I’m sure this will come as a shock to many of you.
I bought a bottle of Dom Perignon on a whim.
You read that correctly – I purchased a $150 bottle of champagne without planning it in my budget. But before you start throwing spears and calling me a hypocrite, let me explain. The bottle of Dom goes back a long way and has a pretty significant story.
If any of you have followed my blog since the beginning, you will understand my family history. My debt free journey began with watching my Cuban grandmother balancing her checkbook and thinking of all the sacrifices that had been made by her and my grandfather over the years. It was then that I realized that I was wasting the opportunity that had been handed to me by keeping myself deep in debt.
I had listened to my grandparents many times wax on about their life in Cuba – and cursing out the Castro regime. All the agony and pain suffered at the hands of a cruel dictator that eventually led to my grandparents, my aunt and my mom fleeing Cuba in March 1962 to the United States. There had been premature hope that the Castro revolution would be short lived and that my family would be able to return. But as years passed on, the hope began to dwindle and the realization of the old Cuba being lost forever set in.
My grandfather kept a bottle of Dom Perignon in the house for as long as I can remember. He had always told me that the bottle was being kept in reserve for the day that Castro died – a celebration of sorts that the regime had come to an end. But as years passed by – much like the years of hope that a return to Cuba would have been possible – the cork in that bottle of Dom rotted out and the champagne went flat. And sadly, my grandfather passed away in January 2015, never being able to celebrate the demise of a tyrant.
When I first heard news that Fidel Castro has passed away, my first reaction came in the form of tears. Not sadness for his death. Sadness for the thousands of Cuban exiles that didn’t live to see this day happen – including my grandfather. My grandfather was adamant that he would outlive Castro but it was not meant to be.
So on that Saturday upon hearing the news, I ventured to the liquor store to replace that bottle of Dom Perignon. I had never spent that much on one bottle of alcohol in my life. Who knew that they kept the expensive stuff behind locked doors? My mom, my dad, one of my sisters and my grandmother paid a visit to my grandfather’s grave at the cemetery that afternoon, poured several glasses of bubbly and toasted my grandfather and all of those other Cubans who had gone before him. It was quite an emotional day.
So what does this story have to do with personal finance?
When people think of budgeting, the words that often come to mind are “restraint”, “cutting costs” and “restriction”. What budgeting really means is that YOU get to decide how to spend your money in a purposeful manner. You get to decide what is important and how you want to spend your money. And when you become debt free, you set yourself up to be able to capture experiences that debt would have previously prohibited. You get to be in charge of your spending and earmark savings for those times when once-in-a-lifetime events happened. In fact, not having a budget and drowning in debt payments should conjure up the terms “restraint” and “restriction” because of the effect those behaviors have on your life.
Had I not been intentional and purposeful about paying off my debt and sticking to a budget all these years, there is no way I could have afforded this gift to my family. Well, I would have thought I would have been able to afford it but it would have been purchased with a credit card and ended up costing me $300 with all the interest. Instead, I was able to walk into the store, make the purchase and not have the payment follow me for years. I was able to truly celebrate with my family without feeling worry or anxiety hanging over me. And best of all, I was able to honor the wishes of my late grandfather without sacrificing my financial principles. I know he is looking down on me with happiness.
Rest In Peace, Abuelo.