My Journey out of Debt

Featured customers currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Relief Plan, share journey to become debt-free; hear how they juggle family, finances, and more.

Sacrificing to Become Debt Free

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It's hard to sacrifice.  We're a full year into our projected five-year Debt Management Plan to get out of debt, and after all the budget cutting, downsizing, and life-simplification projects, I'm finding that I'm not yet done cutting the excess fat out of my life in order to effectively live within my means. 

Six and a half years ago, my wife and I built a new house.  Within a year, we added a large concrete patio with a hot tub.  It was delivered on Valentine's Day, 2005.  Can you imagine?

I got my wife a hot tub for a Valentine's Day present.  I thought I was being creative.  It took some creative financing, that's for sure. 

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Those were very different economic times.  The mailbox was full of credit card offers with low introductory rates.  If you wanted to make a large purchase, there was always zero percent financing available, with low monthly payments.  It was almost as if businesses were willing to accommodate anyone, making it easy to say, "yes" to purchase anything, no matter the long-term consequences.   

The salesman said that it would have a nominal effect on my utility bill.  Of course I took his word for it.   We had it delivered during the winter of our first year in the new house, so I never really got a feel for the baseline of what our utility bill could be.  Only within the month did I compare utility bills with my neighbor. 

I was shocked to find out our electricity bill was over $100 more than my neighbor's, who has almost an identical sized house.  This is during the summer when daytime temps are in the 80s.  I can only imagine how much I was paying to heat 500 gallons of water when it was below zero outside in the dead of winter. 

Then came the repair bills.  We had things go wrong with it before, but it had been under a five-year warranty.  That warranty has now expired, and we just found out that the electronics panel needs to be replaced to the tune of $750.  Between the utility bill, the maintenance chemicals, and now a repair bill I can't afford, I just cannot justify keeping it. So, we are investigating selling it back to the store we bought it from, or having them sell it on consignment. 

In the overall grand scheme of things, it's not a life changing event.  A hot tub is a luxury item that we can certainly live without.  The thing that makes it hard is that the hot tub was one of the very few large items that we had purchased with creative financing that we actually had followed through with a plan and paid off. 

Here we are, having to get rid of it because of all the other poor choices that we've made.  It is a reminder, twelve payments into our Debt Management Plan, that we have to constantly re-evaluate our financial situation and sacrifice when necessary, to continue to live with a budget. 

When the hot tub is taken away, I will look at the empty spot it occupied and think about all the good times we've had while sitting in the hot tub with friends and family, as well as  the relaxing late night soaks by myself gazing at the stars above.  I will also think about the future, when we are out of the grasp of unsecured credit card debt, and will hopefully be able to afford a hot tub and fill that space again. 

Do you have things that you've had a hard time giving up since you've joined the Debt Management Plan?  Share your experiences with the community! 

Related Posts: 

Life Simplification

Running the DMP Marathon


Travis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the My Journey Out of Debt blog and is a very active member of the community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Planand in his posts he shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he's learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family. Compensated CareOne Blogger.

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  • I recently started a blog about this very topic - I am also working towards becoming debt free in 2014 on a payment plan, and I've had to sacrifice almost everything I once enjoyed, but I know it will be worth it when my debt is gone. It's just really hard to stay motivated. I'm also afraid of getting comments from people like T-Bone, because I can definitely see why it might be difficult to feel sorry for someone like me as my debt is my own fault. However, I still feel that my story is worth telling. Good luck!

  • You're absolutely right, Jean.  Sales people will tell you pretty much anything to make the sale.  I made the mistake of falling into the "trust" trap with this particular salesman as it's a small, family run company in a small town.  Lesson definitely learned - I should have researched with others who owned a hot tub to get the real scoop!

  • Jerrie, great question!    I actually wrote an entry about a scenario when I had to rent a car.  I had a credit card as a backup...but didn't need to use it.  Some companies to accept debit cards...check out this link to that blog:

    As for hotels, everytime I've had to reserve a room, I've been able to use my debit card.  In a perfect world, a person could learn how to have a credit card for convenience to accomplish these things.  Unfortunately, if you're on a debt management plan, you may not have a credit card available to use at all!

  • g-dub, thank you for the great tips!    My wife and I are constantly re-evaluating our cable, phone, car expenditures, etc trying to cut more corners and save more.  Looks like you are doing the same.  Thanks again for your comment!

  • Hi Miss Independent, and congratulations on starting your blog!  I hope you don't mind - I've added it to my RSS reader as I'm interested in checking it out.  Do you have a twitter ID?  Mine is @DebtChronicles, and would be honored to follow you if you're out there.  

    Don't let difficult comments deter you from continuing your blog, and telling your story!  A person's situation may seem completely rediculous to someone else....but that's why they're "mistakes"  right?  If we had to do it over again, we'd do it differently.  

    Thank you for your comment, and I look forward to checking out your blog!

  • Travis, don't feel sorry for people like T-Bone 17 or prepare yourself for dumb comments like his.  It's not your fault.  These are the same people who complain about ticket prices at sporting events being too high yet they complain when their team doesn't pick up the LeBron type free agent every year.  It's not your fault you can afford things and they cant.  Heres some advice for T-Bone, get a job or a better paying job because the fact that you can't afford things and other people can does not make me feel sorry for you.  I don't care that you cant afford them.  Quit complaining and do something about your situation because thats what people that want things do!  We don't just sit around and wait for them to fall into our laps.  Travis is making a point about giving up material items and T-Bone has to comment on his horrible life filled with gloom.  I'm sick of people who are always trying to make others feel bad about achieving in life because they are too lazy or dumb to go out and do it for themselves.

  • Hi Travis,

    I'm @GirlNDGuideTF on twitter. Look forward to connecting with you on there!

  • Hey Rich, thanks for your comment.  As blogger has to be able to take positive comments along with the negative.  Not everyone is going to agree or identify with the post 100% of the time.  Good things can come out of negative comments as well - for instance in this case, it really made me take a good ook at my life again and re-evaluate all of the family expenses.  We asked the hard question, "is this really necessary?" for everything.  This resulted in another round of cost saving measures in my home, and more money in my pocket.

    Thanks again for commenting, I hope you will keep reading and commenting.  I look forward to hearing from you in the future!

  • Miss Independent - Awesome!  I see you have followed me, and I am now following you back!

  • By the end of the month or even before I am hungry. Hunger hurts. I used to have luxuries but now am on a limited income and a senior citizen.

  • If you had lived within your means, you would have money in the bank right now instead of credit card debt. You will never get rich by taking on loans...unless you are investing in something that will pay you back like a business.  Hot tubs don't qualify.  I'm glad you're feeling the sting of credit card debt.  Maybe now you'll finally live responsibly.

  • Thanks for taking the time to comment, Marlie.  I'm sorry that things don't seem to be going well for you.  I don't pretend to be an expert, but maybe there are organizations in your area that may be willing to lend a helping hand?  I know that my church has a program to provide meals to less fortunate senior citizens.  I hope you can find some help and relief.

  • e-z-e, you make some very truthful points.  I agonize every single day over how my life would be different today if I had lived within my means from the the start.  To tell you the truth, I'm actually glad I'm feeling the sting of credit card debt in a way too.  It's forcing my entire family to learn how to budget, and live within that budget.  It's teaching us how to save for those unplanned expenses, and for the future.  When we emerge from our Debt Management program, we will be a stronger family, and I will be a stronger leader for that family.  Thanks for sharing your  thoughts.

  • It is what experiences create a joyful life. For me, sitting in a hot tub gazing at the stars beats taking expensive vacations, eating out, etc. There are other benefits from a hot tub -- a great place to entertain friends and share the wonderful experience of being outside gazing at the starts... this ads to the life experiences of your friends. You could have explored with some friends a way to share the hot tub experiences if they would help share the costs.So, again for me, I would look at the budget to see if other expenses could be eliminated or decreased. Yes, there are people starving everywhere--  what we are talking about is how to live within our financial resources... and have joyful experiences.  I did not read  in your blog a cry for sympathy.

  • I'm so glad you shared your thoughts, Louis, as you got the point of my post.   We held on to the tub as long as we could by cutting expenses....and while the month to month maintenence costs were mounting, the last straw was the increasing amount necessary for repairs.  As the unit aged, we expected this to continue, so we figured it was time to let it go.

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