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A Honest and Raw Look Back

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I would have celebrated my 17th wedding anniversary this past weekend. And I think I’ve finally gotten far enough away from it and healed enough and moved on to look back with a more honest and open assessment.

I’ve always said I lived my life with no regrets. I would take whatever came and accept it – good or bad. I’d say I learned from it and accept it as part of life. But no regrets.

But the reality is…I do have regrets. With some time to look back, and the guts to do so more honestly then I ever have…I do have regrets. And quite a few, and more than that. I am realizing that I have not always learned from them…

Big Financial Mistakes

I thought I would share some of them that have had some major financial affects on me…and maybe if someone else stumbles upon this blog, they won’t repeat them.

  1. Do not finance someone else’s car, even if they are your spouse. And especially when your marriage is rocky or abusive like mine was. Believe me, you can buy someone’s love or your own safety by putting their car in your name. You will just be left holding the bag when you finally get the guts to leave.
  2. Hire an attorney for any divorce. No matter how amicable or broke you may be or seem. Just do it. Hire an expert and lay everything out. Don’t be a smarty pants like I was and assume you can do it yourself for a measly $75. I mean, you can, and you will get divorced. But again, you will be screwed financially!
  3. Spoil your kids with love and your time and a combination of the two. They do not need stuff. They won’t remember stuff. And it won’t make them love you more. Or less if they don’t have the stuff. In fact, it will probably teach them to value things differently.
  4. Buy a car that works for you, whatever you needs may be. Newer if you are scared of cars breaking down. Older if you know how to maintain it yourself. Big enough for your family. But whatever you buy, stick to it. Pay it off, maintain it and just stick to it. So much better than the route I have taken in second guessing myself, getting out of the auto mess with my ex husband (see #1) and more. (Oh, and definitely keep full coverage insurance just in case you have a wreck that totals your car.)
  5. Take care of yourself. Not just your health, but definitely that too. But give yourself a break, learn to forgive yourself for your screw ups. Give yourself grace. Learn to rest and not run yourself ragged. (You definitely make worse decisions when you are stressed and tired.) Make sure to give yourself some “treat” money, even in the tightest times. I’m not saying go crazy, but even $5 for an ice cream or a pack of gum.

In conclusion, I think this is the first year since my marriage ended 13ish years ago that I have really looked back. Allowed regret to wash over me. Really took some responsibility for my bad, really terrible decisions. And I’m still in the middle of it, the angst and awakening. I can’t go backwards, I can’t fix my royal screw ups.

But I am now in the place where I can own them. Rather, I will own them. And face tomorrow and each day a little strong, a little wiser. Hopefully others can learn from my mistakes. I am not going to wallow in the shame they cause me, but I am going to do better.


Which states have the highest debt rates?

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It can be difficult to compare who has the highest debt state to state, province to province. Why? Well, the cost of living is a huge aspect. Cost of living can make or break your financial portfolio. Some of you may remember me mentioning I don’t want to be living in Toronto in five years. One bedroom apartments here. My dad bought a huge lakefront house two hours outside of Toronto for the cost of a bachelor condo in Toronto (about $450k CAD). This is an example of where I think Hope has the right idea – she works remotely and doesn’t live in a crazy expensive area like San Francisco or NYC. I dream about working remotely and getting out of the expensive city!

So where is debt highest across the US?

Debt ranges wildly from region to region. And surprisingly, to me at least, the wealthier states have higher debt to income ratios!

Source: Credit Karma

 

Source: Credit Karma

There are a lot of ways to analyze these numbers. According to InCharge Debt Solutions, the southern US is the place with the highest number of bankruptcies, with Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama leading the US. The highest credit card debt can be found on the east coast, with Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, and New York all ranking in the top ten for highest card balances. The average Californian carries $10, 175 in credit card debt, but Californians tend to have higher salaries as well. One wonders why they aren’t paying their cards off.

It’s clear there are geographic trends. States with higher salaries and cost of living also carry higher personal debt loads. Are people racking up consumer debt trying to keep up with the Jones? Is it considered justifiable to have an $800/month car payment when you have a big salary to match? And the question stumping me is why does no one seem to save up for anything any longer? The de facto thinking seems to be that cars, vacations, computers for work and school – these are things we finance. Gratification now, payments for the next seven years.

How does Canada stack up?

While doing some research for this post, I learned something alarming about my fellow countrymen and women. Canadians create $1.79 in debt for every dollar we make.

Source

Canada largely avoided the 2008 global recession. We prided ourselves in our strong banks and tight regulations. But our federal interest rate remained so low for so long (0.25% during and after the recession, and even in 2017, it was still 0.5%) and that sparked a huge increase in borrowing. Lending rates are finally going up now, with the benchmark rate at 1.75%. Delinquencies are also on the rise. According to BNN Bloomberg, Canada’s household debt to GDP is 100.2% whereas the US is 76.4% – you win this one, Americans!

Where do we go from here?

In summary, it’s not just how you live, but WHERE you live, that can impact your financial health. Cost of living, earning potential, and spending trends all contribute, but ultimately, you can control your debt burden. Save your money, budget accordingly, and try not to borrow for things you don’t need. Saving money is the best thing I learned to do in 2019, and I hope to carry this habit through my whole life.

And I, for one, will continue to plan my escape from the highest cost of living city.