My husband and I have had a long, twisty relationship with finances. We’ve gone from not really ever thinking about it, to filing for bankruptcy (more on that another time), to being OKAY. I remember the day I got a credit card in the mail, I don’t even remember applying for it, with a $10,200 credit limit… I was in my mid-twenties and thought I had scored the jackpot!
We really did try to be responsible with it, and then our puppy needed a double hip replacement. We didn’t think twice about doing it, taking him to the best vet in Northern California, and charging it to the card. He was our baby (still is).
I mean seriously… how could you not want to fix this cutie’s hips?
And then we decided to move from California to Utah, where my husband was from. We left our jobs, and without a future plan went gallivanting across I-80 in our moving van. We stayed with his sister and her husband for a while, then eventually moved into a rental house and (eventually) found jobs.
It was then that we started to feel the squeeze of all the bills coming in (oh I forgot to mention, we decided to move at a time that diesel and gas were at all time highs, and we had to make the trip back and forth TWICE to get everything). On top of it all we were planning our wedding, which is always super cheap, right? Thank goodness our family was GREAT in helping out with this. I’ve always paid my bills on time, which ended up being a detriment to us in the end because we were paying out way more than we were bringing in.
After the wedding when life calmed down a bit, I had the brilliant idea that to pull us out of debt we should buy a house! At the time they were giving $8,000 to first time home buyers,and that was going to solve a lot of our problems. Well of course, the house we could afford was a fixer-upper. Aaaand, there went our $8,000 dollars (but I love our kitchen so it’s a trade off, right).
Another year went by, and in the natural path of life we decided to have a baby. When finances came up it was one of those “well, if you’re always waiting for the right time it will never happen”. Luckily I had good insurance through my work so our out of pocket wasn’t too bad. I nursed for the majority of her first year, so we didn’t have to buy too much formula. I made her baby food, and she ended up deciding she didn’t really like food anyway… still doesn’t, so that was cheap. So I didn’t feel like we had too many baby expenses.
Somehow, though, it all just snowballed. And then a couple years later it became too much. I remember one day driving home from work, I needed gas. Credit cards were maxed out and we had used all our overdraft on our checking account. I got paid the next day and was hoping to make it home on fumes, but about halfway home it was apparent that was not realistic. I was literally searching for loose change in my car, and was mortified when I went inside to give the cashier my $1.30 for gas.
We were suffocated. I would get a panic attack every time I looked up our account balance online. In fact I stopped doing it, which I don’t really recommend. I tried one of those consolidation jobbers, which lowered our monthly payments by about $5. Yeah, that did a lot as you can imagine. So we took the plunge and decided to just start fresh.
After filing for the “Big B”, a huge weight was lifted off our shoulders. Ever since then we’ve been climbing our way out of the hole. A couple years later we had our second (and final I might add) baby, and have both moved on to better positions within our companies. It’s refreshing not having credit cards to fall back on, but it’s also scary not having credit cards to fall back on. The scary part is, even though we’re getting better, we still constantly find ourselves going into overdraft… it’s like the more you make, the more you spend.
There is so much online these days touting the “magic cure for debt”. I’m pretty sure there is no magic cure other than working hard at it. Stay tuned as I let you in on our financial journey out of the hole. I’m hoping that by posting how much I spend each week on the largest “controllable” variables in our budget (I’ll say it right now, Trader Joe’s and Target… seriously, Target gets worried about me if they don’t see me one week), it will hold me more accountable to keeping within our target (no pun intended).
I’d love to hear from you if you have any nuggets of wisdom, or just want to share your financial woes.