also retired from the military and moved twice, racking up “moving debt”. At its worst, we had over $40K in credit card debt in April, 2012. Now it’s under $13K. My new company forces me to contribute 5% of my pay to a 403b, but matches that with 10%! I expect to retire the credit card debt next year, put together a decent emergency fund, and increase the investments over the next two years, then start working on the mortgages on our two houses, one of which we rent, but the rent does not quite cover the mortgage, insurance, and taxes. Hopefully the rental market in that area improves enough over the next few years so that we can actually realize income from the rental property.

    Still working Baby Step 2 ;)

    1. J. Money September 11, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      Looks like you guys are on a smart path now though, that’s awesome. And we appreciate your time in the military too! It’s because of you and your cohorts we can even be *thinking* of this stuff without worrying for our lives. So keep your head high, my brotha. You guys are wonderful :)

  6. Travis @Debtchronicles September 10, 2013 at 7:55 AM

    YES! I’m going to consciously do things differently than others today….because I’m a SEXY BEAST! LOL.

    1. J. Money September 11, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      Is the “sexy beast” different today, or your things you’re doing? ;)

  7. SB September 10, 2013 at 8:08 AM

    This post hits home. I constantly wonder how the people I surround myself with do what they do with their money. Most of them have huge student loans and are renting (while I’m lucky to not have student loans and own my house) and yet they go out to eat every day, go to happy hours and buy new clothes constantly. I just have to remind myself, they’re probably not saving for retirement, and although it may seem like they’re able to pull off that lifestyle, it will catch up to them in the end. So I keep my nose down, pack my lunch everyday and try to ignore the Jones’!

  8. Brian September 10, 2013 at 8:24 AM

    Light blub went off over my head for my money @ age 40. So wish it did at age 25, but there is no looking back now. I will offer help to anyone willing to listen, but if they are not I won’t let them slow me down.

  9. Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce September 10, 2013 at 9:03 AM

    It’s true. There is so much inertia (either on TV or with our peers) to do the same things…get into debt and spend like there is no tomorrow. Kudos for being different! I’ll remember that quote.

    1. J. Money September 11, 2013 at 1:18 PM

      That IS awesome! Thanks so much for sharing that – gonna include in my next roundup here :)

  10. Debt Blag September 10, 2013 at 9:22 AM

    This is so true. I think one of the things I’m starting to realize more and more is that the secret to doing well isn’t just to find deals and tinker around the edges; it’s to live differently. Thanks for this.

  11. Cat @ Budget Blonde September 10, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    Different IS sexy – Yes indeed. I totally agree with you. That’s actually a really great e-mail, and I love hearing about how people are rocking it out!

  12. John S @ Frugal Rules September 10, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    Awesome work reader! It took me time to finally “get” it with money, but am so thankful I did. I could not agree more though, you have to do what works best for you and what will get you closer to what you want and not follow what someone else may have planned for you.

  13. Slackerjo September 10, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    I have always marched to the beat of another drummer and I can tell you it can be a bit lonely. Unfortunately I had been ridiculed and berated by friends and family (sadly more family than friends) for trying something different.
    One of the best things about the internet (besides wasting hours watching silly pet videos) is that nobody has to feel isolated for living differently because there is a community of people out there just like you!

    1. J. Money September 11, 2013 at 1:34 PM

      THIS IS TRUE!! And we embrace rock stars like you with open arms too :) There’s lots of love to be found on the internet if you can wade through all the junk there, haha…

  14. dojo September 10, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    Wonderful story and example.

    We’re also a bit ‘weird’ to many of our relatives/friends. We don’t over-spend and were pretty clear with our goals. I was able to pay off my car and we’re both debt free now. We’re seen as the ‘weirdos’ who don’t buy this and that, but being careful with our expenses has really helped us in other areas: we were able to travel (and do it a lot) and also invest in our business. Which means we’re doing OK, we’re saving and have little worries about money. Sure, not everybody thought we’re ‘cool’ for living like this, but at the end of the day we’re who really matters.

  15. Romona @Monasez September 10, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    Living frugally is definitely a lifestyle that not everyone understands. I’ve been making a lot of lifestyle changes that are saving my pockets and the people around me like my family don’t understand.Unfortunately I was raised by people who would make sure they had a new outfit or fancy car before paying off debt. Now that I’m older n getting more into finance, I’m learning on my own how to properly manage money but blogs such as your have helped me as well.

    1. J. Money September 11, 2013 at 1:40 PM

      Keep on going strong, my friend :)

  16. B Ririe @ The Wealth Gospel September 10, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    Love it! “Friends” always seem to think they’ve got your best in mind when they tell you how to live your life.

  17. Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions September 10, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    Yes! It takes courage to make that first leap, but once you do it’s great to see all the different ways you can relate to the world and the people who love you and support you. I’ve found that my family understands and doesn’t pressure us to go out to eat or buy fancy presents, and we have had a lot of fun together without spending money.

  18. Emmy September 10, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    I really needed to hear that today. Some major life changes will be happening for me the next few months – and I’m slightly terrified. But I needed that reminder: it’s okay to live differently than everyone else. In fact – it’ll be awesome!

    1. J. Money September 11, 2013 at 1:38 PM

      Not only will “it” be awesome, but YOU are awesome, my friend!! You radiate love, and it’s my favorite thing about you :) I don’t know what your big changes are coming your way, but I have no doubt you will be fine afterwards. You’re a fighter!

  19. Dear Debt September 10, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    Yes, difference is sexy! To accomplish anything great in life, you need to be different. Celebrate your uniqueness. Most of my peers are just paying the minimum on their student loans and will wait for them to be “forgiven” after 30 years–I am deciding not to do that, even though it’s not fun, not glamorous and unpopular to some people. But I am having fun and getting rid of those suckers!

    1. J. Money September 11, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      “To accomplish anything great in life, you need to be different” – TRUTH

  20. Wunderwriter September 10, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    Super motivational! I’m down to the last two credit card bills, both at 0%, and I find myself rationalizing that I don’t need to accelerate paying them off because the balance is not accruing interest, but the reality is this: I want to get out of credit card debt!

    Thanks for the poke…I’m going to make a payoff plan and get rid of those balances before the rates burp up next summer :-)

    1. J. Money September 11, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. No Waste September 10, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    I’m stealing this from Ramsey but:

    “Live like no one else now, so that you can live like no one else later.

  22. stephanie September 10, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Oh yes, different is sexy! I am in my mid-50’s so I think I’m gramma-age to all you young ones reading here. My #1 thought is: damn straight! I’m not going to spend time regretting what I didn’t do all those years ago. I am going to do the best I can with what I have now, and be successful.
    Unique, different, call it what you will. This is one of the absolute best emails I’ve read in a long long time. My cc debt is within pay-off reach in the next couple of months. I have a (tiny) bit in savings (that from someone who literally couldn’t rub 2 nickels together for quite some time). I’m into my 403b with a 3% match and an unheard of archaic plan called a pension. Not much, but it all comes together to help.
    Thanks J$$$ for sexy, smart and different!!! Thanks for posting this one.
    PS-my darling daughter just left NYC after 7 successful years. She left a tiny rural town out West (unnamed or she’d kill me if anyone recognizes this). She is now in Raleigh-Durham, where her company just moved her to a new and exciting position. Out of nowhere I watched my 17 year old make her life plan, and execute. Am I proud? Yes. Did she learn it from me? No, but then again, maybe she saw all my mistakes and learned from those. I say more power to ya for having gone to NYC and “failed”. I’d look at that and say you were a resounding success for having had the cojones to do it. You continue to amaze!

    1. J. Money September 11, 2013 at 1:47 PM

      Thanks so much Stephanie! And congrats on your recent successes! It’s awesome reading about new people and goals here :) I’m proud of your daughter too – Raleigh-Durham is a great area! Came close to moving there myself this year, I bet she loves it.

      Keep on reaching for those goals! You can do it!!

  23. Emily @ evolvingPF September 10, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    I don’t think we’re living very differently from our peers – most of whom I know are making the same amount of money as us because they are also PhD students. Does that mean I’m sucking with money or I have a great peer group?? Or maybe we’re not observing them closely enough to see the differences.

  24. Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen September 10, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    Those are some big goals that ready has accomplished! It’s amazing! Haha my husband and I are trying our best to live differently. The hardest part is saying no to going out when yuo do want to but would like to save the money instead!

  25. Jacob | iHeartBudgets September 10, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    Different is sexy. I mean, that applies everywhere, not just money and lifestyle. Good call. Also, props to the reader who is ROCKING THAT BUDGET HARD and reaping the benefits of a little discipline. I try to convince people that budgets are fun, ALL. THE. TIME, but showing cold, hard numbers works well!

  26. Micro September 10, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    It will be interesting in a year when my one friend finishes his degree. Right now when I visit, we always go for cheap entertainment because he had to save money for school. I’m hoping I can coax him to maintain that trend so I can go visit without worrying about racking up a lot of bills on the trip.

    1. J. Money September 11, 2013 at 1:48 PM

      That will be interesting indeed! Maybe he’ll have lots of school loans so you’ll be safe for a while? Haha…

  27. Kurt @ Money Counselor September 10, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    Yes–if you do like most everyone else seems to be doing, you’ll likely end up like them: broke, in debt, and on track to work full time until death! Be different, you’ll fascinate people!

  28. Donna Freedman September 10, 2013 at 10:33 PM

    Among the things I called for in my talk at the 2010 Financial Blogger Conference was “a refusal to be ordinary.”
    “Most of the WORLD is ordinary,” I said. “Be honest: Doesn’t most of the world bore the piss out of you???”
    I think that applies here, too. Living like everyone else means you’re ordinary.
    Here’s what I think: You should direct your own footfalls vs. marching in lockstep. That person who tried to keep you down was one of those “misery loves company” folks — if you’d gone out and succeeded, then what would that have done to her worldview?
    (“Hmmm….Some guy I know, a guy not unlike me and the rest of my ‘stuck’ pals, got himself un-stuck. So what does that mean about the condition of stuck-ness? That I could try to get myself unstuck. But I’m afraaaaaiiiiiiidddddd….And it’s so COZY here in the bubble with the other naysayers!”)
    As the late Col. Norman Vaughan put it: “Dream big, and dare to fail.” And, I would add, dare to dream big again.

    1. J. Money September 11, 2013 at 1:50 PM

      I miss you :) And better be seeing you THIS year at Fincon! No staying out later than me like you like to do…

  29. Stephanie@Mrs.Debtfighter September 11, 2013 at 7:20 AM

    We have been different for about seven years now since we decided I would stay home with our kids. I think the desire to have everything paid off is rubbing off our friends. It seems they are always a little shocked that we don’t owe on anything but our mortgage, living on one income. I wish we would have known what we know now when there were two incomes rolling in! :)

  30. Marissa@Financetriggers September 11, 2013 at 9:53 PM

    Inspiring post! That was one awesome letter from your reader. Things like that indeed can be great motivators. And I can’t agree more, while being different can be hard most of the time (if not all the time), it’s not really a bad thing. It’s just a matter of being focused and determined in achieving your goals. Eyes on the prize.

  31. Geof White (Author, Lemonade Stand Economics) September 12, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    So many people in our lives want us to fail. Maybe it makes them feel better but I’m not going to stick around to find out why! Great article. Different is not only sexy, it’s also liberating and once you taste “living differently” you will never go back!

  32. Crystal September 12, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    Okay, so this is going to sound weird. I totally believe in living like you choose, even if that isn’t the norm. But I am a personal finance blogger. The “norm” in my world now is frugality…plus it seems that a ton of pf bloggers are going hardcore minimalist. I am not frugal or minimalistic. My living “outside the norm” is the fact that we did just buy our own McMansion of sorts last year so we’d have buttloads of entertaining space. So technically, we live like the “norm” stereotypically wants to live.

    Two people without kids don’t need 5 bedrooms, 4 full baths, and like 4 other kinds of rooms (media, game, library, and dining) to go along with a kitchen and living area. But we actually like that lifestyle (potlucks once a month, 2-3 movie nights a month in the media room, Friday night dinners with friends in our kitchen, having friends as roommates sometimes, etc.).

    But we still make sure to save for our future and only have this one mortgage debt left. Overall, the trick is figuring out how you want to live, how you can afford to live, and just balance the two without ever really thinking about anyone else’s opinion at all. :-D

    1. J. Money September 16, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      Yes! Love it!! That last sentence there is KEY. I’m going to go tweet it now, haha…

  33. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer September 14, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    WOW, did I need this today! We’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed and “loser-ish” about our debt, and about climbing the long, hard road to get out of it. We’ve got a three-way split in our lives of people who: think we’re nuts like your supposed BF did/think we’re losers for getting into debt in the first place/support us full-board. The 66% has been winning the battle in our minds this week, but NO MORE! Different is indeed sexy!

    1. J. Money September 16, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      Keep working it!! You can do it!!

  34. Mrs. Frugalista September 15, 2013 at 8:07 AM

    We paid off our mortgage in April of 2013 and I gotta tell you, that was the best decision we made. A month later, my hubby lost his job but we did not have to worry because we can pay our bills and save a decent amount of money every month with my income. ‘Til this day, our family and friends think we are rolling in money, but it is simple, we lived differently than any of them and now we can enjoy some luxuries without breaking the bank.

    1. J. Money September 16, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      Awesome! They should all start reading our blogs ;)

  35. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life September 17, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    How awesome to be an inspiration to someone who’s already been so successful tackling their debt and achieving their financial goals. While I’m still the “cheapskate” with the people I know in life, I feel endlessly invigorated by the posts I read everyday from like-minded bloggers.

    1. J. Money September 17, 2013 at 6:37 PM

      Yay!!! :)