Everyone starts for a reason, you have to have fuel right? Well, my “fuel” came in the wee hours of December 2, 2016. I had already been toying with the idea of putting us on a strict financial diet in the new year and possibly blogging the process, but as I was paying our credit card bills I saw that one had jumped from about 40% utilization to over 90%. My husband had been using it for every day purchases and never mentioned it. Over $1,000 on sodas, fast food, quick stops in just 2 months. I was crushed. The card is in my name, and I have been working hard over the past three years to establish credit and get my credit score to a number that would look good enough to lenders to get a loan should we need another car or find a house we want to buy. I finally reached that point earlier this fall but was continuing to slowly build it every month. So, in that moment, I sat down and wrote the following:
December 2, 2016 Money… it’s breaking my heart. It’s eating at my marriage. It’s controlling, manipulating, and powerful. But what if it doesn’t have to be? What if it is all of those things because I let it be?
Today, I am at an all new financial low. I’ve been broke before, I’ve had to stagger payments so that I don’t overdraw my account, or sell stuff to make ends meet. This “low” is new, and it’s so much worse.
So far in our marriage, my husband has been our main source of income. The first couple years he was our only real source of income, allowing me to go to school. I’ve had odd jobs that pay a little here and there for “fun money” along the way, but I didn’t get a “real” job until 2 years ago. My husband has been pulling 40+ hour weeks at the same job for the past seven and a half years (we’ve only been married for six and a half) and his company changed their pay-out system around the same time that I got my job. The first four years of our marriage our combined incomes came in around $25,000-$30,000, not much if you really think about the cost of living anymore. But in the 5th year, something changed. Suddenly he was making a heck of a lot more, more than we were used to, more than we knew how to handle. Sure, you might be thinking “so just save above what you were making, if you were already living on that you should be fine” and believe me, we had that same thought. But, then you see something new and shiny and think “I’ll just treat myself this time, and I’ll save it next time,” and then that next time never comes because you end up in a perpetual cycle of treating yourself to new and shiny things. We’ve talked about it, and I feel like maybe because we didn’t have money to spend on ourselves before that we feel justified doing it now, but it’s not okay.
Here we are, in our late 20s with no saving account, no retirement fund, $41 in our checking account, and growing debt on store-issued credit cards. I am ready, I want to erase our debt, I want more than one savings account, and I want to start a retirement account.
Earlier this year when we filed our taxes we celebrated the fact that our combined gross income was over $60,000 for last year. Last week our combined gross income for this year (four more weeks to go) crossed into six figures. There was no celebration, there was no excitement. Instead, I went grocery shopping with a calculator because I had $200 to get us through the week after all of our bills would hit the account. I spent $109 on groceries and left with a pit in my stomach, $50 cash in my wallet, and an overwhelming desire to change. I have been more motivated this week than I have been in the past year to save money, and that is the only reason we still have $41 in our checking account, I have ¾ of a tank of gas, and I still have $4 cash in my wallet.
Would I change this past year? No. We’ve had some incredible experiences. We traveled more than we ever have, made big purchases that were necessary (lawnmower, washer, etc), and at the end of the month always paid our bills even if there wasn’t anything left over. I am however, going to change the way we spend our money in the coming year. More importantly I am going to change how we view our money.
It is my goal to open this blog on January 1 2017 and post in accordance to the schedule I have planned. I have several financial and personal goals that I am going to be pushing to reach before the start of 2018. If you feel interested in joining in on my journey, I would love to have you.