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Mandi’s Debt Introduction

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Note: This is the introduction written by Mandi about her debt to be the next BAD blogger. Take the time to comment or ask questions about her debt journey. This is part of the process to find a new BAD blogger which you can find out more about here

My name is Mandi, and I am debt! It is a secret from everyone, because I appear to be very in control most of the time. I grew up with very financially responsible parents, and I did not have debt of my own until I got married. My husband had about $20,000 in debt when we married, and we paid this all off in a few years. We then saved $20,000 before having children so that I could stay home. I stayed home until my son was 3, and then I went back to work.

Unfortunately, while I wasn’t working, we didn’t cut back too much and burned through all the savings and racked up incredible debt. Our current debt includes credit cards with balances of $3,000, $11,000, and $6,000. We also have a home equity loan of $31,000 and a loan from my parents for $3500. We have recently been able to pay off balances on other cards, so this is not our starting point. Our take-home pay is $6100 per month.

We also bought an older home while I wasn’t working. Our mortgage is inexpensive, but since it is older, we had many unexpected repairs (new HVAC and new ductwork, anyone?), and there are, of course, cosmetic changes that I would really like to make. Making our home inviting is very important to me, and I struggle with paying off debt versus making lasting changes in our home. This and travelling are our two top issues with saving versus spending. I don’t mean extravagant trips, either. Even a weekend at a nearby beach is no drop in the bucket for a family of 4.

In addition to paying off all that debt, I also want to replace the savings we’ve spent and increase our savings in other areas like 401(k)s, etc. I struggle with how to prioritize each item. I would really benefit from the advice that readers here provide, and I need people to call me on my “justified” expenses like new paint, light fixture, furnishings, etc.

I think it would be beneficial to post how much money has been spent each week (and if it was me or my husband). When I even THINK of doing that, I cringe at the items I would put down and not look at twice because I would have to justify the expense to everyone. This includes items at the grocery store. In some areas I feel we are very frugal, but objectively, I know that we probably aren’t. I only feel that way because I am comparing myself to others in my social circle.

I showed my husband the blog, and he is interested, especially in me contributing, but I don’t know how that translates to his involvement. He is very supportive, and he mostly listens when I express concerns about debt, but he does not want to get granular. In fact, he does not even know how to check any of our balances, including our checking account! He does not spend a lot of money on “things,” though, so it might not be as challenging as I think it could be.

I would love the opportunity to share more, answer questions, and start contributing to the site, so thank you for reading!

jeffrey

Jeffrey tries to remain in the back ground of this blog as much as possible and support the bloggers so that they can share their stories.

Latest posts by jeffrey (see all)


21 Comments

  • Reply debtor |

    wow, this is certainly a unique perspective. To go from minimal debt to all this! wowza! where you comfortable as the debt was accumulating? coz i would imagine someone in your situation would not have been used to seeing balances grow like that!

    You guys thought 20k was enough to replace your lost income plus the added expense of a kid. Youth!!!

    Anyway, i can totally see how you would benefit from this blog and I’m interested to hear so much more. If you’re not chose, certainly start a blog – it would give you accountability and i’m sure lots of folks would be interested.

  • Reply Julene |

    If there is one thing I’ve learned over the past few years of our “getting our of debt” journey its that my husbands involvement is a necessity. In my world I was allowing him to just live in the dark while I was the only one that had to “get granular” as you say. Because of that I was also the only one that had to manage it all, face the debt, figure it out and make all the decisions. That’s a lot of pressure even when you don’t see it. It has been tough but worth it getting him involved. I’m still the nerd that does all the figures but he has to take responsibility for it too.

    How serious are you about paying off debt and is your husband on board with that?

  • Reply Jen |

    Wow Mandi,my husband and I are in a similar situation. No one knows because I, like you, look like I’m in control. Hope to watch you go through your journey as we go through ours.

  • Reply Mandi |

    debtor – I wasn’t all that comfortable in the beginning, but since I wasn’t working, there wasn’t much I could do about it in the short-term. Once I went back to work, I just didn’t make the leap to motivation fast enough to stop the bleeding.

    Julene – I shared my post and the comments so far with my husband, and he is positive he’s on board. I understand what you’re saying about the pressure of doing all the work. I feel like it’s a lot of pressure, but I also don’t feel like I always follow through as well as I could. I am seriously committed to paying it all off now.

  • Reply Theresa |

    Mandi’s story hits close to home. Maybe too close. Lots of interesting journeys to choose from. Do we get to decide soon? I think a couple bloggers could be very interesting. Any luck getting Claire to do an update? Tell her the readers are dying to know if she still uses her gym membership or if she has a maid yet. (Ha-ha).

  • Reply Kili |

    As a fond reader of Claire’s posts I hope she’s doing well and getting closer to her goal of eliminating debt.

    Mandi, how do you plan to tackle the debt? By spending less? By earning more? By both?
    How old are you, your husband and the kid(s)?
    How do you plan to teach your kid(s) about budgeting / financial responsibility etc.?

    All the best on your journey!

  • Reply Theresa |

    Oh maybe my humor didn’t translate. I really was pulling for Claire and was actually supportive of her controversial gym membership. She made so many beneficial changes during her time blogging. I hope she is well.

  • Reply Jen From Boston |

    I think Mandi’s struggle with which financial goal to prioritize will hit home to a lot of people, even those who aren’t in debt. It’s tough, sometimes, to decide where to put the money – debt repayment? retirement? emergency fund? kids’ stuff? I know I ask myself those things. It would be interesting to work through those problems as a group.

  • Reply Mandi |

    Kili,

    I think the path of least resistance would be to spend less in this season of our lives. I have a very flexible job where I work from home 50% of the time, so it would be hard to give that up. The increase in salary would have to still feel like an increase after increasing my gas money and daycare expenses. My husband could possibly find another job, but I do not think he is unhappy where he’s at.

    I am 36, my husband is 40, and our kids are 4 and 5.

    I have read a little bit about what to teach your children, but honestly, we haven’t focused much on that yet. My daughter (5) does know to check out only stuff on clearance at Target – does that count? But seriously, they are too young for an allowance, I think, so we talk about why we don’t buy certain things at the store, and that is it so far. It would be interesting to hear some perspective from readers with slightly older children.

    Jen from Boston – it IS a struggle to prioritize when everything seems important. Since going back to work, I haven’t prioritized saving at all, when before, I was all about it. The kid stuff is especially hard. We don’t buy our kids a lot of “things,” but denying them a summer camp because their parents were dumb with money can sting.

  • Reply debtor |

    So, I’m beginning to feel like everything is starting to blur together (even mine!). I know there were some folks i liked earlier but I can’t even remember why.

    How many more of these are we getting (nothing against you Mandi, you’re just the most current comment section).

    Or maybe have a top 6 vote right now or something…

  • Reply Andrea |

    This is the first blogger that really hit home with our situation – right down to a husband who doesn’t know specifics about the day-to-day accounts. Plus, it’s a change from yet another student loan story. It sounds like her debt came about exactly like ours. She’s also focused on long term savings, which, in my opinion, too often gets left out of the picture.

    • Reply Jen From Boston |

      You know, now that I think about it, focusing too much on long-term savings was part of the reason I had credit card debt (now gone). I had a fear of being a poor, old woman eating cat food so I made sure I contributed to my 401(k) and IRAs, but I completely neglected budgeting and building an emergency fund for a long time. As a result, I had credit card debt until sometime in the early 00’s. Looking back I am annoyed with myself for 1. failing to see that saving at 5-7% (remember those rates?) wasn’t a bad idea when paying 10-15% interest; 2. having some sort of an emergency fund would have prevented me from piling on more credit card debt when the car needed maintenance, and 3. having some sort of budget and really thinking about needs vs. wants would have been crucial. If I had done all that earlier I could have owned a home earlier, etc., etc.

      In a way I was pound wise and penny foolish? ;P

      • Reply Shauna |

        I’m often concerned about never having enough $ to retire on. With a period of five years of being under employed my 401k is no where near where I need it to be, so I’ve been contributing 15% of my pretax earnings to try to catch up. If it weren’t for the company match on a portion of that I wonder if it would be better to pay down more debt instead. And now my emergency fund is the same as my credit card debt, and I’m tempted to pay off my credit card completely with that.

      • Reply Andrea |

        I think you have to know yourself and if your debt habits are truly broken. (And, by you – I mean people in general, not you specifically). If you’re going to run the debt right back up, which too many people do, then saving at the same time might be the right choice. In our case, I ran up and paid off my charge card several times. My husband recognized this habit of mine was not going to change on its own. And, he couldn’t force me to change it. So, he simple continued to sock away money and invest, invest, invest. My credit card payments came from my spending allotment, so to him it was my call to waste it on interest. Didn’t change his saving for our future at all. However, I better not come crying for money for furniture or trips or fancy clothes. He knew that until I was really able and willing to commit to staying out of debt that any extra money to pay off my credit card was wasted-I’d be likely to run it up again without realizing until it was too late. There’s more to our story, but the upshot is that to him I traded interest for stuff I couldn’t buy. And, to me, I finally appreciate how his saving habit has paid off in many different ways, including the possibility for early retirement.

  • Reply Steve |

    Jeffrey,

    Not sure how many you plan to audition before you decide on the next blogger. The more choices you include, the harder it is for folks to decide. Why not announce 3 finalists, have them submit another post, and then have the readers’ vote? Continuing this parade of new potential bloggers is not getting you closer to a decision.

    • Reply Jim |

      I think this is one of the best ideas yet! Give the readers more on what to expect from the blogger

  • Reply Cathy C. |

    I haven’t checked in on this blog for months because honestly, I just couldn’t relate to Adam and Emily and felt they weren’t divulging enough info about their true financial picture enought for me to care…

    Now I see they’ve hung up the towel and it comes as no real surprise. There are WAY too many choices/applicants for this, but that said, Mandi’s seems to resonant with me. I’m sick of seeing student loan debt. Yep. I get it. Everyone of the younger generation has it. My generation, however, does not. We are of the generation who earned scholarships, joined the military, or had very generous parents who SAVED for our education (I, however, had to make my own way and work my patootie off to earn a scholarship which I wasted away in my freshman year and ended up in the military:))

    I’d love to hear about REAL life experiences, because we had our schizz together for a couple years and then we find ourselves with a 20-something living under our roof needing a car to get back and forth to work for an INCOME and not just be a moocher, back in a little car debt, just living life, but not living DEBT FREE.

    Would love some motivation again, but I’ve realized on this path for 3 years now… Dave Ramsey doesn’t live in the real world. I don’t want to wake up at 80, finally wealthy with no energy or desire to LIVE LIFE.

  • Reply Thomas |

    Why not just present your creditors with promissory notes that you created yourself? If they (the creditors) refuse your payment for the debt then the debt is discharged. If they say they don’t accept promissory notes then you cannot by their own statement use Federal Reserve Notes to pay…. guess who has no more debts after that? You can offer them a Bill Of Exchange (a fancy private check if you will) converted from their invoice that again they will refuse, so again you can’t pay with a check…. you can’t use notes and you can’t use a check, what’s left to pay with? OR you can work work work and be a slave to them. Learn a little commerce and you will NEVER use “your” cash again for the debts “you” have.

    Only slaves pay tax and debts.

  • Reply Rebecca |

    This is a great story (or not so great story!). Looking forward to hearing more from you!

So, what do you think ?