If you are just a passerby looking at our life everything looks perfect. We’re in our mid twenties, have a house, 4 dogs, and we seem successful, and like everything is going great for us. Which, I mean, it is. We are very fortunate and blessed, but behind the scenes it really isn’t that pretty debt wise.
I did the stupid student loan thing when going to school. I want to go back in time and scream at myself not to every day, but it’s too late. I didn’t even finish college, in fact, I dropped out, transferred schools, lost all of my credits (I had everything I needed to get my associate’s but never applied) and had to start over again. So, here I am, no degree and a crap ton of debt later. Gross.
Shortly after we were married, like a year or two our car died. We have always had one car, and only one car, so there was no backup. It was a salvage title, and not worth fixing, so, of course, we went car shopping. Our budget quickly went out the window, as K (the husband) is 6’10”, which is HUGE. That means he can’t drive most cars. At first I didn’t believe him, but, literally, he can’t. The steering wheel won’t go high enough for his legs to fit under it, so bam, new car, over twice our originally planned budget, and a 6 year car loan, on top of the student loans.
Then, we bought a house. Prices were great, we have amazing credit (yay!) and it was the right time for us. We found the perfect home, or so we thought, now it’s the always teaching us how to be handy home, but regardless, we found it, and were soo excited. I don’t regret buying the home, I know that was the right move for us, at the right time, but it added a LOT more debt. When we bought it K was making a lot more money, and we had budgeted, we were covered. We were still going to be able to pay off our loans, and pay back those that had helped us.
When K was laid off we sold as much as we could, closed the photography business as we’d now both need to work 2 jobs, and with the generosity of others, were able to keep our heads above water. Barely. We’re still not quite back on our feet, but we are trying, and are working to pay back every cent. It’s exhausting.
We now have student loans, car loan, house loan, and some other debt, and dream, daily, of debt free living. I read all of these ideas online of how people have changed their lives completely and live off of 14k a year, or 24k a year. My mind is blown, we make way, way more than that, and we are just surviving, living pay check to pay check.
How do people do it?
We WILL be debt free other than our home, and possibly a car one day, and I look forward to that day more than almost anything. We’ve tried so many different things, and have yet to find what works for us. Weekly budgets, monthly budgets, a budget on Google Drive so it’s always accessible. Monthly, weekly, and semi-weekly grocery shopping. I plan our meals out each week for the entire month, then we make our grocery list. We have exactly what needs to be paid when, and we have our financial goals, but we still always seem to fall short of reaching them.
I run 2 etsy shops, My Woven Dreams and My Dainty Dreams to bring in “extra” money. Let’s be real, none of it’s extra, but it’s not planned on, as it’s not guaranteed each month. I am a distributor for Young Living Essential Oils. I haven’t really pushed or advertised that, but I LOVE essential oils. I’m trying to incorporate them more and more into our lives, but they are expensive, so I feel bad charging for them and have given people my distributor price. K has 2 jobs, between my etsy shops and my job I have 2 full time jobs, and I just accepted a job as a transcriber and am waiting for my first assignments, so I pretty much have 3 jobs. I also build WordPress sites for people on the side, sometimes for trade for photos and things, and also for pay. We have websites with affiliate links, and are working to increase our traffic to those to help. This blog, Domesticated Pax and How to Noyes.
Our jetted tub just broke, and I’m a bit devastated. I’d love to fix it, but it won’t happen anytime soon. I’m so tired of being criticized on where we do spend the little money we have, like in us building a new bed frame. Our house is breaking left and right, and if we don’t fix things as they break everything will be broken and we’ll be in a worse spot than we are now. Basically, I get it. We all have different priorities. We make no extra trips, we do grocery shopping when we are already out to save on gas. We make homemade laundry detergent, we hang dry most of our clothes, we garden (the dogs kind of ruined that one this year, but we tried, they just got to all the food first), we make homemade dog treats, pack lunches for work, almost never eat out, etc.
No one is perfect, least of all us, and I know how frustrating it is to look at someone and be dumb founded at how together they have it and how well things are going for them. You see the perfect little family, and none of the problems, but we all have them. Our number one issue is money. We’re both still learning, and at times it seems like we bit off more than we can chew, but we’re doing it. No one ever prepared me for this, or for the other difficulties that come with marriage, not that it was anyone’s job, I also never prepared myself. I mean, I knew marriage was hard, but apparently my definition of hard was tame. I didn’t know how money problems could turn you into completely different people, and tear you apart from the ones you love the most.
Our debt problems suck. We, mostly me, did it to ourselves. K came into our marriage with a couple thousand dollars left on his car, and a thousand dollars left on my ring, which we paid off quickly after being married. I came into the marriage with the crushing student loans. (If you’re even entertaining the idea of getting them, just don’t. Stupidest thing I’ve ever done). I was taught growing up that I’d never been given more than I could handle. In the moment I’ve wanted to call a time out, thinking I couldn’t handle things, but each time I’ve been wrong, and I’ve come out better for it.
Money is our biggest issue, it’s pushed K and I in ways we never thought we could be pushed, and forced us to get very creative. It’s led to some of the worst fights, and some of the best talks. It’s made us sit down and really prioritize and figure out just what we can go without, and we’re happier for it. Yes, we are more exhausted and busier than we’ve ever been, but we finally have a clear goal, and a game plan in mind.
Will we still fail and need to pick ourselves back up? Definitely. But, the important thing is that we are making progress. We will get there, and one day we’ll be in a position to help those that have helped us. We are not perfect, but we are trying and improving, and that’s all I can ask. And, at the end of the day I get to come home to these 5, which makes it all worth it, and helps K and I get up and do it all again the next day.
If you have any any tips and tricks you have for staying on budget and/or getting out of debt I’d love to hear them.