A few months ago, I woke up. I woke up to the many things wrong in my life. Here is one of them. Part 1 of a series.
I had been living the dream. I had graduated from a four-year college with a degree in civil engineering, had a job lined up before graduating and a wonderful relationship with a women I knew would be my wife. I became a contributing member of society and I wanted everything that it had to offer. I used the first six months of my income to upgrade everything I owned from school and obtained a few toys in the process. I was happy. To be even happier I figured that I needed more. And more I got.
However, I always didn’t have the cash on hand for everything at the time of purchase. So I got a credit card. I paid the card off every month, but this new found “wealth” I could do even more things. I took my girlfriend out to nice dinners, bought her a lot of stuff, bought myself a lot of stuff. The best part was that I didn’t need to pay the entire balance of the credit card at the end of the month. I could push it off and pay that off in chunks, however the number of chunks needed to pay off the entire balance every month became larger and larger by the month. I never needed a budget. I knew the balance in my checking account and of the credit cards, why would I need to write that down?
Fast forward three years, one marriage, one car loan and one mortgage later, I had three credit cards near their max. Soon I found myself not able to do the things that I was used to. I couldn’t. The majority of my paycheck was going to my mortgage, utilities and the car, with its loan and regular maintenance. There wasn’t the money available to pay the cards down anymore. As much as I wanted to run away from my debt, it always was there in front of me. I couldn’t move, I could feel it closing in on me.
That is when I woke up. I realized that the life that I was living was no longer sustainable and if I continued, I would drown. I decided that debt would no longer rule my life. I decided that I could live my live without even the need for debt.
I now have a budget that allows me to see where every penny is going and a debt payment plan that will allow me to pay off my my student loan, car loan, and credit cards by 2013 and my mortgage by 2018 (20 years sooner). With this plan, money is tight at times, but I will save almost $60,000(!) in interest. I did have to sacrifice some of the “toys” that I had, but I do not miss any of them with some I forget sometimes I even had (i.e. Nintendo Wii).
The realization that I cam to was that happiness cannot be found in things. It is found in the experiences you have and in the friends and family that will always be there for you.
-J, the freedomtrekker