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 bought a tub once and was immediately grossed out by the care and maintenance pamphlet.  It stated that two people in a hot tub is the equivalent to 300 people in a regular sized swimming pool. That was enough for me. I don't think I used it more than ten times after that.

  • Great idea, JazzyJezzy!  One other thing I do (to ensure there are left overs when we go out to eat), is to cut whatever I order in half, and immediately get a "to go" box.  This helps reduce the size of your portion as well - as restaurants typically give you way more food than any single person should be eating anyway.

  • dave, I don't necessarily disagree with you...but a hot tub circulation pump probably also circulates the water through the filters with a much higher frequency than a regular sized swimming pool - I have no proof of that, however.  In any case, I was more concerned with the cost of maintaining and cost of use of the hot tub than anything else.  Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  • I giving up Direct tv and going netflix ..That means no sports and its only because Direct tv cost me 80 bucks a month ..but I grew up on the east coast and now live on the west......I am a Yankee and Rangers fan come on out here at 1:pm or 4:pm who the hell watches hockey at 4 pm ..its to early to start drinking beers so you need a dvr and the wife needs her own tv...and on and on and on ..we both stopped driving (Im down to 10 miles a week ) we are lucky enough to be able to walk to work.....we never go out to eat I have had sushi once !!! in the last 2 yrs!!!! .so now I will not even have sports ...what the hell else should I give up......????? theres a point when its just not worth it ....BETTER to die broke then to live a life thats just SO FREAKING BORING ,..AND DO NOT TELL ME TO READ ...I just read Henry James "the tragic muse" and Im working on EAST OF EDEN I have read CRIME AND PUNISHMENT ...IS IT NOT PUNISHMENT ENOUGH ????????   and the reading list goes on and on and on........and the car is just to get to places That I have to get too bringing my dog to the vet today...or maybe I should just give up my dog.....the American Dream is officially a NIGHTMARE!!!!!

  • Hi Joe from hell, I'm sorry to hear that things are not going well for you.  I don't pretend to be a qualified to give professional financial advice, which is probably what you need at this point.  I would recommend talking to a credit counselor, or a financial planner to help you decide what to do to potentially help you improve your quality of life.  I wish you all the luck and success.

  • I understand.  I am in almost complete with my 2nd year and I will still working with my wife to maintain our budget.  It is truly a challenge to work hard and still just scrape by and still provide a stable home for my wife and kids!  3 more years and I plan to make better decisions.

  • msmccree, we must have started our programs at about the same time as I also have about 3 years left.  I look forward to the day that the money I send each month to pay off my debt stays in my bank account instead.  That, combined with better decisions (as you stated), will make things soooo much easier.  Thanks again for your comment!

  • I use a non profit debt management company. when I lost my job the end of 2009. The credit card companies raised my interest rate so high I could not keep up. But since I started using the debt management company I was able to start a saving account. I have had a few set backs recently with car problems and such. But was able to use my saving to take care of those issues.

  • Hey t_pizel! How are you? I've been following your blogs and love the stories. I truly think many members can relate to your Journey out of Debt stories.  With all things considered, I believe we can always take away something from your stories.  I appreciate that. Solely on "Sacrificing to become Debt Free" I agree with those positive comments, from which I would personally summarized to, your story should be taken advantage of as a leading point for people to reflect upon their budget, expenses, and spending habits; not just owning a hot tub.   I do believe most Americans are not living within our means, I myself included. Credit card has always been so easily accessible.  Most people don't think twice about how to many it until that "awakening moment."  I see it everyday from my current line of work.  I personal am grateful for the experience of being in debt and undergoing DMP.  Because from it, I have learned to REALLY value my hard-earned money and taught myself to be smarter and more disciplined when it comes to my money and debt. So, thanks Travis for sharing your experiences!

  • Thanks for sharing our thoughts, michaelk!  My experience is similar to yours, except my credit card companies didn't raise my interest rates as much as they changed their policy raising the minimum monthly payment from 1% of the balance to 2.5%.  That would have sunk us.  By enrolling in the DMP, we were able to negotiate a lower interest rate, and keep our monthly payments manageable.

  • Hi mslbp81, I'm doing great!  Glad to hear you've been following the blogs.....they are very therapeutic for me to write, and it's nice to know that others get something out of them as well.  I believe you have summed up the point of my entry perfectly!  I read your member bio, and want to congratulate you on being a graduate of the DMP!  I look forward to the day when I will be an alumni as well.  It sounds crazy, but I am also beginning to see the positive side going through this experience.  My wife and I are communicating better than ever, we are learning better and better ways of managing our finances, and when we complete the program, we will be credit card debt free!  Thanks for the kind words, and please keep reading and commenting!

  • "Look forward to being debt free and out of the grasp of unsecured credit card debt," then re-buy junk.

    This financial analyst will be suited for more columns on being a credulous consumer.

  • I can certainly understand your comment, Maxice.  I do not claim to be a financial analyst, however.  I am just a regular guy with a family that overspent and is working to get out of debt.   I must say that looking back at the whole "hot tub" ownership experience now, I would think long and hard about spending my money on another one.  However, should I decide to do so, I would save my money and purchase it with cash instead of taking out a loan  which is what I did the first time.  The point is that once out of debt, I don't pretend that I won't buy non-essential items - but I will do so within my means.  Thanks again for your thoughts!

  • No, I don't have a hard time giving up anything for my debt management plan, because I don't have stupid debt.

    I don't have sympathy for clowns like this.  Here is the reality -- you're getting what's been long coming to you. You're finally learning what it means to manage your money and be fiscally responsible. Hopefully you'll pass these values onto your children and they'll do a better job.

    BTW,  I'm almost turning 30, and just bought my first house in SF, putting down almost 250k and still have another 100k in savings.  I have made 60k for most of my 10 year career and believe me, I've never lived stingy. I just bought things that mattered.  Hot tubs never mattered.

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Alex - I find it very inspiring that there are people that can practice such fiscal responsibility as to be able to save up $350,000 in 10 years!  Once I have paid off my debt certainly hope to be able to start fresh and begin working on a large next egg of my own.  

    I would, however, like to point out that your level of savings (while certainly admirable) is in the minority in this country.  This online community is specifically for people that are in debt, and are looking for support as they dig their way out, and hopefully move on to better and more financially responsible lives.

    Thanks again for your comment, and I wish you success in continuing with such a level of savings!

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