Some people can pinpoint a moment in time when the lighbulb comes on. My financial awakening was more of a process.
There’s an interesting post up at Gather Little by Little today. Gina wrote a guest post about her financial epiphany….the day she knew she had to get in control of her finances. Then Gibble challenged his readers to respond by writing a post on their own financial epiphanies. So here is mine.
I can’t say there was one moment in time when my husband and I realized we needed to get our finances in control. I got into debt largely through a lack of knowledge. I knew that not paying my credit card payments on time would result in a bad credit score, but I thought having credit card debt was important for building a credit history. I thought that as long as I could afford the monthly payments, I was in good shape.
I also bought into the idea that a college degree was necessary, even if I had to take out a student loan. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that I should have picked a major that would allow me to get a good job, so I majored in sociology, because I found it interesting. There’s not much you can do with a B.A. in Sociology. Right after I married my husband, I decided to go to graduate school to get my special education teaching credential. I took out $10,000 in student loans, but I never finished the program. That’s how we got into debt.
A few months after we got married and I had dropped out of school, I picked up Larry Burkett’s Complete Financial Guide for Young Couples. I devoured it. I think that’s when I realized I was interested in learning about personal finance. I checked out every Larry Burkett book I could find from the library. I remember listening to Dave Ramsey on our local Christian radio station, before he was really popular. I heard Mary Hunt for the first time on that same Christian radio station, and soon I was reading everything she had written also.
Soon I was very knowledgeable about personal finance. And since my husband worked at that local Christian radio station, we knew all about frugal living. Working in Christian radio is a great thing, and my husband loves it, and I support him wholeheartedly, but it’s not something you do for the money. :) We became experts at making ends meet despite a lack of money. But we weren’t getting ahead in paying off our debts. In fact, at times we went backwards, since we had no emergency fund. It was frustrating, to say the least, and the task of paying off our debts seemed impossible.
I’d say the moment we got serious about paying off our debts was in late 2006 when my father-in-law passed away. He left us a small inheritance, and before he died he told my husband he should use the money to pay off our debts. Jim and I agreed to doing just that. The inheritance wasn’t enough to cover all of our debts, but we cut our debt load in half. And for the first time in our married life, it seemed like getting out of debt was an achievable goal.
Since then, we’ve had many ups and downs. But it seems that once a person gets a taste of success, a taste of reaching the goal, it’s a hard goal to give up. So despite a couple of job losses, despite the fact that we owe a lot of taxes this year, and despite the fact that we are once again living on a very tight budget, we are not giving up. I’m looking forward to being out of credit card debt by September and completely out of debt by the end of 2010. I know we’ll make the September deadline for paying off the credit card. Time will tell if we’ll be able to pay off the student loan by 2011. But it’s good to have the end of our debt in sight.
Photo by Vox_Efx.
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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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