The First Step

I mentioned in an earlier post that in order to get out of debt a person has to have the desire, willpower and knowledge to do so. It wasn’t until April of 2016 that I gained the desire and willpower. Like many people in debt, getting rid of it seems like a very daunting task or you are waiting for an influx of cash or a better paying job.  I knew it was something that I needed to do, but thought one day I would get around to it. That point in time came when I entered a serious relationship with a goal to buy a house.

In the beginning….I was one of the people that was burned during the housing crisis in 2008 coupled along with a failed relationship. This was the real start of my accumulation of debt. These two experiences left me bitter against combining finances with anyone else as well as ever buying a house again.

Then 8 years later, came Daniel. (Insert love story). I never told Daniel about my financial situation. As we discussed what our future together looked like and he questioned me more about my finances I knew that if I really wanted this relationship to have a chance at success, I would have to come clean. I gathered all of my credit card information-logins, passwords, balances, limits, interest rates, put it on a spreadsheet and hoped our fairly new relationship would survive this bump. That was one of the hardest conversations I have ever had. I have to give him a lot of credit because he has stuck by my side and given me the tools to succeed. He too had been in the position I was but had worked his way out. We had lots of discussions about finances and what that meant for our immediate future, which of course meant dreams and hopes were crushed…for the time being. Though our discussions he helped me realize that getting out of debt shouldn’t be something I should do for him, it had to be something I did for myself.

Through these hard and probing conversations about finances in the following months I shed  many tears. Even though it was extremely invasive, I knew I had to give him full access to view my accounts and how I was managing my money so he could give me the tools I needed to accomplish this goal. I was fully exposed and could hide nothing. But like any great coach or trainer, he wouldn’t let me give up, reminded me of the progress I had made and always kept my expectations in check. He pushed me, questioned me, and challenged me, but most importantly he supported me.

As I mentioned, our relationship was in an early phase when I revealed my secret to him. Not exactly the best way to start a relationship. The early phases of a relationship should be filled with love, affection, dates, romance. Ours was not. This secret undoubtedly caused tension, but it also cost me the opportunity to have those experiences mainly because I had to work extremely hard to dig myself out of this financial hole and not further into it. My reality became that, I had no money to go to nice dinners, on dates, or trips. ALL of my disposable income had to go to credit cards. Furthermore, ALL of my spare time had to go towards activities that would earn more money to pay off bills. This is yet another example of how poor financial decisions and lack of financial responsibility can impact a relationship.
Some of you may be wondering, what did she do to pay off her debt? How much did she really pay off? How much is left? When will she achieve her goal? Keep reading. The next article will answer some of these questions.