I spend a lot of time wondering what the 50-60’s were like.
When a family could survive off of one income.
Well, that’s what the movies show. What my grandparents seemed to have had. Hell, even my parents were able to survive off of 1 income until I was about 14 (that’s when my mom became a nurse and divorced my Dad… no wonder she got that job…).
Yet here I am, like so many other people my age, slaving away.
- Paying off student loan debt.
- Paying off credit card debt.
- Paying off car loans.
- Paying rent by myself after getting screwed by TOO MANY ROOM MATES (ugh. We’ll get to that on another post).
In fact… I have found hundreds, nay – THOUSANDS of groups, books/audiobooks, podcasts DEDICATED to being financially secure and debt free.
Trust me, I’ve actually gone on missions so seek them out, read them and join them.
The common theme I’m learning is that debt and finances are MORE taboo to discuss openly than sex, seriously.
People are so incredibly insecure and private about their financial health. They are prideful. They lie about it. They continue to dig themselves in to a hole and refuse to acknowledge that they are absolutely out of control.
Asking for help is frowned upon, but how do we actually conquer this catastrophic epidemic.
We all know that the majority of issues in relationships revolve around finances.
That doesn’t even have to be a marriage.
For example… Let’s get personal.
When I was 18 years old I bought my very first car. It was a 2006 Ford Ranger (edge). It was my pride and joy. I absolutely had to have it. Loved it. I could not believe I was paying $256/mo to drive this sexy 4.0L beast.
After 2 years of making payments my mom went to refinance her home and my car showed up as a “ding” on her credit.
When I purchased the truck, I had NO credit. My mom had actually put $1000 down for me to get into the truck and co-signed on the auto loan with the intention that I would pay for it for the duration of the loan.
My mom was going through a break-up and went to refinance the house to have some liquid cash to pay off the other owner. In doing so, she had to pay off the remaining debt owed on my truck, $10,000.
Great! I no longer had a car payment! Thanks, mom!
Except… now I owed my mom $10,000 instead of the bank.
That was 9 years ago.
How much have I paid my mom? Um… maybe $500?
I don’t even have that vehicle anymore.
Because as soon as I didn’t have to make payments to keep it – I destroyed it. I went off roading in it, ding/scratched it, a friend helped me move and shattered the back window of it… I never replaced the back window and it started growing MOLD.
I eventually had my license suspended and quit driving my truck. With out a job, I was forced to sell the truck to pay off my debt.
I received $5000 for my truck. I paid off the debt I had accumulated from unpaid tickets, court fees, and reinstating my license.
How much of that went toward paying my mom? $0.
It comes up frequently that I still owe her money and makes things super uncomfortable… I know I still owe her, but I’m just trying to survive.
I hope I eventually get into a position where I can pay her off and settle that debt.
The reason I share this example with you is because finances AFFECT YOUR RELATIONSHIPS. We give money SO MUCH POWER over our lives.
What if WE told money what to do. What if we made our money work FOR us.
What if money WAS NOT a source of stress.
Everyone offers a different piece of advice.
One of the most challenging things I hear when I talk about finances and what frustrates me about mine is hearing, “Debt is just apart of life, Jackie. Get over it. You don’t even have that much debt. So many people have it worse than you.”
Let’s break this comment down.
- Debt DOES NOT HAVE TO BE APART OF LIFE. It is a CHOICE.
- I REFUSE to get over it. It makes me uncomfortable — and that is a GOOD THING.
- Just because my debt does not exceed yours does not mean I don’t look at it with wide eyes.
- I don’t give a flying eff if people have it worse than I do because they were irresponsible with their spending.
How did I get into debt?
When I was 19 years old I lost my job as a loan car concierge for Toyota. It was 1 week before Christmas. I had just applied for 2 credit cards prior to losing my job and had every intention on being responsible with them.
After losing my job, I still wanted to do things, so I kept doing them. The only difference was I didn’t have the money to pay back to the credit cards. My credit limit on each card was only $250. Turns out, $250 can turn into $6000 if you don’t pay. Amazing how interest compounds, isn’t it?
Before I knew it – I was in debt, trashed my credit score, couldn’t buy a car, couldn’t even lease an apartment without a co-signer/room-mate.
What did I do? I ignored it. For YEARS. Because when $250 turns into $3000 it seems WRONG. Your pride gets in the way.
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN!?
IF I PRETEND IT’S NOT THERE, IT’LL JUST GO AWAY.
Eventually those derogatory remarks fell off of my credit score and I was able to rent an apartment, with a room-mate. I wanted to get my credit back into “worthy” shape. The goal was to attempt to boost it from the 400-500 score I had, up to at least 700.
So what did I do?
I got another credit card.
The stress, anxiety, and fear I had surrounding this idea is indescribable. The $7.95 I had spent that morning on my breakfast at Starbucks actually kept me awake at night.
I was terrified of repeating my past mistakes. I wanted to rebuild my credit, I knew this was the easiest way for me to do it, but it still scared the shit out of me.
Thankfully I was smart. I paid it off after every single purchase. I managed it well. I felt in control of my finances and learned how to function responsibly with my credit card.
Then, I went on vacation and kinda said, “screw it! I’m on vacay! Let’s party!”
That’s how I ended up with a $2,500 balance on my credit card.
Then guess what happened.
I had to move unexpectedly. That’s right. After being financially irresponsible, I had to move and spend MORE money on my credit card.
Thankfully I was moving somewhere that was more affordable, the cost of living was significantly less. Moving in with a boyfriend who made SUBSTANTIALLY more money than me helped me pay off that debt.
Then…. I broke up with him.
Then… I had to move, again.
Damnit, that jerk had thrown away almost all my stuff! Now I have to buy everything again, and obviously I must have it all right now. Otherwise, HOW WILL I SURVIVE!?
Great, so now that $0.00 balance was back up to $2,000.
Guess what happened then?
My car started to crap out on me.
Time to buy a new car.
Oh hey girl, you just got your limit extended, you have more money!
$2,000 cash + $3,000 credit card = down payment for your new car
So now I had to figure out how to pay down my credit card AND afford more expenses that came with renting an apartment by myself.
So here’s what I learned.
- Life is unpredictable
- Save your money, use cash, it’s less stressful
- You don’t have to have everything you want
- If you pay for things in cash, you’ll appreciate them more
- Create a budget
- Paying down debt effing suck
Now I’m juggling paying down 2 credit cards (because obviously I had to finance that shiny new Macbook air). Paying $1257/mo rent, utilities, cable/internet/car payment/insurance/food/pets/etc.
Life is freaking EXPENSIVE when you’re doing it by yourself.
That’s how I ended up with 4 jobs.
Because instead of giving up and pretending it would just go away.
I learned to persevere and be responsible.
So, now that you know my story. Now that I’ve opened up a door to you that shines a light on the ever taboo subject of debt and the irresponsible way we get there. What will you do?
Are you living in the same revolving door of spontaneous purchases? Impulsive purchases? Because “I can afford it” — which actually is your way of convincing yourself you can because you have a credit card?
- My goal this year is to be credit card debt free.
- My goal by the end of next year, is to be student loan debt free.
- And my goal by the end of 2019 is to have my car completely paid off.
I believe in setting financial goals.
Setting “financial goals” does not necessarily mean paying down debt. But I do believe it means making your money work for you. To make your money work for you, you have to get to place where when you open up your bank account you don’t go, “WTF!? Where did all my money go!” Only to find out it went to: Starbucks, Target, that new nail polish at Ulta, etc.
Let’s dig ourselves out of this financial hole.
No one taught us how to be financially responsible. It’s not some kind of class we took in high school. It’s actually a skill you have to practice and develop. Get COMFORTABLE with it. Love your money. Work hard for your money. Make your money work for you.
Until next time.
xo – Jack