I’m still busy with home-related items, so here’s another guest post. This one comes from paidtwice, the blogger behind I’ve Paid For This Twice Already (pretty cool blog name for a debt blogger!).
I always enjoy sharing some personal debt stories from others so I’m glad paidtwice sent me an article. BTW – I still have two ING $25 savings account referrals available from her. The $10 bonus that she gets when you use her referral is going towards her kid’s college accounts.
Debt Doesn’t Have to Just Be a Part of Life
My family and I are in a whole lot of debt. Over $35,000 worth to be exact, not including our mortgage. But it took me a long time to realize that we had a problem we needed to address, or even add up the numbers and realize it was such a large amount. The problem was, I’d never really thought about any of our debt being an issue besides our credit card. Yes, the credit card debt was a problem, and we’d been steadily paying it down over the past few years without adding anything to it. But the credit card was just one (actually relatively small) piece of the overall picture.
I’d never considered the idea that being in debt wasn’t just a part of life. Wasn’t everyone in debt, after all? Weren’t car payments and student loans just a part of being a grownup? I spent a lot of energy and effort thinking about our credit card debt and working on eliminating it but I honestly never gave more than a passing thought to dealing with our student loans or our car loan (or the idea that once this car was paid off, we wouldn’t just replace the other older already paid off car and take on a new loan).
But we were barely making ends meet and every month it was a balancing act to get all the bills paid on time and try to keep something small in our savings account just in case of an emergency. We were getting by, but we weren’t getting ahead. In fact, we were one very small disaster away from getting more than behind. I blamed the everlasting credit card debt for this but when I finally sat down and looked at our overall financial picture I realized eliminating the credit card payment was not going to make the huge difference in our outflow that I emotionally thought it would. There had to be something else keeping us from being able to more than get by on our income.
That is when I started looking at our budget, such as it was. Adding up the debts we paid to every month, I realized that we were paying out more than $700 a month just in minimum payments between our 2 student loans, car payment, and credit card. $700 a month. What if someone just handed you $700 a month? My guess is that it would make a significant difference in your quality of life. I know it would in mine. I can’t believe I just kept happily paying out that much money without ever considering doing anything to change it.
Debt was just a part of life…. right?
Lucky for me, I started to question that assumption before we were sunk so far in we started to drown. And I started to question the idea that we had to be in debt for as long as the payment plans we signed up for. And I made a plan. The plan is still in the infant stages (we’re still working on eliminating the credit card, after all), but we’ve woken up so to speak and are improving our quality of life one debt-dollar-eliminated at a time.
Question assumptions. Debt doesn’t have to just be a part of life.