The first time my wife and I went to a Financial Peace University class was in December 2010. We had only been dating for a few months, but I was enjoying getting to know this woman who was so smart and inspiring. Since she was excited talking about the money stuff, I was willing to give it a chance. I didn’t know what I was getting into with the FPU class and went in without any expectations.
It was awful. Being confronted with the reality of my financial situation had me in tears every single class. I hated that Dave called the biggest obstacle in my life a “baby step”. AmBux and I continued with the class and completed it, but it took us a few more years, getting married and combining our finances, and taking FPU again in 2016 for the debt payoff journey to really get started.
I graduated college in 2003 and even though I had over$30,000 in student loan debt I was naïve and unconcerned about paying it back. I spent several years making very little money and living off credit cards, figuring that someday I would make more money and it would all work out. Someday I would pay it off, right? So, it was ok to put that meal on the credit card. Go to a movie. Buy a plane ticket to see my family. The concept of ‘living within my means’ was not one I gave much thought to. I worried about rent and minimum payments and that was about it.
In early 2010 I filed bankruptcy to wipe out the $25,000 of credit card debt I had accumulated. It’s embarrassing to admit all this, because now that AmBux and I have worked so hard to pay down our debt $25K does not seem nearly as insurmountable. But in 2010 I was at a loss. I did not see any way I would ever be able to pay this credit card debt AND my student loan debt. The thing is, though, after the bankruptcy was finalized and I had that paper in hand, I was hit with the reality that I still had my student loans to pay. Those debts don’t get erased. I didn’t really feel like my situation had improved one bit. All this was just months before I met AmBux and before we took that first step toward financial peace.
Looking back on all the years I spent in complete denial of my finances is tough. I have sympathy for the person I was, but I also want to shake her and tell her all the things I know now. I was not nearly as powerless as I felt, I just had my priorities all screwed up. I never used a budget. I didn’t have financial goals. Learning about other people who have paid off substantial amounts of debt is always inspiring to me and makes me wish I had the confidence when I was younger to take control of my own financial situation. I know now that I could have tackled that credit card debt in addition to my student loans, it just would have made the journey a lot longer.
The Financial Time Warp sucks you in and offers a false sense of security. By not facing the reality of your own financial situation you are only postponing the inevitable! Be brave, look at the numbers. Maybe you’ll cry like I did. But that’s the first step to taking control and changing your life for the better.