If I had to look back on the past year and give thoughts on my life, it would be this: I'm embarrassed.
Actually, it's more than that.
In the last year, my husband and I have suffered incredible financial setbacks. What began as him leaving a job where his paychecks were bouncing, to starting his own company during an incredibly difficult economy, was topped off with me losing my job—and the only steady income and security we had—nearly a year later.
While nothing will put you to the test like losing more than half your income, nothing will leave you more embarrassed—mortified even—to cut back on everything in your life only to discover that you've been an incredibly wasteful person.
Before our financial strain began, we already determined that we needed to be good stewards of our money—to use it more wisely and pay off any debt we'd accumulated. While we started on that goal—and saw success—we never fully adopted the mantra that less was more. We'd become ungrateful for what we were given. An ungratefulness that was embarrassing to measure as it displayed itself so boldly before us.
The raw truth is that we were spoiled—giving little thought to where our money went or how we might better use it.
Our wastefulness was born slowly over the course of many years and completely unrecognized. We weren't spending extravagantly. We didn't have large toys sitting in our driveway or photos of luxurious vacations dotting our mantle. Our negligence was in small choices made consistently over time. We used our excess income as opportunities to pamper our lives, to treat ourselves. It's amazing how expensive these "small expenses" seemed once we didn't have the excess money to spend on them.1