Lessons in Economy & Fighting Debt

My wife and I began our married life in a lovely home, a duplex just over 1000 square feet, with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a good sized living room, kitchen, and a garage. We lived in a nice neighborhood with plenty of good places to walk our small dog.

I earn a good income as the Marketing Director and partner in a web development company in Jasper, Indiana. On the side, my wife and I have several successful niche projects that bring in regular income as well.

I have debt, though.

You see, in the years proceeding married life I had failed to develop positive habits of money management. I was convicted on it, somewhat, but the conviction rarely led to action. I was making more money than a lot of young people my age and, unfortunately, I wasn’t taking good care of it. For a long time, my sense of budgeting was, “Oh, I’ll just make more money..”. Friends and family tried to encourage me in a better direction but I wouldn’t let it all sink in.

And so, as a young unmarried man with good income, I began acquiring credit card debt like there was no tomorrow. After all, I reasoned, I’d be paying it right off. 3 years later, I am still paying it off and I’ve spent thousands in interest. Not a very wise use of funds.

As a married man, though, I’ve been humbled and, thankfully, begun to realize the great responsibility I have to wisely manage the income I’m blessed with. I’ve also been convicted that I should not be carrying around this high load of debt and have begun working extra hard to remove it from our lives. My dear wife has been very loving and supportive through it all and, bringing no debt to the marriage, has accepted my debt as her own and is working with me to take it off our shoulders.

Early in 2008, thanks to the support of a dear friend, I stopped using credit cards entirely and even gave them into my friend’s safe keeping to ensure that I wouldn’t yield in a moment of weakness.

It was hard..

At one point, in a crisis with no savings in the bank and a wedding in just a few short weeks, I took my car to the bank to apply for a loan. Providence opened the doors shortly thereafter that I didn’t need the loan, but “wow” was that a wake up call. Credit cards had given me so much “safety” and, because of that safety, I’d never really had to feel what it was like to experience financial difficulty.

That brings us to today.

With a family of 5 (2 adults, 1 dog, 1 bird, and a fish) to provide for, my wife and I have decided to turn up the heat on our finances and practice an even tighter level of economy. We’re working hard to cut out all the “extras” in our life and, as a big part of that, we’ve made the difficult decision to “downsize” our home.

Now, we’re looking at a much smaller home (Single bedroom, 1 bath, no garage). We’ve yet to see how it will all work out, but the principles are in place. Dave Ramsey has a quote from his book, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness (highly recommended), which goes as follows:

“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”

So, we’re learning our lessons.

We moved to cash spending and started an envelope budgeting system and, though there have been some challenges, we’ve found it to be a solid step in the right direction for us.

Look forward to more posts on the subject, especially relating to “fighting debt”.

Have a wonderful rest of the day,

Jonathan Wold