This is really hard…….

I don’t think my husband or I fully grasped how hard getting out of debt and changing or spending habits was going to be. Here we are more than half way through June and I don’t think that we have made any real progress.  Well, I guess the most real progress we have made is we sat down this morning and had a heated discussion about our need to change vs. our want to change.  I feel like we are both on the same page with knowing that we need to do something to change our habits and pay down our debt but we clearly are not on the same page when it comes to wanting to change our spending habits.

Part of the discussion was that I feel like I am “in charge” of the finances and my husband just agrees with whatever I say basically…which sounds pretty awesome right? Well it’s not. I feel like it has made me into Gollum from Lord of the Rings that is guarding my precious monies (it’s funnier if you say it in his voice). Where this has truly backfired for me is that I have turned into the bad guy who won’t let anyone spend “my” money and I have to constantly be the one who tells everyone NO!  Well I don’t like being the bad guy all the time… makes me feel bad lol. So I basically gave up over the last 2 months……or went on strike. …..whatever you want to call it. Guess what? That totally did not work at all!

In May I was able to pull off about an 8K per year raise (patting myself on the back) which will help out tremendously! However, one of our really bad habits is that if we make more money we will spend more money…and we did….a lot of it….and stuff we “needed”. ARRGGG!!!! I get so frustrated sometimes that I just want to give all of this up! I can totally see how financial problems are the number one reason for divorce in this country! But I don’t want to be that couple that gives up, we are strong and I know that we can get through this…but I’m not going to lie, this is really hard.

This morning I told him that I need help and I want off this lone island of sole responsibility for our finances. It’s kind of funny how talking about things actually helps, because he said that he thought I wanted to be in control of everything and felt like he didn’t get a say at all, so we were both frustrated with the other and where just letting it fester versus just talking about it. We need to be a partnership and be on the same page with EVERYTHING or else this is just not going to work.  It can’t just be “my way or the highway” but I have to get some input otherwise I have no other way to go.

This was definitely not our first fight about money…not even close….but I feel like this time we had the most progress towards common ground.  I think we are both to the point now where we realize that there is no alternative, this debt is not going to go away no matter how much we just “want” it to lol. We have been married for almost 10 years and it had taken us that long to get into this mess and we certainly can’t expect to get out of it overnight, not like that dude in Cali that won the $450 million dollar jackpot last week 🙂

Should you think about a vacation when you’re in debt?

Stacy B. Miller
Dave Ramsey has an honest answer to this question. He says, it’s best to skip vacations when someone is in debt or trying to get out of it. Dave didn’t go for any trip for 10 years when he was in debt problems. His logic is simple. He had to pay many bills and feed his children.
You need to spend a fraction of your paycheck on vacation spending. But it shouldn’t break or trample your financial foundation.
 Most importantly, you shouldn’t get into financial problems again due to your vacation.
Can you think about a vacation when in debt?
If you’re in debt, it is better to avoid going for a vacation since it means extra expenses. Unless, your employer or someone else sponsors the trip, it isn’t wise to go for a vacation.  Since you’re in debt, this means you’re in a financial crunch. Your main aim should be to pay off your debts instead of going on vacation.
You have to save up as much as possible. First, you need to pay extra amount to get rid of your debts – doesn’t matter if you want to pay back your creditors through debt avalanche method or debt snowball method. If you have decided to enroll in a debt settlement program, then you have to set aside money for the fees too.
Second, you can’t touch your emergency fund to go on a vacation. This is an absolute no. This fund is to cover your emergency expenses like car repair, a leak in the water pipe, etc.
Third, there are few other expenses you can’t ignore. You can’t stop contributing to retirement savings accounts because it secures the golden years of your life.
What is the other way out? 
Although it is advisable to clear all your debts before traveling, but there are a few people who need a break in a year. They can’t put off their travel dream for a long period. Experts suggest them to plan a debt-free vacation in these ways:
1. Decide the tenure of the vacation
2. Decide the spot
3. Calculate the cost of transportation and hotel reservation
4. Create a budget for food and shopping
5. Calculate how much one needs to save to implement this plan
It is difficult to save money for a vacation when someone is in debt. But, it isn’t impossible. First, one should tackle the high-priority debt. Next, one should start saving for vacation. The plan is already there. One just needs to follow it.
One should avoid going to an expensive tourist spot, no matter how tempting it is. If someone can afford a smaller getaway or a road trip, then so be it.
There is yet another way to pay off debt and travel. You can get a job abroad. Make sure you choose a job that pays you enough to cover your debts and visit tourist destinations.
If none of these options work for you, then enjoy cheap fun activities with your family instead of going somewhere expensive.
It is all about priorities. Five years back, I had $30,000 consumer debt. I chose to repay debt over travel. I knew if i sacrificed, I could afford to pay off debt within 1 and half year. The sacrifice was worth it.
I spent a few weekends at friends’ houses during that phase. So, I wasn’t bored. Besides, my sacrifices paid off. I was debt free in just 6 months, much earlier than what I contemplated.

5 tips to graduate college without the stress of debt

My husband and I made a lot of mistake when it came to college and starting our new lives together and unfortunately there is nothing we can do to help ourselves now but dig in and get busy trying to dig out of this mess.  We have two young children and I am currently working 3 jobs, my husband working as much as he can with his job, we have no life, no more fun toys, and no more house….we live with my mother. As much as this is a terrible situation we are in a very positive light has shown from it, we get to teach our kids about money and debt in a way that we were never taught. Our parents never warned us about debt and student loans (mainly because they had no idea) but that stops here, our kids will never know the burden of student loan debt, credit card debt, and consumer debt in general.  I hope that for those of you reading this, our mistakes will help you too and to me that is totally worth it 🙂

Here are my 5 tips to help you avoid the same mistake we made.

First, know what you want to be when you grow up! I know it sounds silly but part of my student loan debt problem is that I changed my mind half way through and then STILL didn’t end up wanting to pursue that field. What Travis and I plan to do differently with our kids is really to encourage them to try an apprenticeship/internship/job shadow before they apply to college to really make sure they know what their future career entails.  I know that my high school did offer a lot of different types of job shadowing but I never took advantage of those opportunities.

Second, once you figure out what you want to go to school for make sure you can actually get the job you want in the area that you want. One of the biggest mistakes that I made with my degree was location; there are just simply not enough options for entry level positions in my area. Why was this a problem? Well because my future husband and I at the time never discussed if we wanted to move or stay near our family and as it turned out after we had baby #1 we really wanted to stay in our home town and raise our family here. So moral of the story….look way down the road and make sure your future life wants will match where you decide to live to pursue a career.

Third, pick an in state school with a low cost of tuition. Let’s be real here, with the exception of a few rare cases…no one gives a dam where you went to college. Have you ever asked your Dentist, Banker, Doctor, or even your boss, where they went to college? Probably not….and why would you? Who cares?!!! I don’t know about you but I continue to go utilize the services of the same few people because they are good at what they do not because of where they went to school.

Fourth, try as desperately as possible to not take out ANY student loans! I know that it difficult but start saving now and work part time to cash flow you college degree. I can’t stress enough to you what a terrible burden our student loan debt is to us and yes….we too thought we had it all figured out and would get great high paying jobs that would pay it all back too…not the case, most entry level positions now have starting salaries that cannot keep up with the rising cost of education. Do yourself a favor and work, apply for grants, and apply for scholarships….do whatever you can to pay for your degree yourself, trust me you will be way better off in the end and this is the same thing we will teach our children when they are ready for college.

Fifth, while you are in school, if you can, save for your future life. You have to start somewhere right? We made the mistake of starting on our own with nothing literally and figuratively….nothing. So what did we do with all of that nothing? Well we charged it to our shiny new credit cards of course.  Oh man we don’t have a sofa, I guess we will have to buy a whole living room set and just charge it….we are college grads we’ll be able to pay it off! I look back now and shake my head thinking of how stupid we were and how much time and money we have lost with stupid decisions.  So that’s my last piece of advice to save some money to give yourself a little “starter” fund so you’re not tempted to start charging up those credit cards…in fact, don’t even apply for those credit cards, you don’t need them!

As I sit back and look at the mountain of student loan debt we have ($161,000 between the two of us) and that fact that neither one of us is in a career that utilizes our degree, not to mention doesn’t require a degree, I know we can’t change the past but I hope we can help to change our kids future and give them a more solid foundation to start their lives as adults in our current consumer driven culture.  My last piece of advice is simple and ties everything together…have a plan! Ask someone for advice, ask questions, and  be informed.