Believe it or not, there are Consequences

Ashley and I were talking this morning about debt and choices we made "when we were young". We are both in the process of paying off debt and trying to save money (although I think she has a head start on my husband and me).

I wish I could go back in time and tell my 18 year old self a couple things about debt and money. I realize now that I had no clue that there were consequences for the way I spent money. Unfortunately it takes a lot longer to fix what you've messed up when it comes to the financial aspect of life.

I remember applying for a credit card shortly after I turned 18. I thought it would really help me build good credit. I had plans for using it and paying it off each month, just to "build" my credit. I was always told that some credit is better than no credit. I think that is a lie Credit card companies make up to get young people into debt.

I did good for awhile, since my father had died the summer before my senior year I was receiving social security checks each month, I was also working a part time, very low paying job. I had plenty of money coming in. I saved absolutely none of it.

A while after I stopped getting the social security checks I started to enjoy having the Credit card. I am very glad that my credit card had a $400 limit. I think it helped me a lot.

The credit card was just strike one on my list of mistakes. The not saving money was strike two.
I did pretty good until I got married. My husband had made some bad choices before we got married and had a high loan from college (he got no financial aid, I was lucky enough to get a lot of financial aid and ended up with only a small school loan).

From then on our money choices went down hill. We figured his credit was already messed up so it didn't matter. We didn't understand the consequences of not paying doctor bills. We didn't understand that every time we chose to go out to eat, or go to the movies instead of put the money towards debt we were just digging ourselves deeper into the hole of debt.

For a long time we both worked, we had way more money than needed to pay our bills, yet we didn't make any effort to pay the ones that didn't send us monthly statements.

When our daughter was born we knew the best thing for her would be if I was at home taking care of her. We didn't want a stranger raising our daughter, we didn't even want someone we knew raising our daughter. So we went down to one income.

It's now, now that we barely have enough money to pay our bills, that we realize how bad our debt situation is. We have credit agencies calling us daily about doctor bills. We couldn't get a loan or credit card right now if it was a life or death situation. Of course, now, now that we are in this situation we realize the consequences of buying everything you want. We realize the importance of paying your bills. We realize life is NOT all fun and games.

You know what the worst part about us spending all that money was? We have nothing to show for it. We didn't buy a house, we didn't go on vacation, we didn't buy furniture. Nope, we spent it on eating out, movies, CD's, other useless things.

That is why if I could go back in time, I would tell my self to remember that there are consequences.


Beth @ The Natural Mommy said...

Very good post! I would recommend this to any college student. It's too bad we don't realize these lessons until we're so deeply indebted!

Josh and I were lucky enough to avoid debt in our first years out of college, but we still were not living as we should have been. We had two incomes and were saving none of it. In fact - we were complaining about how poor we were! (Of course, he was getting a stipend and I was working at a small Christian school, but it was still twice what we're making now!)

When I think of how much we could have saved - it makes me sick.

But God will (and does, and has) provide(d)! Even for the financially irresponsible. Which I think is utterly amazing.

Jes said...

Oh I definitely agree that God provides despite our stupid decisions. He continues to provide and bless us time after time. Isn't is just such wonderful proof that God loves us (as irresponsible as we may be sometimes)?
Eugene's dad used to always tell him "if you don't have cash you don't need it" too bad he didn't listen!

Joanna said...

Looks like you've learned a lot! What are you doing differently now? Have you cut up those credit cards yet?!
I'm just amazed at how the math works out when interest is working against me (and I'm delighted at what it looks like when it's working FOR me, in the long term!)