The past several posts have drummed up a lot of different emotions. One of the emotions that has been the hardest to deal with during this whole process is guilt. I think one of the things that prevented me from listening to Tim when he first started talking about these things is the guilt over my past. It was MY credit card that had the bigger balance. It was MY school loan that was so huge it seemed insurmountable. It was MY bad decisions that had led to huge legal fees. What's funny, is that it was that same guilt that finally motivated me to get started too. I needed to buckle down and prove that I could make a real contribution to the household - whether through frugal savings or consulting income. I just needed to do some thing.
As we got moving along, a new sense of guilt set in. I actually felt guilty that things were working for us. It was especially hard with the economy crumbling around us. I started to feel guilty about the fact that we weren't experiencing the same difficulties that so many Americans were going through. How twisted is that? We actually had people tell us how LUCKY we were that we had good jobs and a good income. Tim and I went round and round about this one. He doesn't exactly believe in luck. He reminded me that we both went through a lot to get to where we are. We weren't just handed good jobs. Tim worked a job he didn't really like for 10 years because he needed the experience (and a pay check). I worked my fair share of crap jobs too. More recently I went through almost 2 years of legal hell just so that I could work from home. Things weren't easy for either of us.
Were we a little lucky in the timing of every thing? Possibly. But I think part of Tim's point is that we also created our own luck. We did what we had to do to get to where we are. Tim's making a good salary now, but he had taken a pay cut just so we could move back to the area. And when we got here, he didn't just sit by and let life happen. He was aggressively pursuing better opportunities. Working hard to move up in the world and improve his life (and the life of his new family). Had he not done that, we'd probably be in the same position as many other people right now. The same applies to me to a lesser extent. If I had continued in my previous job doing what was easy, I'd be out on the street right now too. The choice if I was going to be a stay at home mom would have been made for me.
So, why do I feel so guilty about our success? I think part of it is the way our society works. The other part is just part of my personality (and the way I was raised). I have to remind myself that there are a lot of people out there that make more than we do and STILL can't pay their debt. We're not debt free because we're lucky. We're not even debt free because we made a good income last year. We're debt free because we changed our behavior. We shouldn't feel guilty for taking responsibility for our actions and changing our lives, right?! It sounds right on paper. I just need to figure out how to convince myself of that too.