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Posts tagged with: advice

Coming out of the ‘Debt Closet’


A reader recently e-mailed and asked how I told my family about my debt problem.

Here is a warning – you may not like my answer.

Let me explain…

I didn’t have a lot of debt when my husband and I married. He brought in some pretty large chunks of debt and collections that were ‘inherited’ from someone else. Since I had never dealt with lines of credit or collections, I sought the advice of my parents for a problem solving strategy.

They suggested I pay off the debt as quickly as possible, negotiate with the collections company, and move on with my life.

Being the mature, reasonable adult I was, I promptly ignored them. Then, wisely, since I was already drowning in debt, frustrated, and hurt, I bought a brand spanking new car and took several trips to Hawaii.

When you have lots of debt, you get to a point where you simply give up. To the reader who e-mailed me, I’ve been exactly where you are right now and I’m getting to the other side – alive and breathing.

When I finally came to my senses in late 2008 and started to make efforts to fix the problem, my parents already knew I was a financial idiot. I think they were just waiting for me to raise my hand and ask for help. They never got angry and never made me feel bad about myself. I’m very fortunate to have a great set of parents. In short, unless you are REALLY REALLY good, you parents and family probably already know.

As for the exact words I used? You read them with my parents. Yup, I ‘came out’ on this blog.

If you need help with ideas on how to fix more serious issues in finances, ask for it. Then, save the grief, listen, and take action.

Here’s the part you won’t like. Only ask for advice and support, don’t ask for money.

Dave Ramsey is right. When money exchanges hands in families, Thanksgiving dinner will never taste the same. I can tell you that from personal experience.

You made the mess. Clean it up.

Financial waffling…


I’ve been struggling with my decision to travel to Italy with my family. The cash for the trip is sitting in a separate account but I see the total pop up every time I log in to my online banking. It’s tempting to cancel the trip and pull out the cash to pay off my husband’s truck.

This weekend, I was able to spend time with my grandmother and she asked if I had any big plans for the year. I told her about the Italy trip but mentioned I was considering not going. She said, ‘You HAVE to go’ with more force than I could have expected from an 89 year old woman.

After dinner we sat to talk and she shared a story I had never heard before. My grandmother had always planned to travel with my grandfather. In their youth, work obligations and five children made that dream impossible. She figured they would go when the children were grown and out of the house. My grandfather started to show signs of Alzheimer’s in his forties and by his retirement years the disease had taken over and her dreams of traveling with the man she loved were gone.

‘Don’t ever assume you can go later. Listen to the wisdom of an old lady. Go now.’ She said emphatically.

She gave me the rare chance to look at things through the eyes of my future. When I’m 89, will I look back and say, ‘I wish I hadn’t gone to Italy and had paid off debt 3 months faster instead!’?

I think not.

So, I’m moving forward with my decision to go. Irresponsible? Yes. Will I waffle over the decision for 3 more months? Yup. But…

Will I regret it? No.