by Jeffrey Shain
Note: This is the introduction written by Mandi about her debt to be the next BAD blogger. Take the time to comment or ask questions about her debt journey. This is part of the process to find a new BAD blogger which you can find out more about here
My name is Mandi, and I am debt! It is a secret from everyone, because I appear to be very in control most of the time. I grew up with very financially responsible parents, and I did not have debt of my own until I got married. My husband had about $20,000 in debt when we married, and we paid this all off in a few years. We then saved $20,000 before having children so that I could stay home. I stayed home until my son was 3, and then I went back to work.
Unfortunately, while I wasn’t working, we didn’t cut back too much and burned through all the savings and racked up incredible debt. Our current debt includes credit cards with balances of $3,000, $11,000, and $6,000. We also have a home equity loan of $31,000 and a loan from my parents for $3500. We have recently been able to pay off balances on other cards, so this is not our starting point. Our take-home pay is $6100 per month.
We also bought an older home while I wasn’t working. Our mortgage is inexpensive, but since it is older, we had many unexpected repairs (new HVAC and new ductwork, anyone?), and there are, of course, cosmetic changes that I would really like to make. Making our home inviting is very important to me, and I struggle with paying off debt versus making lasting changes in our home. This and travelling are our two top issues with saving versus spending. I don’t mean extravagant trips, either. Even a weekend at a nearby beach is no drop in the bucket for a family of 4.
In addition to paying off all that debt, I also want to replace the savings we’ve spent and increase our savings in other areas like 401(k)s, etc. I struggle with how to prioritize each item. I would really benefit from the advice that readers here provide, and I need people to call me on my “justified” expenses like new paint, light fixture, furnishings, etc.
I think it would be beneficial to post how much money has been spent each week (and if it was me or my husband). When I even THINK of doing that, I cringe at the items I would put down and not look at twice because I would have to justify the expense to everyone. This includes items at the grocery store. In some areas I feel we are very frugal, but objectively, I know that we probably aren’t. I only feel that way because I am comparing myself to others in my social circle.
I showed my husband the blog, and he is interested, especially in me contributing, but I don’t know how that translates to his involvement. He is very supportive, and he mostly listens when I express concerns about debt, but he does not want to get granular. In fact, he does not even know how to check any of our balances, including our checking account! He does not spend a lot of money on “things,” though, so it might not be as challenging as I think it could be.
I would love the opportunity to share more, answer questions, and start contributing to the site, so thank you for reading!