Our Debt Confession

I started this blog a few months ago because I felt like our family was losing the personal finance battle.  My hope for this little blog of mine is that it would be a place where other people would come, and be able to find solutions to personal finance problems.  I wanted people to come here and read about ways that they could win with money, and maybe feel hope that big changes are possible.  So, for the sake of total transparency, here is our debt confession.

We believe in being debt free.

Early on in our marriage we have made it a priority to be debt free.  We both came into the relationship with debt, to the tune of around $42, 000.  That debt included two vehicles, and a student loan.

We decided that when we got married, we would keep living with room mates to lower our living expenses.  So many people looked at us like we were completely nuts, but it made it possible to not only pay off our debt, but also helped us to cash flow some pretty amazing trips without accumulating massive amounts of debt to do it.

By the time we had been married for two years, we had totally paid off the vehicle loans, the credit cards, paid for a $20,000 year of schooling and were starting to make plans to build a home.  3.5 years in we were debt free except for our house which felt a-mazing!

“Hello debt, my old friend… “

Life suddenly resembled this…

We got a little cocky – thought life was going pretty well for us.  Maybe we had somehow arrived, and life was safe to take on debt again.  What could possibly go wrong?!?

EVERYTHING!  Everything can go wrong!

Life went sideways in a big way.  I’ll spare you the long story, but the short version is this.  I was a day overdue with our youngest when my husband was brought home by his fellow racing friends.  He crashed in a mountain bike race, and suffered a massive concussion.  When I say massive, I mean he didn’t even know that I was 9 months pregnant at the time.

You remember Ten Second Tom from 50 first dates?  That was my husband.

I begged God that week for Him to let me go one week overdue, to give Matt some time to remember we were having a baby.  God answered my prayers. She was born 6 days later, and was welcomed by a daddy who knew that she was coming.

The following eleven months we saw our income drop by $5000/month, 10 medical trips for specialists for both the baby and my husband, room mates moved in, and an investment in a passive income source (you know in case Matt was never able to work again).

I looked at going back to work early, but I couldn’t make enough money to make it pay daycare expenses.  So, during this crazy period I did every side hustle I could think of to temporarily bring up our income with me staying at home caring for everyone during the day.

When the eleven months were over, we got a miracle.  My husband was prayed for and received healing almost immediately!  Now I am a nurse and I have witnessed miracles before, but none like the one my husband received.  It was amazing!  It was like suddenly I had my husband returned to me and he went back to work immediately.  I soon followed as my mat leave was up and we found an amazing daycare.

Life is short –  blow all the money… right?!  WRONG!

When Matt got better, we managed the mental strain of the previous year by taking some pretty big trips.  We took two, one with each side of our family – and while cost was mitigated significantly, they still were not free. Cha-Ching!

On top of just trying to be a family again, we still owed a significant amount on our van, and the bills for the investment rolled in.  I truthfully should have taken some time off after Matt’s recovery, just for my own sanity, but I dove right back into work because we “had all this debt!”  We over spent on a lot of convenience items that racked up quickly, and in the end I think we lost control because we assumed we were making money.  Cha-Ching, Cha-Ching!

So, here it is.  The truth.  My best estimate is that we started 2017 with $52,000 in debt (my chest feels tight just looking at that number). We didn’t start making a solid debt repayment plan/effort until October of 2017, but still managed to limp out a solid $13,000 in debt repayment for last year.

I hope its true what they say, that the truth will set you free…

So, all the cards are out on the table.  We’ve got a big mess to clean up, and if I am not alone, and you want to follow us on this crazy ride – sign up for my email list.  I will shoot off an email anytime a new blog post is up, and I have lots to write about!

If you want a place to start, these are some of the ways we have improved our finances so far:

This is how we slashed our grocery budget down to $600/month for a family of 4.

These are some of the goals we have set for 2018.

This is how I cut our monthly bills by a massive $2500/month.

Are you and your family working your way out of a mess too?  Tell me about it in the comments below, I would love to be your cheering squad!



Comments 4

  1. We had a similar story where I had our 6 month old son, pregnant with my daughter and my husband had a workplace accident that stopped him working for months! Add to that, the fact that we had both started our our businesses just a year before that and discovered that we were heading into a devastating recession 🙁 That was 8 years ago and we learned so much about our finances, about each other and about how to stay strong in a tough situation.

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      I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but look at how far you guys have come! I think it was a good wake up call when all the dust settled, at where all of our money disappeared to, and to start to taking charge of it. My hope is that by being candid about it, we can help someone else through their life’s challenge with less of a financial burden.

  2. Hey Nikky,

    Our situation is not the same, but it has been a journey! Since Josh started his own business our income has been sparse to say the least. Last summer when things were quite tight, I would buy groceries, etc. (not crazy splurges but things we would actually use) on our visa. We did end up getting a bit better financially by the fall, but we ended up using all our excess to pay down the visa!

    This winter work has again been very, very sparse (like maybe the lowest amount of work Josh has ever had). We still do use the visa, but I have been extremely limiting all our purchases. By pulling everything super tight, going grocery shopping about 3 times/month (for a family of 5) and not just using the backup visa because we have it, we have cut our spending down by almost $2,000/month. I thought living on such a tight shoe string would mean we are eating really unhealthy, but it’s meant the opposite. We make all our bread, buns, tortillas, cookies, cakes, etc. to save money, we are eating all the canning and veggies we froze from our garden and we’ve mostly eliminated juice and chips while super cutting down on the amount of milk we drink. I think we’re actually eating way healthier while spending way less!

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      I find that we are actually eating much better as well Ash, pre-packed foods are much more expensive! Come summer when things pick up again, you guys will be able to bank more of what comes in because of the changes you’ve made now. I can’t believe how much we’ve been able to cut out of our monthly expenses as well – sometimes I look at the numbers and I just can’t believe we were spending so much and not even thinking twice about it.

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