Step 1 – Admit The Problem
I have a problem. Well, really I have a bunch of problems that all add up to one big, ginormous problem. One of the biggest problems leading to my ginormous problem is that I tend to cruse along the path of life, blissfully unaware of the reality of my circumstances. I take Scarlett O’Hara’s quote, “I’ll think about it tomorrow.” to a whole new level. I look at my life through big, old, oversized Jackie O-type rose colored glasses (a-hem, salmon spectacles, if you will).
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being positive, and I love surrounding myself with positive people. I happen to think this is a great way to live life! My husband is even worse (better? worse?) than I am at looking on the bright side. I absolutely love this about him, and it was one of the biggest reasons I married him. But, herein lies the problem: when you’re both super positive and see no problem with living inside your little, pink bubble, there is no one to balance you out. So, you are stuck together in the bubble while certain aspects of your life are caving in, and just sit there and smile at each other instead of fixing the problem….or even acknowledging the problem for that matter.
Something happened while Awesome 2000 and I while we were staring at each other in the bubble; our finances came crashing down. (Side note: Okay, my husband’s name isn’t actually Awesome 2000. This is the name of the imaginary dad that our son made up when he was 5. Awesome 2000 did all sorts of fun things with my son, like take him on field trips to the moon. Honestly, I’d wish he was my dad too! I decided to use it here to protect my husband’s real name. You know, the internet can be a scary place.).
How Much Debt? Who Knows.
If you would have asked me a year ago how much debt we had, I would have told you not much. Maybe $2800 on a credit card, but that’s it. That is my “salmon spectacles” number.” I’m sad to say that I was a little off the actual number. Well, actually WAY, FAR, HUGE, LEAPS and BOUNDS off the actual number.
Dear Blog Reader, I hesitate to even tell you the actual number because every time I see it, my pink bubble burst, replaced by a dark and foreboding bubble. I promise I will tell you what that big, scary debt number is, but I am saving that for my next post, so stay tuned!
Let’s rewind back to January 2017. I don’t remember the exact circumstance that led me to print out and pour over our bank statements that month, but whatever the reason, that’s what I did. I spent hours going through every check, and every charge trying to figure out why our paychecks never seemed to last through the month. We make a decent salary, so I wondered what EVIL voce could be sucking the money out of our account. Surely, we couldn’t be spending it!
News Flash: Turns out that no evil forces we at work. It was us. All us. Making poor decisions, and bopping along through life like we made so much money we didn’t have to worry about it.
I was so astonished by what I found that day that I pulled up statements from November, October, and September just to be sure we were stupid all along and December wasn’t some fluke. All the evidence pointed to the former; December was, indeed normal. The worst part of this reality check was seeing that we had paid the bank over $2000 in overdraft fees since the beginning of the year. I’m totally embarrassed to even share that with you, because seriously, HOW STUPID!
So, how did we get there? Two words: Head Math. Someone please tell me I’m not the only one who has tried to keep track of their bank account in their head instead of using a written budget. (Please? It would make me feel a little better to know I’m not the only one sailing the stupid ship). I mean, I’m pretty much crap at math anyway, so why wouldn’t I try to do all of this in my head (insert eye roll and head slap here).
Once I had processed all of the information I found in our bank statements, it was time for Awesome 2000 and I to sit down and have a “come to Jesus” meeting with ourselves. We realized that by not having a written budget, we were spending WAY too much money on crap we didn’t need; mainly eating out and Target runs (more about Target runs in a later post).
Formulating A Grand Plan
That was it. That was the moment that I said NO MORE. This was the moment that I realized that living in the bubble was not a good place to be. This small act of coming to reality with our bank account has been the single hardest step in this whole journey, but it has lead to a GRAND PLAN. A plan that sets us up for financial freedom and an amazing future for my family.
I invite you to take this journey with me as I talk about budgets, debt, finances, and family. If you are like me, going through life living in financial denial, not wanting to face what you know is there, I offer you this advice: Try it. Take a couple of hours, and pull EVERYTHING out. There is something very freeing in knowing exactly where you are at, and taking responsibility for how you got there. Goals are never completed without concrete steps. Knowing the full scope of your situation needs to be that tough, first, concrete step.
Always Be Positive
One thing I realized is that I can still stay positive during this process. In fact, I would argue that positivity is an essential element for success. Rather than completely removing my salmon spectacles, I just slide them down my nose for a bit to get the dose of reality I need. My hope is to inspire you to do the same.
Have a debt story of your own? I’d love to hear from you!
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