Sitting at 65k of debt, most people would think that I am consumed with getting out of debt. Teetering on the edge. One bad event away from total ruin.....Maybe. There certainly isn't room for error. It isn't a great way to live. But I am beyond the point of obsessing over it, worrying about it constantly. I have already done that.
Before I get started, let me say I am NOT comfortable having the debt. We made our share of bad decisions that contributed to all of this. But we also had several things happen that were beyond our control and because we were already in a not-so-great position, it compound things.
When I started tracking all of this, I was obsessed with every number. I updated my side bar everyday. If I made a $10 payment, I recorded it. If we were charged $1.32 in interest, I recorded it. My sole focus was how to make this all go away.
In the first few years, the overall number went down. However, individual numbers bounced around....the car went down, the CC went up. We were still using our CC as a crutch. We still weren't using it for anything "fun" or "good"...it was just a stop gap. Not a smart one, but at the time we didn't know how else to do it.
2011 was a murphy filled, emotionally jarring, miserable year. It all went to pot. All of it. Not one thing didn't take a hit in one way or another. It took until the very end of the year for it all to settle and really see what damage was done.
By 2012, we had sort of figured out what things were working, and what weren't. We were able to shuffle things around, change a few things, and things started to improve. The biggest contributing factor was income. As my hours increased, it allowed us more breathing room. We had been hemorrhaging money....which eventually slowed to a trickle.....which eventually scabbed over, and now is in a process of healing.
We still have had set backs. And we have used our CC for things that we shouldn't have. Those decisions have repercussions, and we are the ones who deal with that. But while we have made those mistakes, there are alot of things that we have done "right."
- We have the budget worked to include bills that we only pay a few times a year, instead of trying to find the money when the bill comes around. We have paid cash for camp for the kids every year, again, learning how to save up for it instead of hoping to have overtime or some other extra money.
- While the retirement loan isn't for everyone, we have been able to pay off 19k in two years that would have taken us 10.
- We are at a point now that the second job is helping to put EXTRA toward debt, not just maintain our household.
There are still things that we continue to struggle with.....the food budget it the #1 culprit. I don't need advise....I just need to improve what I am doing. We also struggle with wanting to improve things in our house....not because we just want to, but because so many things have become run down because we haven't been able to attend to them sooner. All of these things can be costly, and we don't have the means to fix them. It really does bring us down mentally.
If I had it to do all over, I think I would have been more aware of credit cards when we were new parents. I wasn't working, and taking care of 2 preemie babies was my priority. I just didn't pay attention to the budget. If we needed something, we got it. (This was not "extra" stuff...this is diapers, gas for the car, etc.) Sure, there were some purchases that were more impulse....again, nothing that exciting. Heck, I have kidded around that if we were going to be this in debt, I WISH I had done something to show for it.
And if I really had a do-over....I would go back even further....and not move to Connecticut. We were married 2 years, no kids yet. At almost 25and 27 years old....it was a good time for us to move. Just not to CT. We didn't understand how much the cost of living here was truly going to impact the bottom line. We were naive to the effects of taxes, high utilities, gas prices. We didn't yet know how to run a full household with a house, kids, jobs. And no one even tried to talk to us about it. So off down the path we went. We have distant family here....less than 30 min away...and we really thought that they would be a support system, as was extended to us during conversations. Not so much. And we thought we would live here for a few years and move on to the next chapter. Not so much.
In a do-over....I think we would have moved to North Carolina then. It was discussed. But again....youth can bring naivety and here we are.
So in conclusion to a little bit of a ramble.....We really are ok with how things are overall going. Things have finally settled. I pay the bills and keep on walking. I am not going to lament all day how to get out of debt faster. I have a plan. I am certainly open to little surprises along the way that will allow us to jog instead of walk (but the ones that have us on the side of the path huffing and puffing can just stay away!!). But there is a plan, we are working that plan. And we are ok.