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.

Being Reminded of my Financial Mistakes

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Being Reminded of my Financial MistakesSunny, mid-seventies for highs, and absolutely no chance of rain. That kind of springtime weather forecast can only mean one thing:  Time to stain the deck. As the project neared completion, I was admiring how nice the deck looked with a fresh coat of stain. Yet something didn't feel quite right. I just couldn't bring myself to completely enjoy it.

In 2008, I was presented with a formal award at work, which came with substantial monetary compensation. Being deep in credit card debt, surely my wife and I would use the money to help pay down that debt, right? At the very least we'd put at least some of it away as an emergency fund, wouldn't we?

Nope, we decided to add a deck onto the side of our home.

First we had to think about what material to use: Cedar over the less expensive green-treated lumber, of course. 

Next, we began discussing the desired dimensions of the deck. We put sticks in the lawn outlining various potential shapes and sizes of our deck to be. I remember saying, "The last thing I want is to build the deck, and then wish I had made it bigger." So, we extended the deck out as close to the property line as the city ordinance would allow.

Replace standard wood spindles on the side rail with metal? Yes, please.

Lighting on the stairs? Absolutely. 

Nine months after having the deck built, we hit our financial breaking point, finally realized we were in over our heads, and enrolled in our debt management plan.

I then realized the source of the awkward feeling. The deck I was attempting to admire embodied everything that was wrong with how we conducted our finances for most of our married life.

  • Keeping up with the Joneses: Everyone else in our neighborhood has a deck, so we needed one.
  • Entitlement: It doesn't matter if we need it or not; we want it, so we're going to buy it.
  • Bigger and Better: If we're going to build it, go big (20x25 to be exact) with as many extras as we could get with the full award money.

As we've walked along our journey out of debt, my wife and I have simplified our lives and removed unnecessary expenses and activities, including the sale of a hot tub that also served as a bitter reminder of past financial indiscretions. 

But we can't eliminate or sell the deck. It's a permanent structure bolted to the side of our house.

It's uncomfortable for me to see that deck every time I leave for or return from work, but that's okay. I don't want that uncomfortable feeling to go away. In fact, I find the fact that the deck is visible through the deck door from our dining room table absolutely perfect.  Many of the financial discussions my wife and I have take place at that table. The deck is in plain sight-a constant reminder of past mistakes and a motivator during our budget discussions to follow a different path.

Do you have a constant reminder of your financial mistakes? How does it make you feel?

Related Links:

Do You Remember When . . .

Credit Score Euphoria and a Bedroom Set

Sacrificing to Become Debt Free

Life Simplification

Travis Pizel, My Journey Out of Debt Customer Blogger for CareOne Services, Inc. Travis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the My Journey out of Debt blog and is a very active member of the CareOne community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Travis very 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 follow along with Travis on his personal blog, Our Journey to Zero. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

Follow Travis on Twitter @DebtChronicles

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  • Oh yes, some of our items are still around like the larger than life TV and the entertainment center to go along with it. And some things are long gone, like the F-150 Supercrew that drained our pockets with expensive repairs and gas.  I truly believe that the reason we have not moved to the flat screen or HD TV is because of the constant reminder of the money we spent years ago purchasing the ultimate entertainment package.  By today's standards it would be considered outdated since it doesn't hang from the hall, but by our standards, it works perfectly and serves as a reminder of the debt we incurred to have it.

  • I think we all have regrets.  At the same time we learned a lot by joining CareOne.  And soon all of the debt we went into will be paid in full.  Soon we will be able to purchase things we want with cash that we saved for those wants.  Those will be the things we will look at and be proud that we did it the right way!!  

    I have to be honest the only thing I own that was purchased on credit is my bed.  Everything else I own was things I obtained from people getting rid of the items.  I do not regret buying my expensive bed, because it is the only bed I could find that I could actually sleep on before I had my neck surgery!  Now that I have had my surgery I probably don't need such an expensive bed but I still love it as I sleep so well at night!!

  • Ah, the big TV...I know that story as well, MotherofOne!  I've got an LCD big screen that we purchased when we moved into our current home that we are most likely still paying for on our Best Buy account - which is in our DMP.    I had forgotten about that.  

    If I can't enjoy watching football this fall because all I think about is debt when I look at the TV, you and I are going to have to have a serious discussion.......LOL.

  • What a great reminder, mdavis1964, that in the not too distant future things will be much different.  I'm generally not a "look backwards" kind of guy.....I'd rather look forward - and I have SO much to look forward to.  :)

  • Yes, t_pizel you do have so much to look forward to in the near future.  Something we never thought about before joining CareOne.  Or at least I know I didn't!!

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