My Road to Debt

When I married my husband we both brought debt into our relationship. Our debt consisted of many consumer debt and a small portion of student loans. After our wedding in 2015 our debt multiplied. The history of this debt is long and confusing. Until recently I was blind to our situation mostly because I knew nothing about finances and I didn’t care to learn. I asked my husband to manage all of our finances without any assistance from me. This breed conflict, confusion and fear. As I said the history of our debt is long and not entirely clear to even me so I will spare you the early details and share only the story of the final breaking point.

Directly after my wedding I was offered an amazing opportunity at a graduate school in a neighboring state. In less than a month my husband and I packed up and moved across the state line five hours away to start my graduate career. This offer came with a small stipend of about $12,000 annually, not enough to live on but it was a start. We did not think it would be difficult for my husband to find a job in this new town since it had never been a problem before. We were very wrong.

Months went by and my husband still was unable to find a job. This was not from a lack of trying, what we did not realize was that the market was over saturated with people. Oil and gas companies, just months before our move, had laid off the majority of their employees flooding the small job market with thousands of individuals.  Even serving jobs at Chili’s had over 100 applicants per job opening. Finally my husband got a break and landed a job at a resort forty minutes from our home.  However, this job was strictly commission based in a time when purse strings were kept pulled tight.

Soon this commission based employment served as a curse not a blessing. Money was still not coming into the house but our life style never changed. To add to the mix during this year I became pregnant with our son and had several complications. That meant additional hospital bills and unexpected leave from my schooling. Just months before we were due to deliver my husband got a break and landed a job at the hospital five minutes from our home. Of course it was less pay than what we were making prior to our move but it was still an improvement in our situation.

One month before my due date my husband called me in tears and said we needed to talk. Famous last words right? That night while he was at work on his lunch break he explained to me that “the money ran out.”  We no longer had the funds to pay our rent, electric bill or any other bill we may receive.  It was at this time that I could no longer remain blind to our situation. I knew things were tight but I did not know how tight.

I discovered that night that for the past year we had been living on a credit card to the tune of $10,000 and our previous credit cards were also maxed out and being left unpaid. I remember feeling betrayed and terrified not understanding how this happened but the truth was I let it happen. I saw the new credit card and never thought twice about it. I knew the only money coming into the house for months was my very small stipend from the school. I also was the one who signed off to take a $20,000 living loan from the school to supplement for that year but did not manage spending. This was not solely my husbands fault, we were both young, dumb and careless. All of our cards maxed out, huge student loans looming and a baby one month away.

Family members helped us place a band-aid on our situation for the next 3-4 months until we decided to move back to our home state where we knew my husband could find a job and his mother could spare us the cost of daycare. After the birth of my son my husband started his new job, I transferred graduate programs, went back to my part time job and got settled in a new rental home.  We stopped adding to our debt but it never went anywhere.

Now one year later we still have the crippling debt and continue to be maxed out. We became comfortable with our band-aid and never actually fixed the situation. This blog is to document our journey to becoming debt free and stress free. Everything we do to improve our situation, all of our strategies and actions will be documented weekly. I do this hoping that my journey and the resources I find can help others and let them know that they are not alone.

-MJ

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Introduction

Welcome! Maxed out and Stress Out is a blog to discuss my personal financial journey and relationship with debt. These two subjects have cause a lot of turmoil and stress in my life that has effected not just me but my relationships with family and friends as well. I hope that through this blog I can provide assistance, and most of all hope, to those who find themselves in the same situation. My story is very personal and it has been difficult for me to realize that discussing my family’s struggles with money is not admitting defeat but rather removing the chains of shame and fear that have held us back. So, welcome and enjoy!

MJ