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Posts tagged with: lifestyle

Matt’s Debt Introduction


Note: Matt has put together this introductory post in his quest to become the next blogger on BAD. Feel free to make comments or ask questions on what he’s written. More information about the new blogger position can be found here

Hi! My name is Matt and I’d like to start by telling the world why I want out of this debt-ridden lifestyle: I hate the financial prison it’s held me in since graduating from college in 2009. My reason for being out of debt is primarily for selfish reasons (until I have a wife and potential family); I would love the freedom of knowing I have more options than living a “9-5”, “5 day a week” lifestyle for 40+ years before retiring and only then realizing I would be too old to enjoy it. That being said, I enjoy what I do and love my employer, which at least makes my debt burden a little lighter.

I graduated from college, with a BS in mechanical engineering, into one of the worst job markets this economy has ever seen. Thankfully, I was able to find a position in the public sector (only 1/2 my graduating class could say they found a job in our field immediately upon graduation, and some still haven’t). Unfortunately, this is where most of my debt lies- from a higher education that may or may not have been worth the price of admission. I currently have ~87K in student loans, which are down from the ~110K I started with. I have since switched positions to the private sector (bringing home $3,200 a month), bought a (used) car, bought some furniture on a credit card (paid off) and took on a mortgage. I owe ~10.5K on the car and ~71.5K on the mortgage.

The burden I put on myself didn’t hit me until my first payment on the student loans came due and while I was doing what I could to pay off my debts as quickly as I could on my minimal government salary, I fought (for the better part of two years) with the realization that it all could have been avoided. I could have paid attention to the money I was “spending” and went to a state school. I could have not gone to school at all. I also spent the last 4 years on a financial roller coaster either paying off debt, quickly, with little regard of anything or anyone else and spending money as if a pending apocalypse were approaching (to an extent. I don’t use credit cards so I could only spend the cash I had in various accounts.) But now, knowing there’s 1,000’s of young adults in the same position as myself, I own my debt and I’m not afraid of telling anyone who’s willing to listen of my situation. I’ve always felt honesty is the best policy- I use this in my day job and I would use it here.

I currently live in a small metropolitan with low living costs with my wonderful girlfriend of 1.5 yrs (we met on OK Cupid) and our ‘children’- 2 of the most loving, wonderful rescue dogs in the world. In my spare time I love outdoor activities including surfing, mountain biking, longboarding, and golf and love playing my guitar (which I do everyday). Debt tracking and budgeting have also quickly become some of my favorite things to do. Watching those debt totals fall may be the closest to nirvana I’ll ever come.

I became inspired in September after reading BAD, Mr. Money Mustache, and Man vs. Debt to get rid of debt for good, come hell or high water. Since my epiphany, I’ve paid off 5K of debt, built an emergency fund of 5K and increased my net worth by 15K. I’m hoping that I can build even more steam with the help I’ll get here.

Stephannie’s Debt Introduction


Note: Stephannie has taken the time to provided the following post to show why she thinks she would be a good blogger for BAD. Take the time to read her story, then ask any relevant questions that you might have. This is part of our attempt to find the newest blogger for BAD. You can find more information about it here

My name is Stephannie, I am 33 years old and my husband and I suffer from debt regret. I can’t say that it’s always been this way. I had no problems with debt when I first started to accumulate it but, more on that later. Let’s do background first. When I was growing up finances were not something of which my parents spoke. I don’t ever remember hearing about a household budget. It was absolutely taboo to mention how much you made and you never, I mean NEVER asked someone questions about their income or their financial situation. My mom was always very frugal but my dad had no problem spending money, especially if what you were spending the money on was fun. I don’t remember them ever discussing finances within earshot of my brother and I. What we heard was ” We can’t afford that” from my mother and “You only live once, right?” from my father. Needless to say, by the time I got to college I wasn’t exactly prepared.

My debt story truly began when I started college. Luckily, my parents paid my tuition so that I wouldn’t have to take out any student loans. I worked part time to pay for books and other necessary things that I needed for school. The problem with this arrangement was that if all of my money went to gas, books, and supplies then how on earth could I pay for important things like clothes and going out? It did not take long to find a solution to that problem. One glorious day as I walked through the campus courtyard I saw a table set up that was giving away t shirts. Who doesn’t love a free t shirt, right? Well, there was a catch of course. In order to get the shirt you had to fill out an application for a credit card. I swear bells rang and angels sang. Not only could I get a free shirt but, I could also get a magical card that would buy clothes that weren’t even close to being free. Let’s just say it didn’t take long for that card to start smoking from overuse.

Once I was introduced to the fabulous world of credit cards I basically lost my mind. The first one was so easy to get that it was closely followed by a second and then a third. It was completely doable to only pay the minimums and I was living a fantastic, carefree, well dressed life. A couple of years into college I met a wonderful young man. Three months later we were married. It’s pretty safe to say that we were not financially prepared. We did not even talk about our personal finances until a few months after we were married. It then became clear that while we were both sharp dressers and excellent accumulators of fabulous “stuff” we were not exactly money managing geniuses.

The early years of our marriage were not exactly spent living large. Between the two of us we made about $22,000 a year. I had a monthly car note of $250 and we rented an apartment from my parents for $250 per month. Our combined credit card debt was about $6,000. With all of this information in mind I’m sure you can see that for us, the next logical thing to do was to have a baby. It’s really amazing to me how two relatively intelligent young people can make such terrible decisions. Ah, youth. Anyway, our first daughter was born in 2002 and in our infinite wisdom we decided that I would quit my job and stay home with the baby. This lasted for exactly one year.

Through the next couple of years my husband and I worked, paid bills, raised our daughter, and paid some more bills. It’s funny, I can distinctly remember thinking that if either of us were to ever make at least $20 per hour then we would be free of our money worries. Doesn’t sound like marriage and a baby made me much smarter, does it? In 2005 my mom and dad sold us a rental property that they had owned for many years (it was actually their first home and we lived in it until I was about 10). They were generous enough to sell it to us at a price well below market value and also allowed us to live with them for a year while we put every penny we had into renovating it. Because it was such a great deal my husband and I thought it was a good idea to take a loan out for more than the price of the house so that we could pay off our other debts which, of course, had just gotten higher. Woohoo, debt free!!! Nope. We were debt free for all of about 2 months before we took out a couple of loans, put some more purchases on credit cards and bought a more expensive vehicle. I swear we are smarter than we sound.

In 2005 my husband interviewed for a great company and if hired would be paid about $15,000 more a year than he currently earned. We got the phone call in July with the job offer and in November I was pregnant with our second daughter. We carried on for about two years with little changes in our debt. Our lifestyle “improved” significantly but, we felt like having debt was just the way things were done so we made no efforts to get rid of it.

I feel like this is getting terribly long so, I’ll cut to the chase here, and if chosen I’ll go into more detail at a later date. After a few years of living in the house we bought from my parents a house came up for sale in their neighborhood. We bought it and turned our first house into a rental. Our debt currently consists of two mortgages, 4 credit cards, one vehicle loan, one furniture loan, and one signature loan at our credit union. We also have a decent amount of medical bills due to some health problems my husband has had over the last year.

A little over a year ago I started to feel like getting out of debt was the best, and more importantly, the right thing to do. When I first started to feel this way I started to look up any blogs I could find that were written by people dealing with the daily struggles of paying off their debt and becoming debt free. That is when I found Blogging Away Debt. When Claire decided to stop blogging I really wanted to put my name in the running but, I was hesitant because I felt like we have made so many mistakes when it comes to our finances. Now that another opportunity has come up I don’t want to let it pass me by. There is still a lot I don’t know about how to reduce our debt in a smart way but with all of my research I’m learning new things all the time. I think it would be so good for me to share what we are dealing with and to get feedback from others who may see things in a way that we have not thought of.

Oh, and just one more important piece of the puzzle. We live in the south and my husband works full time and makes well over that magical number of $20 an hour. I ran my own business for 3 years but, 6 months ago I went back to work full time so that we could try to really put a dent in this debt. Needless to say, my younger self’s thoughts about money worries not existing if we were to make at least $20 an hour turned out to not be true. I’m sure you are totally shocked.

I would rather not get into hard numbers until after a decision about the new recruit has been made but, I will say that our total debt is around the $200,000 mark. This does include both mortgages, we feel like they were both good purchases from an investment stand point and about a year ago we refinanced them both for 15 years at much better interest rates. We also have a home which we have recently (2 months ago) inherited. While we do not owe anything on it, it is costing us a bit in upkeep and we have yet to decide what to do with it.

I’m so glad I got a chance to do this and if I’m chosen, Yay! If not I’ll be so excited to see what the next person has to say but until then, please feel free to ask any questions you may have!