9 Reasons Why You Need an Emergency Fund

9 reasons

When I say “emergency” you say “fun”… Emergency!… no?  Nothing?  Since the dawn of time people have been messing up, making mistakes, falling down stairs, wrecking cars, feeding the dog a Hershey’s bar, and putting holes in their roofs.  Okay, maybe not the last one but these situations would all make up a barrel full of emergency fun.  Some people have more barrels than others, but we can all admit that everyone has a barrel.  “Stuff” is going to happen.  I’m going to be a little proactive with the “stuff” and not pretend it doesn’t exist.  Only way to combat an overflow of emergency fun is an emergency fund.

  1. It is going to happen.

We can budget until the cows come home from their weekend in Cabo, but disaster will still strike on our finances.  I like to plan what I will spend my money on, but without a crystal ball or Delorean then knowing when a semi-truck tire is going to fly off and hit my car is a bit tough.  Can’t fight the inevitable, it is going to happen.

  1. Peace of mind

When I had a big test the next day in college it was hard to sleep if I knew that I didn’t study and wasn’t prepared.  How did you ever sleep the night before tests you ask?  Don’t worry I got over it quickly, but the point is still the same.  Having a plan in place is better than “winging” it.  $1000 in the bank as oppose to $0 in the bank will allow me to sleep like a little baby.  I have enough to worry about.

  1. Gain momentum

I have saved $1000?  Well then that means I’m actually doing it.  I have committed to a lifestyle change just enough that it is no longer an idea in my head, but I am one step closer to paying all my debt off.  It won’t be easy by any means, but at the same time sparks the ‘I can actually do this’ attitude.

  1. Keep momentum

I hate when I stub my toe.  I wish I would stub my toe on a pillow or a cat, but rather it always seems to be a wall.  No give or leniency when it come to the toe vs wall matchup.  If I am paying off debt and my car breaks down, without an emergency fund everything comes to a complete stop.  No give or leniency.  Flip side, an emergency fund allows me to fix the car, continue to pay debt, and keep on truckin’ (or sedanin’)

  1. No crutch, no problem

When I was little I would run to my mommy if I scraped my knee.  She would fix it, or at least make it good enough to go back outside and keep playing.  She fixed the problem so the decision was easy.  I got in a similar habit when something unexpected would come up.  I would briskly walk (not run) to my wallet and pull out the credit card.  I “fixed” the problem or at least made it better for the time being.  An emergency fund breaks that bad habit and saves me from ever briskly walking again.

  1. Murphy

Ever heard of Murphy’s Law?  It is not a real law, kind of like the speed limit, but applies to the frequency of emergencies.  Life likes to kick you when you are down.  One car broke down that I can’t afford to fix? Boom, make it both cars.  Problems didn’t and won’t go away the second an emergency fund exists, but I believe suddenly life isn’t as concerned with ruining your life.  Call it magic.

  1. Forward thinking

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  Always loved that question in an interview.  Quick answer: “your boss”.  Planning and thinking long-term is never a bad thing.  When I plan for the unplanned it quickly switches my thinking from the now to the then.  Today’s problem can stay in that day and cannot affect what I do moving forward.

  1. Again…

Just had to remind myself.  An emergency is going to come up.  Not just once, but Cyndi Lauper style.  Time after Time.

  1. Problem, not money problem

No one did the emergency fun cheer at the beginning because emergencies aren’t fun.  They are stressful and sometimes scary.  An emergency fund lessens the blow.  Instead of worrying about the issue and money, when little Billy breaks his arm we can care for little Billy the best we know how instead of duct taping his arm to a 2×4 because we are worried about medical bills.

I’m not trying to sell insurance, but this is insurance.  $1000 saved up, and set away for emergencies.  That’s it.  You can’t afford to not take this advice.  No really, you can’t.

This Budgets For You…

Budget

I have all the motivation I need.  I have heard the pep-talk and ready to take on the opponent.  Almost ready.  I do need a bit of a gameplan.  I wish there was some magic formula to making debt disappear something fun to do.  Unfortunately the only way to be successful with eliminating debt is to make a budget.  Debt is for sure a four letter word in my book, but the word budget makes me cringe almost as much.  Making a budget is worse than watching paint dry underwater.  A budget means I don’t get to go to see a movie, get a large popcorn, large soda, and a big box of Butterfinger every single weekend.  I don’t get to spend money how I want.  Then again, spending money how I want got me in this little pickle didn’t it?  A budget may be boring but it is essential.  Anyone that has even scratched the surface with attempting to get out of debt knows that every expert says to make a budget.  I want to briefly explain the must-haves in the budget, and then focus more on my little tidbits that might help along the way.

A budget is basically telling your money where to go.  The second that paycheck hits your bank account, it already has a destination.  There is no mystery to where this money will go, even if your pay fluctuates paycheck to paycheck.  If $1000 is made per paycheck, I want to have no money in the account after I pay what I need to pay and buy what I need to buy.  That is the whole principle behind the budget.  I can only spend what I make.  Weird conclusion, if I follow that principle, it is impossible for my debt to grow.  I could list a bunch of steps on how to actually fill out a budget, but there are hundreds of resources on how to do that.  What I want to do is share things I have learned so far that have helped me keep this train rolling.

 

Plan For It All

Of course when making a budget I had to add housing, gas, groceries, and the list can go on and on of things that I need monthly or even sooner than that.  It is critical for me to have such things in the budget.  I can pretty easily sit down and look at what I spend money on over the course of a month.  Great starter is to take a look at my bank account.  Each month I’m going to need this or have to pay that bill.  Piece of cake.  What I overlooked initially, is the long term things that I know I’m going to need.  I don’t need an oil change or even new tires each month, but eventually I will.  I don’t want to have an ‘awesome’  budget just to have worn down tires and empty pockets.  Plan long term.  If I want a new cell phone every two years and my cell phone bill is usually $150, well then I’ll set the budget at $170 per month.  Come new phone time, I’m ready to buy that new phone with money waiting in the wings.  I had to sit down and list everything I possibly could, but also knowing it’s a running list.  Taking a few days to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

 

Be Real

I wanted to get rid of debt so bad I made a bit of a mistake.  When making the budget, I wanted to spend as little money as possible so every extra penny went towards debt.  I wasn’t realistic.  I thought I could live off of hardly any grocery money eating ice cubes and salt packets.  That quickly turned into going home to a bare pantry and next thing I knew I was ordering a pizza.  Even if I was strong willed, I need to make each section of the budget realistic.  I can’t budget $15 a month for ‘eating out’ if I’m going to grab subway once a week.  Okay yes my weakness is food.  Or more the fact of making and cleaning food up at the house.  The act of actually following a budget has put me worlds ahead of my spending habits before, so I can’t try and overdue it and burn out by week two.

 

Check Check Save

First of all, I hope it is a good assumption that everyone has banks that are linked online.  Having the ability to look at bank statements, transactions, and more online.  With that being said, I have found its easiest to have two checking accounts and one savings account.  The savings one is easy.  This will house any savings I have along with my emergency fund.  That’s it.  I don’t mess with this beyond that.  Where it is beneficial to have two checking accounts (and two separate debit cards), it allows the budget to be broken up into rolling and non-rolling.  House payment, car payment, car insurance, etc are all payments that aren’t going to move.  I know the exact amount that is due down to the penny each month.  When I know that, I can load this checking account up with that specific amount of money and know when I pay or that amount gets drafted I am all set.  The other account would be for rolling items.  Gas, groceries, and even my electric bill fall under rolling.  I have a great idea of how much I need for these things, but the amount is not always to the exact penny.  This checking account should always have a fluctuating amount of money.  If I have $200 budgeted for gas and only spend $175, then the extra will just stay in this account until next month where I will have $225 for gas.  With the separate accounts it allows for easier tracking of the money.  Rolling accounts take effort to stay current on how much money each category has, but there are tools to help with this.

 

Technology

Why crunch the numbers when a calculator can do it for me?  Along with online banking, I got the bank’s app on my phone.  Going a step further, I downloaded a free app that allows me to set up a budget.  Tracks my spending and even allows me to set up rolling accounts with updated totals for each category.  There is nothing wrong with using the ol’ pencil and paper, but what I truly enjoy is having all this information with me at all times.  Even another step further, my wife and I use an app to plan meals so we aren’t going to the grocery hungry and leaving with a grocery receipt that touches the floor.  Anything that helps keep me more accountable then I am all for it.  I’m pretty sure even Zack Morris did his budget on his cell phone, so why not use my resources?

 

1%

This is a rule that I like to follow.  Mathematically it is simple.  I want to build 1% of my debt into the budget.  After paying all the minimum payments towards all my bills and what not, I want to be putting at least 1% extra towards that per month.  Let’s do a simple one.  If my debt was $50,000, then monthly I would want to be putting $500 above minimum payments.  This seems like a lot, but without building in money to allocate towards the debt it will take far too long to pay it off.  Without factoring interest, that means that debt would be paid in 100 months.  This is the baseline.  When I get any extra money that month, or a tax refund or something of that sort I would also throw it at the debt.  Just 1%.

 

Adjust and Apply

The first budget I made was not perfect.  I’m still making tweaks and changes to it now.  Every month I see different habits forming or different categories that are a little unrealistic.  Point is, the budget is always changing.  By changing I don’t mean switching the numbers around so I can get shiny new roller-skates instead of paying part of my electric bill.  Rather, it is something that needs looked at monthly.  Keeps the eyes on prize.  With that being said, I ultimately choose my intensity.  How crazy am I about this debt?  I don’t want to give myself a budget that basically is free spending.  If the budget isn’t making me a little mad, then I did it wrong.  How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?  The bigger the lick, the fewer the licks needed.

 

 

Can’t Hurt to Ask Part II

blog 4 photo

What is the other half to why I want this debt gone?  If I am swimming on the surface, then it is obvious that without debt I will have a lot more money.  If I plug my nose and hold my breath to swim a little deeper, I am starting to find the freedom and results that come from having no debt.  As I type, I am wearing a pair of slippers that the all-inclusive resort “provided” for us.  They are white with a sewn-in golden outline of a seashell on them.  They aren’t particularly comfortable and really I’m not a slipper kind of guy, but they come with memories.  I appreciate how they keep my feet remotely warm, but they are more of a reminder how I would prefer to be barefoot.  Barefoot in the sand with no need for anything to keep me warm but the sun.  Relaxing vacations.  Answer and motivation to the first question “what do I truly enjoy”?   Being able to spend and enjoy time with the woman I love.  Answer and motivation to the second question, “what relationship(s) do I want to improve”?  Pretty simple really.  When I eliminate a negative, it usually is replaced with a positive.  The more distractions I can get rid of, the better I can focus on the relationships around me.  The worry of money is one of the biggest distractions a close relationship has to face.  The idea of worry and stress being completely gone is motivation enough.

 

In  a.) The next couple years  b.) 30 years from now…

What could I be doing without debt?

Instead of breaking the questions into two, let’s mush them up.  The answers are endless right?  Initially I start to crunch the numbers in my head.  How many monthly dollars am I giving a lender?  When that number pops up on the calculator, I’m first a little shocked and embarrassed.  After a few minutes I realize that’s a big chunk of change.  Money like that can change the way you live.  I don’t feel that I am poor, but when I am honest with myself I realize I am basically living paycheck to paycheck.  I live comfortable and always have food on the table, but I never seem to be making any traction.  I am treading water.  When I am treading water, and can’t see an end to the treading anytime soon, I don’t have the freedom to swim laps, slide down the slide, and play Marco Polo.  I’m so restricted to staying in that one spot, trying to swim laps could tire me out and ultimately have me sink to the bottom.  No wiggle room.  I like wiggle room.

Debt limits my creativity.  It keeps my dreams far-off goals, that would happen only if I hit the lottery.  Doing what I want to do will only happen if I get lucky, but with debt I have no control over that.  I am pretty sure most people have come up with some crazy idea for an invention or business idea.  Some great and some probably pretty dumb, but how many have actually pursued it?  I have come up with some ideas over time, although nothing groundbreaking, I never put the wheels in motion because “I don’t have the money/time for that”.  Do I think that I would be a millionaire by now if I had had the money to pursue those ideas?  Not a chance.  At the same time, I wish I had the freedom and the wiggle room in my life to take that chance.  Have enough wiggle room to at least take it to the next step.  Debt restricts me from taking that chance.  Debt kills the mood and excitement.  This debt party is lame.

I want debt gone because I want to control my future.  If I know that I have to feed the beast, I don’t have flexibility in how I earn the meals.  Debt never stops eating.  It doesn’t care if I like my job, make enough at my job, or even lose my job.  It will continually stand there with an empty stomach.  I want debt gone because instead of feeding someone else all the time, I want to keep some of my hard work.  I have gotten so used to making monthly payments for “stuff”, it has become easy and comfortable.  How about instead of continually feeding debt a little at a time for the rest of my life, I start shoving food down its throat.  Don’t give it time to breathe or even swallow, but just keep feeding it more and more.  I may not have a lot on my plate, but eventually that debt is going to burst.  Then what happens when I make all that food?  It’s mine to decide who eats, and how much.

No two people are going to have the exact same motivations for why they want debt gone.  For me, a.) I want to start a family with my wife debt free.  And b.) I eventually want to be my own boss, and make a difference in people’s lives through my career.

Answering four simple questions has allowed me to have something to look back to.  Something to think about when I see a really nice TV at Best Buy.  Something to keep me accountable with myself as I daily have to make the choice to be debt free.  A lot of times in life it seems like the right decisions are the hard decisions, but those right decisions always have reasons.  Going forward, I get to use these four answers as ammunition to why I am living outside the norm.  Some days picturing kids running around the house is what gets me motivated and keeps me on the debt-free path.  Today, what is keeping me going, is a pair of white slippers with a gold seashell on the top.

Can’t Hurt to Ask…

Money question

I get burnt way too easy.  SPF 45 is a minimum.  Every trip to the beach/pool ends with me in pain.  Only thing I can do is turn to the bottle.  The big bottle of green goop; Aloe Vera.  I hate laying out, salt water is salty, lots of half-naked people that should be a little more modest, and many other reasons that make up why I love to be in the sun.  Wait, what?  I love warm weather.  Vacation to a tropical place where I have zero obligations is my perfect day.  My honeymoon took place at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, and last March I went on a cruise with my wife and a couple of good friends.  I’m not going to list the benefits or reasons why these type of vacations are awesome, just take me at my word.  Not skiing, hiking, camping, knitting, bowling, fishing, collecting, dancing, hunting.  Do I enjoy those things?  Sure.  But if I am planning a trip, I’m going somewhere with a hot sun, water to jump in, lots of food, and food to go with my food.  Shoot, I would be in a place just like that if it weren’t for the costs.  The money.  Trips like these aren’t cheap.  I have decided to pay down debt and stop adding to it, so a trip like this will have to wait.  Just wait.  Be on hold for a bit.  My love for relaxing vacations becomes a motivating factor in wanting to be even more intentional about getting this debt gone.  If no debt translates to a nose caked in SPF 45 and a fanny pack full of fun, then sign me up.

 

I don’t think anyone would say they like debt.  Its tolerated but not liked.  Last entry I talked about the perspective and view I had to look at debt in order to decide that I wanted it gone.  I needed to see debt as wrong.  That mindset allowed me to do a 180.  I’m no longer looking at a number that continues to grow in the wrong direction but rather I am facing the journey where the end result is freedom from debt.  Now that I am facing the right direction, what is going to make me take step after step towards that goal.  Aspiring Olympians want a gold medal.  Their whole life is devoted to doing whatever they have to, no matter the sacrifice, to accomplish the goal of hanging the medal around their neck.  I had to decide what my gold medal was.  What is motivating me?  What am I so passionate about that will keep me from giving up, and going back to living a “normal” life?  Having motivation for any type of goal helps tremendously in reaching that goal, but I had to ask the right questions to allow multiple points to continuously be prodding me along this journey.  I’m not saving up to buy a cool Lego set.  I had to ask questions (4 to be exact) that not only pulled at the heart strings, but got a little tangled so giving up would be not only be hard but painful.

1.     What do I truly enjoy?

This one was simple.  I have gone above and beyond to spell this one out.  I love relaxing, don’t’-have-to-do-a-thing, warm vacations.  At the surface this question is easily looked at and answered.  I have debt and no money for fancy vacations.  In order to have money for my style of vacations I have to get rid of debt.  No debt means more money and then I can go on a vacation.  Perfect.  I understand I’m skipping saving, retirement, and other things before I would/should spend a few thousand on a vacation and frankly I am on that page with you.  Ignore that for a second.  I want debt gone because I want to enjoy a vacation without worry about the money being spent.  Vacation takes me away from work and all the stresses that go along with life in general.  The idea is to escape away from all that for a week or so at a time, but do we ever truly escape?  Worrying about spending too much money or having to cut back on vacation to afford the vacation.  What?!  No debt means being able to pay cash for this vacation, and not coming back to a ‘bill’.  I realize that what I truly enjoy might be more expensive (or less expensive) than other people but any situation can apply.  A fishing trip, dancing lessons, camping, and the list can go on and on.  What escapes humans from reality costs money.  I’m motivated to get rid of debt now so I’m not taking a trip I can’t afford every few years, but rather taking a trip yearly that is paid in cash.

2.     What relationship(s) do I want to improve?

I remember when life was simple and running out of blue Kool-Aid was my worry for the day.  Life happened, and sadly most people are in the cycle of making money to pay for “stuff”.  This cycle is never ending, whether the stuff is bills, a house, car, etc.  Money is a big deal so the people I come into contact with and have relationships with are affected with how I manage my money.  For me (and all that are married/dating) my wife is most impacted by how I manage money, and same goes for me being impacted on how she manages money.  We have disagreements on what we want to have for dinner, but the main arguments we have stem from money.  The types of money arguments range from  big purchases to where money should be allocated in the first place.  It is not my place to specifically tell people where to designate their money to, but personally it was less about breaking down each little purchase and more about finding common ground.  Imagine not only being on the same page, but writing the story together one letter at a time.  Find common goals.  My wife and I have decided that we do not want to have kids until we are debt free (except the house).  Originally our goal was to start trying once our credit cards and medical bills were paid off, but once we started this process of working together, that goal changed.  Instead of ignoring and avoiding our most popular argument topic, we finally attacked it as a team.  In a few short months the results with our money have been exciting but the results with our relationship have been amazing.  We get a taste of the freedom and relief that will be felt having no debt.  We are excited to someday start a family and argue about who gets to change the next diaper (she does) instead of how we are going to pay for those diapers.  When we talked about life after the finish line, it made eating out less now a little easier.  Life isn’t about money, but rather the relationships we have.  I couldn’t let money, or lack of, control my relationships.  Happiness can’t be bought, but I’ve quickly found out that it can’t be borrowed either.

 

Questions 3 & 4 to follow.

 

Debt Journey Update:

 

Yesterday we made the last payment towards our credit cards.  We didn’t get the satisfaction of sending in that final check due to everything being electronic, but the result is all the same.  In fact, I’m still waiting for the two payments to post and see that 0.00 remaining balance.  With some cut backs, my wife working overtime, and already receiving the federal portion of our tax return, we were able to knock this out a lot quicker than expected.  I am blessed.  Next up is medical bills.  July is the goal.  Such a small amount off the huge mountain of debt, but an enormous win along the way.  I’m still in lots of debt, and I still invite you to join in this journey.

My Debt Isn’t Gray Anymore

Check out post #1 if you haven’t already.  Enjoy.

 

I took Business Ethics in college.  Why? That mystery has yet to be solved.  I didn’t need to pay a couple thousand dollars for a professor with an above average goatee to tell me what is right and wrong.  I already knew, with most things in life they are either black or white.  Or gray of course.  Most decisions I make in life aren’t as clear-cut as I would like them to be.  Would I steal food to feed my starving family?  Would I steal the only cure for a rare disease to keep someone I loved alive?  I have heard these little predicaments growing up trying to further explain ethical decisions.  If I choose to take a pack of gum from the corner drug store.  Scratch that this isn’t the 1950’s.    If I choose to take ten dollars from my mom’s purse or if I choose to rob a bank, both are wrong and although may be at different levels, are going to weigh to a certain degree on my conscience.  Bad decisions are bad.  If I do something wrong, I’m going to a.) Feel bad about it b.) Regret that decision c.) Get some type of punishment for that action and d.) A combination of some or all of the above.  Like I said, and believe we can all agree with, bad decisions are bad.  What is right and what is wrong goes back to the whole black, white, and gray problem.  The gum, ten bucks, and bank robbery are pretty clear-cut bad/wrong decisions.  Now that my own ethics lesson has concluded, it makes me wonder.  Is having debt a wrong/bad decision?

 

No law states that it is illegal to go into or stay in debt.  In fact, our country would be sent to gallows pretty quick if that were the case.  Personally I believe what is written in the Bible, and nowhere in the Bible does it say that going into or being in debt is a sin or wrong.  But if being in debt isn’t wrong then is it right?  Well I’m pretty sure having absolutely no debt would be considered right.  I’ve concluded that being in debt is neither right or wrong.  Darn it, we are in the gray area aren’t we?  I have a lot of debt.  I never have particularly enjoyed having this large amount of money owed to different individuals, but “it is what it is” was my attitude towards it.  It’s a part of life.  I “need” something, so I take a look at my bank account and instantly I give the Kevin McCallister aftershave look, and well then I guess I’ll just borrow it and pay it back over time.  I didn’t take the time to Google the percent of Americans in debt, but I’m going to safely assume that it is around, if not more than, seventy-five percent.  Normal-expected-accepted, that’s debt.  Nobody likes to be that guy that goes against the grain in any situation.  It is a whole lot easier to fit in and do what everyone else is doing.  I don’t believe I made this decision consciously, “everyone else is in debt; I guess I’ll join in”.  No.  It is almost a way of life, an upbringing.  Recently we had our furnace stop working (different story for a different day) and after he explained the problem, which might as well have been in French, he immediately went into the ways we can “finance this sucker”.  I could probably finance a jump rope if I wanted to.  I’m not saying it is wrong, well maybe I am.

 

I’ll try to connect all these dots I promise.  I drive over the speed limit.  Sometimes it is a little bit over and sometimes it is a bit reckless (all depends if I’m missing the game) but who doesn’t right?  Not sure Google would know this, but let’s just say that seventy-five percent of people drive over the speed limit.  I would argue that driving 5 miles per hour over the speed limit isn’t right or wrong but could say that it’s another gray-area-type-of-issue.  I don’t really feel bad about driving over the speed limit, and frankly I don’t even make the conscious decision to push the pedal harder, I just do it (who else just said “Nike” in their head?)  I could do this, and plan to, my whole life until something or someone makes me think different about it.  Those flashing lights in the rear view mirror put a knot in your gut instantly.  Say I get pulled over twice in a week for speeding.  Two tickets are going to make me inch outside the gray area and think “well this speeding thing may be a little wrong”.  Granted I would be mad at the cop that pulled me over, I would still have to second guess the seventy-five percent of speeders out there.  Say I was really crazy.  I didn’t know the brake pedal existed and I went as fast as possible at all times, and one day happened to hit a biker because of my carelessness.  Now my decision to speed becomes a matter of ethics.  Remember our multiple choice options?  That’s answer “D”.  I would feel bad, regret, and get punished for the decision I made.  Now instead of it being in the gray area, speeding might as well be murder in my mind.

 

I needed that lens with debt before the decision to eliminate it once and for all could be made.  No longer could I look at debt as something that was a part of life.  Debt had to become wrong in my mind.  It was the enemy.  Placing debt in the gray area allows it to be “okay”.  It loves to sit in the gray area because no true action is ever taken against it.  We all agree to that gray area topics have no definite answer, so again, “it is what it is”.  If I continued to be a part of the seventy-five percent, choosing between the answers of the multiple choice question would be a weekly process; with “D” most likely being the answer.  I wouldn’t get in trouble with the law, but my future, marriage, friendships, future children, and more would all be punished for my lack of action.  There are so many factors into why I want to get out of debt (will be covered soon) but taking the stance that debt is wrong allows me to finally become serious about it.  I understand that even Armstrong couldn’t make the stretch between speeding and relating that to debt, but I truly believe that if debt is looked at as wrong, bad, something that causes consequences, then I am going to do everything possible to get debt out of my life.

I’m in debt–Wont you join me?

 

Being Greedy With My Debt-Have Some…

I’m in Debt.  Won’t you join me?

$48,818.25 to be exact.  That’s a big number.  Throw in the mortgage and I am a stone’s throw away from 200k total.  I’m what the financial gurus call “diversified”.  I didn’t want to leave anybody out so I figured I would invite everyone to the party, but there isn’t a lot of streamers, party hats, or a punch bowl to gravitate to.  On top of that, I’m the piñata.  Credit cards, car loan, medical bill, mortgage, and my favorite student loans.  I am not behind on any of these payments.  I don’t say that trying to brag, in fact I’m a little embarrassed.  I’m going to back this up a bit.

I am married to wonderful wife who is in the business of helping people.  She is a nurse and darn good one at that.  In fact, in college I was a bed-ridden with a leg injury and she took wonderful care for me pre-RN status.  I mainly remember tacos that rivaled my mothers and watching Seinfeld starting from episode 1.  Good nurse, loves her job, makes decent money.  I work for a university, making modest money.  Combined we are making around seventy to seventy-five thousand per year.  That is base and does not include any overtime worked by my wife.

When attempting to get to the top of a skyscraper, the first step is not to push the down arrow elevator button.  This is where I am a bit embarrassed.  Married almost 4 years, taking to account our combined income, why am I in debt almost fifty thousand dollars? (we will leave the mortgage out for now)  I pushed the down arrow.  I started in the basement with student loans, but I pushed whatever button is below the “B”.  This was a comfortable ride.  They were not playing boring elevator music.  This elevator was playing all of my favorite songs.  Why not?  I’m getting farther and farther from the surface but I’m not “paying” a dime for it.  Everyone likes stuff.  New stuff? Well everyone loves new stuff.  We deserve new stuff.  Graduating high school or college is a big step.  Now comes the transition of going to school and maybe working some, to working hard all the time.  I’m not going to work hard to drive an old car, talk on an old cell phone, and watch an only sort-of flat screen; I want really flat!  When I did something good in school I got a shiny star or a good grade.  My shiny star comes in all shapes and sizes now.

Get to the point.  Noted.  A few months ago my wife and I got to the point where we looked at the money coming in and the money going out and didn’t like the result.  Fighting on Mortal Combat at the arcade is awesome and missed.  Fighting for your right to party is a little beyond my time but seems like a valid cause.  Fighting with your spouse (or yourself if not married) about money is not fun.  We stood eye to eye, shook hands, and decided that we are going to form tackle this debt.  This was a big step for us.  Deciding that the money out cannot exceed the money in, but also deciding to take our extra money and throw it-really hard-at our debt.  Don’t underestimate this step.  Now hard work doesn’t even mean a shiny star.  We knew it was the right thing to do, but even before it started, it stung.

That decision brings us to now.  Actually, let me back up again (not as far this time I promise).  Like I said, we came to this decision a couple of months ago.  From that moment on I was determined to learn everything possible about getting out of debt.  Excluding an eighty page book from the BoxCar Children’s Mystery Collection, the last book that I read cover to cover was Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.  I had the main ideas down, but I jumped on the web and refreshed my brain.  I was excited.  I had the “I’m going to go to the gym everyday and never drinking soda again unless it’s a special occasion” type of excitement.  I was reading online articles, downloading budget apps on my phone, and even checking between the couch cushions.  So much great advice oozing from person after person on the internet talking about how they started in a foreign prison eating baked sand, and now need both their fingers and toes to count the digits of their bank balance.  Every single one of them had rags-to-riches type stories, and although I can respect that, all I see now is the guy/gal getting paid to give money advice.  I don’t doubt the principles, baby-steps, rungs of a ladder, etc.  Part of me wants to see the struggle.  Once upon a time there was a poor peasant.  After a few years this poor peasant was king of the world with riches overflowing.  Well that story is no fun.  I want the details.

When I invited you to join in on my debt, I was being completely serious.  You get the details.  Applying what I learn and continue to learn from the debt experts, I will let you ride shotgun on this roller coaster without having to wait a little longer to get that prime seat.  I won’t do everything right.  I’m in debt fifty thousand dollars; I make mistakes.  What I will do is give insight.  What’s easy, what’s hard, but most of all I will give you the details.  We know the outcome, I become the guy with riches overflowing right?  Right.  This is a long journey.  A journey that will take years to accomplish, and although I don’t have an elf, wizard, and huge hairy feet to accompany me, I do believe and hope that it will be adventurous.

I’m in debt.  Won’t you join me?