A Straight Talk on Debt

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Long Distance Budget

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Sitting on a couch in my hotel room in Houston, my computer startled me by making the high-pitched chirp indicating my wife was summoning me via Skype. I answered the call with video to see her leaning towards the laptop camera rubbing her head.


"We have a problem," she said. "We forgot to budget in a present for the birthday party Tori is invited to next Saturday."

I was on my way to India for a two-week business trip. Prior to leaving, we had done our budget and spending plan for the duration of my trip.

Still recovering from July's overspending, we were on a strict budget.

We needed to have a budget discussion immediately, but our discussions normally involve sitting next to each other with a notebook, our checkbook register, and a computer. I had taken the checkbook register with me, she had the notebook in which we had written our spending plan, and we were across the country from each other. 

Undeterred by the obstacles in front of us, we launched into a long-distance budgeting session. 

Using Skype's capabilities, not only was Vonnie able to read to me the items and amounts in our spending plan, but she could simply hold it up and show me. We worked our way through the spending plan looking for things to cut in order to send a gift with Tori to her friend's birthday party. Shaving a few dollars off the gas budget, removing a few unnecessary items off of the grocery list, and the realization that a small mystery shopping job had been paid earlier than expected provided the funds necessary to make the birthday party happen.

Had this situation occurred even a few months ago, my wife probably would have just gone and purchased a gift. 

She would have told me about it during our next phone conversation to which I would have replied, "We'll figure it out." By "We'll figure it out," I really meant we'd ignore it until we got to the end of the two weeks and then go into crisis mode, scrambling to stretch the available funds to make it to the next payday.

In my very first post ever I talked about how communication was the key to successfully handling our finances as a couple. It's taken us over three years to fully execute that realization.

Distance may make the heart grow fonder, but budget discussions cannot wait.

Related Links:

How I Began My Journey Out of Debt

Taking Control....The Whiteboard Budget 

3 Years in the Debt Management Plan, Still Learning...

Travis Pizel, Blogger and CareOne Services, Inc. Debt Management Plan Customer 

Travis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the My Journey out of Debt and A Straight Talk on Debt blogs. He is also a very active member of the CareOne community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Travis candidly 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. You can also read more from Travis on the Enemy of Debt blog, where he is a featured blogger. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

Follow Travis on Twitter @DebtChronicles

To connect with Travis on Google+ click here:

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  • Look at all the progress you and Vonnie have made in the past 3 years.  Not only on paying down your debt, but in the communications field!!  You continue to impress me!!  :-)

  • This is exactly why I think most people are simply lazy rather than "unable" to get their acts together when t comes to stuff like this.  There are always excuses like our schedules conflict, there isn't enough time to dedicate to it, blah, blah, blah.  Next time I see or hear some lame excuse I'm sending those people to read this post Travis!

  • Communication is key! Maybe I'm wrong, but doesn't Skype have a screen sharing capability? We used to put our budget on Dropbox, so we could both see it on any device. I too have uttered the words, "We'll figure it out...to many times" I'll remember your article when I say that next time and hopefully reverse my decisions.

  • The really cool thing, mdavis1964, is that as soon as we completed our session, I realized the meaning of what had just happened.  Literally watching ourselves break out of the habits we kept for so many years, do something completely different, and handle a "situation" like this was very satisfying to me. :)

  • You know, Eric, we just got sick and tired of continuing to make those excuses, and having to live with the consequences.  We were coming off of a very challenging month where we had some regression in how we handled our finances.  At this point it's just a "We're gonna make this work.  Period." attitude.  Thanks for your comment - great to hear from you!

  • Oh, I'm not sure if Skype has  screen sharing capability or not....I admittedly have not checked out all it's features - but that would really be awesome!  The phrase, "We'll figure it out" makes me cringe.  It really meant things were not OK, and I'd have to find some swizzle (that usually hurt us financially long run) to stay afloat in the short term.

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