It’s three concerts in five days. And yes, when this concert run is over, it will mean that I have attended 32 Elton John concerts since 1992.
Since that first concert, my dream has been to meet Elton John in person. Everyone should have a dream and this one happens to be mine. I need to GO to the concerts in order to have the opportunity, the chance to make this dream come true. Going to the concerts costs money. Money I didn’t always have to spend.
Yes, I spend ALOT of years financing my dream – tickets, hotel, travel expenses all “paid for” with help from my “friends” Discover, Visa and Mastercard. That didn’t work out so well. Oh sure, the trips and the concerts were AWESOME, but by 2007, the bottom fell out of my dream a little bit.
In 2007, I had the opportunity to attend Elton’s 60th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden. It was also his 60th concert at MSG. This concert was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I couldn’t go because I didn’t have the money. “What do you mean you don’t have the money?”, people asked me. “You need to go! You are such a huge fan!”
Yes, I needed to go. But years of bad money habits were finally catching up to me and I simply could not afford to stretch credit card limits anymore. To this day, it makes me sad and angry that I could not go. That experience led me to make the decision to NEVER be in that position again. The logical solution to the problem was to go out and make MORE money, which I did. I was a stay at home mom and decided to start my own business with a Direct Sales Company.
I DID make more money but that didn’t solve the problem.
If you can’t manage the money you have well, making MORE money only gives you MORE money to mismanage.
By the end of 2009, we hit our financial “rock bottom”. I found myself putting Christmas on credit. And, not just one credit card but several. No, not because we were going overboard with the gifts. Because we were stretched so thin on almost maxed out credit cards that I had to put a little on one, a little on another and a little on another.
Our boys were five and four at the time and I had gotten so sucked into the commercialization of Christmas. As a Cristian, it bothered me that I had totally lost the true meaning of the Holiday. It bothered me enough that I decided our New Year’s Resolution was going to be to
“get better with money”
On January 1, 2010 I started the home study course of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU). My husband would eventually get on board with the program too (that’s another blog post!) He was supportive of “fixing the problem” but a bit skeptical of the program.
It wasn’t until I started FPU and completed the debt snowball that I discovered we were $43, 544 in debt. That was NOT including the mortgage!
So our financial situation was this:
living paycheck to paycheck
no money in savings
no plan for our financial future
6 credit cards, 2 vehicle loans and my student loan totaling over $40K.
ONE income because by this time I had given up on my Direct Sales career.
It was overwhelming.
But I knew that something had to change. I also knew I needed a reason to “get better with money”. I needed something strong and compelling that would remind me to persevere and not give up.
I needed a “WHY”
“Hi, my name is Melissa and I became debt free so I could have money to pursue my dream of meeting Elton John”.
As you can tell by reading that statement, we DID pay off over $43K of debt. It took just under four years to do it.
How did we do that? In the simplest of terms, we created a budget and followed it. We worked really, really hard to change bad habits with money and create new ones. We gave up doing a lot of things that cost money. The ONE thing I wasn’t willing to give up was seeing Elton in concert. Because, if I don’t GO to the concerts, I might miss an opportunity to meet him. Pursuing a dream is all about taking advantage of an opportunity.
In the 3 years, 8 months and 27 days it took us to become debt free, I saw Elton John five times in concert! Each time, I didn’t know if I could go until about a week prior. Somehow, the money always seemed to be there for me to go and yes, I paid CASH for each one of those trips!
Since becoming and staying debt free, I’ve been to seven Elton John concerts. My most favorite “because I’m debt free” experience being the trip to NYC on New Year’s Eve 2014. I had the money to purchase a backstage pass where I not only got to meet every member of the Elton John band BUT had the opportunity to sit at Elton John’s piano! The SAME one he played at the concert that evening!
This time, I did NOT miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity!
Pursuing a dream takes time and patience and money. I can’t help you with the first two, but I can help you with the third.
5 Tips to Debt Free Life:
Realize when you have hit rock bottom
If you find yourself saying “I wish I could _____” more often that you are actually DOING what you want, you may be at a rock bottom. Other common phrases include:
“I don’t have money”
“It’s too expensive”
“I can’t afford it”
Know your WHY
What is your dream or passion? What do you love to do?
Your “why” has to be strong enough to help you use that as leverage to change your habits.
Understand the Situation
In order to fix the problem, you need to understand the entire financial situation. You need facts and figures.
A good place to start is your credit card or bank statement. Make a list of income, outgo and other expenses ( i.e. debts).
Write it out with pencil on paper.
Create a Plan
The plan is the budget. The plan is the debt snowball.
You can access forms for FREE on my website by clicking HERE
The plan is completed in pencil, on paper.
Set Your Goal(s)
Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly. Using pencil and paper, make a list and set some goals. Your list should reflect spending and saving goals as well as goals to pay off debt. Goals need to be achievable but not too easy or you will not change your habits. You need a goal that causes you go outside your comfort zone and change your habits.
Bonus Tip: This or That
Every time you go to spend money, ask yourself
“Do I want this (your purchase) or that (your goal)?”
What is your dream? There are so many things that stand in between you and your dream. MONEY doesn’t have to be one of those things.
I’ll be attending the Elton John concerts in
Roanoke and Charlottesville, VA (#30, 31) and Youngstown, OH (#32)
I’ll drive to the VA concerts and fly to Ohio.
The entire trip (tickets, hotel, travel, etc.) will be paid for in CASH.
I look forward to meeting up with friends and making new friends. If you are going to any of these concerts, I look forward to meeting you too!
I look forward to opportunities – maybe even the opportunity to meet Elton John in person and have my dream come true!
Does MONEY stand in the way of you and your dream?
How can I help you change that?