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And the new blogger is…

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Hi!  My name is Claire and I’m in debt.  That isn’t the shocking part of course because if you are visiting this blog then you KNOW I am in debt.  The shock will be when you see the numbers–and it won’t be a shock just for blog readers.  It will be a shock for anyone who knows me.  I am perhaps the last person anyone would ever guess would have the amount of debt I have.  In every area of my life I am known for being organized and responsible.  I am the person people look to for advice.  I don’t live a lavish lifestyle that would explain all of the debt.  Many consider me frugal!  Heck!  I think I’ve even bought into this vision others have about me and that has only contributed to the madness!

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” Henry Ford  Okay, Mr. Ford…here goes:

I don’t accept failure with grace. I’m sure you’re thinking most people don’t–but I really, really don’t accept failure with grace. When faced with failure, instead of embracing it for the learning and growing opportunity it is, I have learned that I have an incredible ability to live in denial. Avoid! Avoid! Avoid! Take sports for example–from an early age I realized I had no athletic abilities so beginning in about the 2nd grade, I never did anything remotely close to athletics.  I only do things that I am naturally good at doing.  If only my inability to handle finances had resulted in my never using credit, I’d be okay…but instead I knew I wasn’t good at managing money…so I didn’t.  I kept USING money mind you–sometimes my money, more often some lender’s money and stayed away from managing money…just like I stayed away from sports.  That’s the bad news. The good news is I’ve learned that about myself and now hope to maintain that knowledge in my conscience thinking.

I am a wife, a mom to 2, a stepmom to 2 more, a daughter, a sister,  a professional with an advanced degree and a financial failure. It feels good to admit that!

I am newly remarried. No one ever expects their first marriage to end in divorce.  While I never would have chosen my path I now embrace it fully! After 14 years of marriage and two awesome kids—I got a divorce. I took the debt from the first marriage spent two years as a single mom of two…adding debt on top of the debt of divorce…and then met my adorable match and now husband. Enter the blended family and the Mount Kilimanjaro of all challenges–on every front–and yep…you guessed it..more debt!

My financial life was spiraling out of control.  I don’t know what the lightbulb moment was really but something happened on January 1, 2012.  My new husband and I devised a plan to tackle our spending and my debt aggressively. I say “MY” debt because it is all  my debt.  When we met and married, my husband had a home mortgage and nothing more.  No school loans, no credit cards, no car loan, nothing.  That said, he’ll admit there wasn’t a lot saved either and having no credit history creates a problem of its own!  He’s sort of like Rip Van Winkle as he seeks credit! But imagine my stress level as I learned he had no debt and I was coming with a tsunami size tidal wave.  There have been BIG challenges, but he has been wonderful through the process and as his house has dramatically lost value and he finds himself upside down and unable to sell and his paid off very old car finally gave way…well we have to accept that we simply make each other better!  Without the other we are individually in a bad place…together we have a chance.

We are only 2 months into this journey and I am hopeful that by sharing my story with others, I will keep the momentum going to a debt-free life!  I just read Tricia’s update regarding her life after being debt free and it could not have come at a better time.  I expect this blog to hold me accountable.  I expect this blog to remind me that I cannot run from the debt like I ran from sports!  Thanks in advance.

So, I’ll let you have some time to absorb what you know so far about my story…and then we will reveal the big numbers we face…but don’t judge me please!  I’m stepping out with some hesitation and need to know I am not alone! 🙂  If you have to lie to me…LIE!  Just kidding!


46 Comments

  • Reply Hannah |

    Welcome Claire!

    The first paragraph resonates with me so much. I’m the go-to out of my group of gal pals for advice you know the responsible and organized one.

    But! And it was a big but I was quietly and uncomfortably in debt. I had a “something clicked” moment and in March 2011 starting paying all my debt off.

    I had $25k starting and I am now down to $8000, with a pay off date of June 28, 2012.

    Please check out Dave Ramsey and his Total Money Makeover Book, he changed my views on debt and money.

    I look forward to hearing your stories and wins!

  • Reply Amanda N |

    I look forward to following your journey out of debt, as I have with the previous bloggers. I am sure it takes a lot of courage to put it all out there. Good luck to you as you begin the journey. I was very happy when Beks posted they paid off the debt, and one day I hope to be happy for you as well.

  • Reply Money Beagle |

    Welcome. I’m sure you won’t be judged and I am really looking forward to reading about your journey and the eventual passing of the torch once you reach your goals!

  • Reply Deb |

    Looking forward to following your story… as one who has done it and loves to encourage others!
    Blessings on the journey~

  • Reply jocelyn |

    Hi Claire
    Reading your story, I can relate to some things. Growing up if I knew I couldn’t be great at something I wouldn’t even bother. And the number of my debt is something no one could ever imagine.

    I look forward to reading more about your journey.

  • Reply Michelle |

    Welcome Claire, no judging here. I look forward to reading your posts!

  • Reply Marianne |

    Welcome! Looking forward to hearing more about your journey and plan! I hear what you say about avoiding things you aren’t good at. I am naturally like that too and can’t stand looking stupid. I think I’m changing a bit though and am starting to try to do things that challenge me in this area. There is hope! 🙂

  • Reply Marilyn |

    Hi Claire. First of all, I’m thrilled you took the step to face your debt.

    2nd you have to read this book by this PhD psychologist Carol Dweck called Mindset. It will blow your mind. You perfectly describe yourself in what she calls a “fixed mindset” If you don’t take to something naturally, you’ll never be good at it.

    And then she proves that in the majority of cases that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s an awesome read, and I think it could be extremely helpful for your debt payoff journey.

  • Reply RB |

    Hi Claire. I got married later in life. At 34 years old and both having lived alone for many years, we were very set in our ways. It took us 5 years to realize that we were not at all on the same page regarding spending, debt, etc. By the time we woke up, the debt level was overwhelming and our future was at risk. My wife always struggled with money, but I thought I knew better than to spend more than we make. Then I tried the “borrow your way out of debt” plan. That failed miserably, causing our debt to double. We are starting to gain ground now and look forward to cheering with you on your journey.

  • Reply Sandra J |

    Welcome! (I feel like I’m at an AA meeting!) I also have lots of debt – thanks for sharing your journey with us. 🙂

  • Reply Alice @ Dont Debt |

    Welcome! Congrats on getting the position. Our story is quite similar, so will enjoy seeing you work through ways to get out of debt. I’ll be along for the ride.

  • Reply SimSimani |

    Welcome Claire! I look forward to reading about your journey and learning a thing or two from you as well. Like you, I’m the go-to-financial person in my group of friends (I even have an advanced degree in economics!), and yet -… *sigh* let’s just say, I haven’t accepted reality yet, so kudos to you for getting started! 🙂

    Good luck 🙂

  • Reply Debt-free Dan |

    Welcome. I’d like to hear whether there’s a particular debt-reduction approach that you plan to follow. Thanks.

  • Reply Andrea @SoOverDebt |

    Welcome, Claire! I can already tell we’re going to get along beautifully – I also have a lot of debt (as a result of my poor decisions), I’m divorced, and I’m blogging about my attempts to get my situation under control.

    Can’t wait to read more!

  • Reply Grace |

    Welcome Claire–and count yourself lucky to be concerned about your debt at your young age. I was blithely spending through life when I woke up nearing sixty with too much debt and not nearly enough retirement. We may be at different stages, but the pain is the same!

  • Reply ProverbialMoney |

    Claire,
    Welcome to the site! I think you’ll find that just the simple fact of staying “accountable” to us via posts will drastically improve your odds of getting out of debt. Dieting, exercise, recovering from addictions, all of the heavy behavior modification strategies involve accountability to others and sharing your experience.

    One thing that helps in my journey is to keep detailed records of your total debt. I have a spreadsheet, and every month I record the ending balance when I get my statements. Then, even if I only make minimum payments, it feels good to say “This month we are $546 less in debt than we were a month ago.” Seeing the decline over the months in total debt is a huge motivator.

    Welcome aboard, and be prepared to be held accountable and face death from 10,000 papercuts…er….comments if you fall off the wagon!

  • Reply Jeff |

    I look forward to you blog. I started following when Beks was blogging. I love the honesty of your first post.

  • Reply Poor to Rich a Day at a Time |

    Welcome Claire! I so look forward to your journey of accountablility here as you pay down your debt.
    A struggle that will be well worth it’s weight in gold when you make that final payment! YOU GO GIRL!

  • Reply Matt |

    Welcome, Claire. Your debt is high but so are your hopes, and like Tricia and Beks before you, I expect you will discover truth and success. We hope to enjoy hearing your trails and tribulations (well, enjoy is not the correct word!). I’ve seen worse debt, and your story is one that many share – divorce, debt, hopeless. But yours adds new love and a partner to share in the journey. I look forward to encouraging you on your way.

  • Reply Claire in CA, USA |

    Hi Claire! Kinda weird to say “hi” to someone with my own name. There aren’t that many of us! 😀

    I will NEVER judge you. I hope you find this a place to be honest and share you struggles. Most of us reading have been there or are there, so you are definitely not alone.

    Welcome! 🙂

  • Reply Nicole |

    Welcome Claire! Excellent first post, I look forward to learning and reading more!

  • Reply Janelle C. |

    Welcome Claire! I’m looking forward to hearing about and watching your journey. No judgement from me – I’m in debt and working on getting out right along with you!

    I especially am excited to follow you as I was one of the top 10 chosen, along with you, to replace Bex. No hard feelings, none from me! Its exciting to see and read what will happen as you choose to become debt free!

    Welcome – can’t wait to see your next post!

  • Reply Georgia |

    Hi Claire! I am starting my debt-free journey with you. I’m doubt your numbers will shock any of us. In fact~we’re all secretly hoping yours are worse than ours 😉 I look forward to following your blog!

  • Reply Jenn |

    I only found this blog in the last year and a half of Beks journey. While I will miss her, I am excited to be at the beginning of yours. I know how you feel about bringing debt to a marriage. I am getting married in September for the first time at age 38. I am bringing all kinds of debt to the partnership (including my own home), while he brings just his home. He also isn’t a saver, but we are working on it. I just feel lots of guilt that I didn’t manage myself better, but as he pointed out, he had older parents that paid for all his schooling, and taught him a bit more about debt than my (16yr old) single parent who also was taught nothing either. I am now trying to break the cycle.

  • Reply Alice @ Dont Debt |

    Janelle C. – I was one of the top 10 as well! Same here, no hard feelings.

  • Reply Vicki |

    @ Janelle C and Alice @ Dont Debt – I too was in the top 10 and ditto for me. No hard feeling here as well.

  • Reply Thelma |

    Just recently found this site (recommended by a friend). I will be interested to follow your journey. 🙂

  • Reply Jen from Boston |

    Hi Claire!! And congratulations on facing your finances! Many people don’t, so this is a big step for you!

    Anyway, I look forward to getting to know you 🙂

  • Reply Janelle C. |

    @ Alice @ Dont Debt and Vicki – HOW COOL! I figured that the others in the top 10 had to be frequent visitors. I’m thrilled and excited for Claire! I can see why they chose her already – just starting out, a load of debt! That right there is a jump on me.

    We’ve been snowballing the Dave Ramsey way for 3 years now. We’re about 16 months from being debt free. I was hoping that the fact that we have a large family and one income would get me the slot as that hasn’t been a perspective heard yet. Even so, I’m thrilled to keep reading and watching folks continue to get out of the madness of debt and into the freedom of a bright, financial future! I don’t know about you guys, but I felt honored to be in that top 10!

  • Reply Carol |

    Welcome, Claire! I look forward to joining you on your journey to becoming debt free. Thank you for taking your time to step forward and continue this blog and for your courage to be so open and honest, so we may all learn from your experiences. It’s not going to be a easy, but hopefully with the support of this wonderful online community here, you will see your numbers go down in no time!

  • Reply Frugal Grad |

    Looking forward to hearing more about your journey! I know you can do it 🙂

  • Reply Vicki |

    @ Janelle – like you I was honored to be a finalist. I am on track to be debt free in about 3 years. And good for you!

  • Reply margot |

    Good luck. You have the power to make the right choices and be financially responsible.

    I’m confused about your statements regarding your husband’s credit condition/score. One can have a normally-calculated credit score with only mortgage debt. There’s no reason he wouldn’t have credit and a credit score. And there’s no connection between not having enough savings and not having a credit score. Without a credit score, one is free to save even more money if one doesn’t over-spend.

  • Reply Tricia |

    Hi Claire! Welcome!! 🙂

    I’m looking forward to following along with your story. I think you’ll find a wonderful group of readers here!

  • Reply Matt in CO |

    Hi Claire,

    Welcome to the blog! I’ve been reading this blog since Tricia was wrapping up and Beks was taking over.

    I’m looking forward to reading your posts. From what I’ve seen so far, I think my wife and I can relate to some of your approaches and attitudes. While some degree of sacrifice and discipline are needed to pay down debt, I think there still needs be some balance between splurging in moderation (on a modest family vacation for example) and going to a completely spartan lifestyle.

    For what it’s worth, we paid down our credit card debt (about $30k) a couple of years ago. We also just finished paying off our second mortgage (around $39k originally–started paying it down aggressively in 2009). We are now down to around $10k in non-mortgage debt (between a low interest rate car loan and student loan) which we expect to have paid off in the next 6-12 months. We did these things mainly via some informed budget restrictions, but certainly didn’t go to the cost cutting extremes that a lot of folks probably would have. Then again, I supposed that’s where the ‘personal’ part of “personal finance” comes in. It’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all thing.

    I guess that’s my long winded way of telling you not to let some of the more negative postings get you down. 😉

    Cheers!

    p.s. San Antonio, huh? I can’t imagine living there in the summer months. My wife used to live in Austin and I remember going to visit one July (we also took a drive down to San Antonio). Ouch! I guess one gets used to it. 🙂

  • Reply Claire |

    Matt…you never get used to the heat. In fact, I’ve already started the internal dialogue of dread because summer will be here in about 2 weeks. I grew up in a small town right b/w SA and Austin and the heat is just getting worse for me as time goes by! I hope to avoid an entire summer of complaining about the heat and the $300-$500 utility bill. Actually, this year we might be hanging out at the mall…NOT to shop…but to save on utilities! Colorado is where I would move tomorrow if given the opportunity. My brother has a home in Estes Park and is very generous with letting us borrow it. Your state is gorgeous!

So, what do you think ?