Meeting Old Blue, Part 1


Whew. 

I took in a deep breath and slowly let it out. My fingers clenched the steering wheel as I successfully held back tears. 

Something about being on the cusp of changing your life is all encompassing. 

I came to a rolling stop and turned left into the used car lot, parked, walked inside and nervously fiddled with my phone while I waited for Alan to arrive.

He walked in the lobby of the sales center about five minutes later and a rush of calm came over me. 

A salesman, whom Alan had spoken to earlier that morning, approached us and the process began. 

Here we were selling our 2011 fully loaded Nissan Altima 3.5 SR. The one we financed new for $23,000 because we couldn’t afford to fix the transmission in Alan’s used Jetta. But, we could pay Nissan’s $353 monthly car note. (Yes, I now realize how ridiculous this sounds.) 

The car was more of a stressor than a blessing. We were bound to that monthly payment and held hostage to being able to do anything else with that money…including paying off other debt.

More than we needed the Nissan’s beautiful navy exterior and tan heated leather seats and sunroof and spoiler and navigation and Bose surround sound and XM radio…we needed to be able to breathe again. 

We sold the Nissan to Donoho Auto for $10,000 that day. As a result, we began our family journey down a new road. One we had never been down before. We made a drastic change, drew a hard line and said, “We are NEVER living like this again.” 

As Alan and I climbed into my car together and drove off, we hoped we wouldn’t regret it. 

Being Brave

brave

In December 2015, Alan and I decided we were going to get out of debt…again.

We loosely committed to becoming debt free before our first daughter was born in 2010. We became parents and our new found ability to handle money just up and walked out the door. Mainly because kids needs are expensive…but also because we “deserved” (i.e. wanted) nice things for our family.

And it just seemed too hard.

But, we had to make change for 2 reasons:

1) We did not want to live this way for the rest of our lives. We want to be able to have options and have fun with our money, instead of being stifled by money owed.

2) We realized that once all of our school loans became due, we would not be able to pay on all the debt and pay our bills. Absolutely terrifying. 

Before we started throwing money to pay off this and that, we needed a plan. And, we needed to know exactly how much we owed.

Here’s how my mental calculations went:

  • About $80K in school loans
  • A couple thousand on the furniture
  • About $13K on a credit
  • And not much on the car, because it will be paid off in 2 years anyway

So, we owed about $80ish, plus a little bit more.

But, when we looked at what we actually owed, it went something more like this:

  • $80K on school loans
  • $30K on a school loan that is technically not in our name, but we are pesonally committed to paying because it was used for Alan’s education
  • $13K in credit card debt
  • $5K in financed furniture
  • $6,600 on a car
  • $2K on iphones/ ipad that we were paying on monthly through our cell phone bill (side note, this is how most of us are paying for our phones these days)

That adds up to more than $135,000! What in the world?! 

It is scary to sit down and face your debt head on. It is terrifying to find out how much you owe. In fact, it made me feel a lot like the photo above does…and I’m scared of heights just to give you some context!  You might cry and you might want to throw up.

But, if you want things to change – and I think you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be here reading this – you just have to do it. Being brave is hard. But, just because it is hard, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.

What is something you wish you were brave enough to do? And what’s holding you back?

 

How did we get here?

I asked myself this a lot before we decided to do something about it.  I’m smart. I took AP classes in high school and graduated from college with honors and a minor in French.  I always held leadership roles in student government and Greek life. I secured my first job within weeks of graduating college.

As for Alan, he was on his own and employed full-time while working toward his degree at 19. Additionally, about 5 years ago, he returned to school and completed his bachelor’s degree – while working full time, raising a daughter and keeping a wife happy. Because, you know, a happy wife is a happy life! (But, seriously, it’s true!)

Clearly, we are very capable. So, how did we end up so financially stupid? I know the answer. And you know it too. You may even believe it.  

We deserved it. We deserved the nice cars, the new – and expensive – furniture, highest quality daycare, fancy hobbies,  luxe honeymoon and an occasional vacation thrown in the mix every now and again. We deserved it because we worked hard.

Sound familiar? Turns out, we didn’t deserve any of this because we couldn’t afford it.

Now, we ask ourselves a very different question in the face of “we deserve it.” Do we deserve debt? Do we deserve to be enslaved by payments? No, we deserve better. We deserve to create a better path for our family.

Romans 8:28 tells us “And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” Friends, this is what we are called to – our heavenly Father wants to work out ALL THINGS for our good.

Can you tell me again how debt is for our own good? The answer is easy. It’s not.

What is debt holding you back from?

Trapped


Trapped. That is what $135,852 in debt feels like. The funny thing is nearly eighty percent  is good debt “because it’s for your education,” or however the lie goes.

So, here we are 10 years post graduation, scraping and clawing our way through this mess. Tired of working forty plus hours each week and bringing home what should be plenty of income for our family of four, but never having an extra dime or peace of mind to show for it.

Instead, we’ve been broke for the better part of a decade. Feeling like we are standing at the bottom of Mount Everest, scared and intimidated by the impending climb. Or, more recently, feeling trapped in quick sand. Imagine trying to grasp for help, but there is nothing to hold onto so you sink lower and lower with no way out.

Our dollars owed and income earned may be unique. But our circumstances and feelings of hopelessness and embarrassment are not.

If you can relate, why don’t you to follow along on our journey of emotional, spiritual and financial renewal?

Together we can be fuel for each other’s journey, push aside old ways of thinking, look toward a better future and say hello to Old Blue.

What does your debt-free future hold?