Note: This is an introduction from Shauna about her current debt situation in hopes of being the next blogger at BAD. Feel free to ask her any questions and leave comments about her situation. More information is available about the new blogger position here
Hello, my name is Shauna and like many of you I am trying to balance paying off debt, saving for my children’s education, saving for retirement and just paying everyday bills. I’m 36 recently married with two kids and about $70k in debt all my own. While I look at that number and think “How did I get that far into debt? I’m a smart person who doesn’t live an extravagant life” the reality is I know full well many of the choices I’ve made that have gotten me to this point.
The short version of this story is that when I first lived on my own I got a credit card, took out more student loans than I needed to pay for college and lived beyond my means. I married young to someone who lived even further beyond his means, since he made more money than I did I didn’t question it. Add a move out of state, a surprise divorce and loss of my job due to a company bankruptcy and as you’d imagine my finances didn’t fare so well. While trying to get myself back on my feet in an almost non-existent job market and during a custody battle I went back to college, sinking further into debt. Of course all the while with the idea that one day I’d be able to fully tackle it all when I did land a job again. Here I am five years after I did get that job I was hoping to land, even further into debt than I was before.
When I got married for a second time a year and a half ago my husband’s finances were in much better shape than mine. He made all the right decisions with his money along the way having a house, truck, motorcycle, etc. all paid in full; a sizable retirement account and a decent savings account. Mostly due to my embarrassment and partially due to guilt for amassing so much debt I have not wanted to put any of the burden of this debt on my husband. While he’s aware in general of my sizable debt, it’s not something we talk about. Right now we each handle our own expenses for the most part. Since the house is paid off the arrangement is that I pay for all the groceries and household supplies and he pays for the utilities (Natural gas, Electric and Cable) and the taxes. I’m responsible for all of my debt payments, my daughter’s expenses and my other bills for things like car insurance, cell phone, etc. We have some shared daycare expenses with our new son. As time goes on I see us sharing more expenses, like when we do find a new home to buy together.
While this is not the beginning of my debt journey, I’ve finally reached the point where I have the time and energy to face my debt head on. I’ve been trying to pay my debt down for years now, but it seems to keep growing slowly each year. As I look at how much money each month I have to put towards debt, and dream of much better things I could be doing with all that money I’ve reached the point where I don’t want this debt to run my life anymore.
I hope that by putting all the numbers out for everyone to see not only will I feel more accountable for my actions, I will also get a better idea of how I’m sabotaging myself. I’m hoping to be able to laugh together about my mistakes and look for advice on the best ways to get my debt paid off. I’m opening to trying almost anything to get this tackled as soon as possible.
Where I stand now:
- $4,666 in credit card debt
- $14,101 in auto loan debt
- $58,698 in various Student Loans (Currently on a graduated repayment plan so I can afford to pay them each month) At this rate I’d be paying for my student loans up until I meet retirement age. Yikes!
Currently I’m making monthly payments of $250 to my credit card; $525 towards my auto loan and $370 towards my student loans. I often “budget” to pay more toward my credit card, but often I don’t pay more or end up putting more on my card so it ends up being a wash each month.
First things first I’m going to have to take an honest look at what I spent last year ($1,400 at Amazon.com alone last year to my credit card) and create a realistic budget and debt repayment plan from there. I’m looking forward to any questions, comments and suggestions.