Welcome to part 1 of my week of confessions. Today I will discuss when my debt payoff journey started, Wednesday I’ll talk about the issues I’ve had with debt payoff and money management, and Friday I will actually reveal my existing debt load. Brace yourself, it ain’t small!
If you stalked RDS from the beginning, you know that I started blogging on April 16th of this year. The thing you may not know is that I didn’t start my debt payoff journey on that date. I didn’t even start this year. I started back in January 2012.
After starting my first “real job” in January 2012, I started looking for advice on paying off my student loans. Like most other people, I got started with Dave Ramsey. And like most people who listen to D.R. before hearing other opinions, I got intense. You might even call it gazelle intense. I was fired up and ready to go! For a few months, at least.
By July 2012, I felt that I “deserved” a bit of lifestyle inflation. So I got a nicer apartment. My rent went from $560 to $780 a month (Mistake #1). But I couldn’t move into a nicer apartment with old furniture. So I financed a bedroom and living room set, to the tune of $3,500 (Mistake #2). It was on sale, so that’s okay, right?
No. Idiot. (read “idiot” in Dwight K. Schrute’s voice for the full effect)
I also put some decor and kitchen gadgets on a credit card (Mistake #3). Then, I got back to paying off debt. I paid off $14,500 in 2012.
Until January of this year, when I decided to purchase a car.
We had a car. Unfortunately, it was breaking down constantly and overheating on a regular basis. So we decided to get a new car. Or a new to us car.
For those who don’t know, I’m an incredibly neurotic driver. I cannot drive without having panic attacks if it is raining, snowing, or dark. It’s really bad. I’m also an incredibly neurotic BACKSEAT driver.
After a trip to the dealership, we came home with a 2012 Ford Focus with around 50,000 miles (Mistake #4). Why didn’t we get an older car with the same amount of mileage? No seriously, why? By the way, it’s upside down now.
Keep in mind, these are the mistakes we made AFTER learning more about finances. Some of our zingers before we started paying attention are even more laughable (including opening a business on credit cards with > 20% interest rates and taking out the maximum student loans to live off of).
When I read most finance blogs, I notice that most people don’t seem to slip up. At least not as epically as I did. But I figure if I messed up (and messed up and messed up and messed up), other people must have as well. Maybe even you. And if you did, you aren’t alone.
I am the poster child for financial screw ups. In fact, I’ve only done 3 things right thus far — 1) had a cheap wedding, 2) didn’t buy a house I couldn’t afford, and 3) started saving for retirement young. On one hand, it really freaking sucks. On the other hand, it’s okay.
People have screwed up since the beginning of time. Eve ate the apple. Britney shaved her head. Shit happens and you can’t change the past. What you can do is change yourself (or your actions) in the present to create a better future.
So that’s what I’m doing. I’m admitting to my mistakes and letting you know I’m not giving up. There will be obstacles (mostly my immaturity and impulsivity) but I’m still going. I will be debt free. Despite the fact that I’m not perfect.
A major reason I’m posting these confessions is because I think it will help hold me accountable. Shame seems to be a great motivator. Another is that I want to document the trials and tribulations that go along with working towards debt freedom and financial independence. Our journey isn’t the smoothest, but we will reach the same destination. It might take us longer, but we’ll get there.
When did you start your debt payoff “journey”? (What a cheeseball thing to say…) What mistakes have you made so far?
[Image from BuzzFeed]