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.

Breakthrough - I Finally Get it!

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Breakthrough - I Finally Get it!Have you ever had one of those moments where you just "got" something?  Where you had been struggling so badly for so long, and then all of a sudden the light bulb turned on and it all just made perfect sense? 

I had one of those moments very recently.

Earlier in the summer our family went on vacation. We didn't do a very good job of keeping track of our expenditures, and overspent. When we returned, and I sat down to reconcile the bank account and do the next round of bills, I found out the magnitude of what had happened. I started to play the "just how late can I pay a bill and not have them start calling me at home" game." I also played a round or two of the "asking for an extension of my due date" game.  

You may know these games. They're not particularly fun games to play.

The worst part is, feeling ashamed that I had failed yet again; I didn't tell my wife. I've talked frequently about improvements that my wife and I have made in regard to communicating with each other and budgeting together. What I didn't make very clear was that this really only applied to our discretionary spending. Over the last 3 years, I continued to handle paying all the bills, and then Vonnie and I would discuss what we were going to do with the money left over.  

If you've played these games before, you know that eventually a letter comes in the mail, a phone call is received to discuss your bill, or to confirm your latest move in the game. When this finally occurred my wife was absolutely livid, and rightfully so.

We talked for hours about where we were truly at financially, budgeting, and trust. We decided that she should be involved in every aspect of the finances. Ok, she demanded, but the point is that we sat down and listed everything out...together. Every bill, balance, and date along with income amounts and when they show up.

Ding. The light bulb came on. 

This is the way is needs to be. Maybe not for everyone, but for us it is. She would rather have me do the grunt work of actually paying the bills, and doing the math associated with doing the finances. But if I'm going to let pride get in the way of doing the right thing, then I need Vonnie there as a system of checks and balances to double check all the bills are getting paid on time and the numbers add up.

Together we came up with a plan to dig ourselves out of the hole we were in. It would take two pay cycles, and things would be tight, but we knew we could do it.    

This may seem like common sense, but for two people who are ingrained in their ways and have never known anything different, changing perspective is a difficult thing to accomplish.

Every day my wife checks the latest status of our finances through our online banking portal. Reconciling debits that were posted overnight, and asking questions to double check our available funds. It's refreshing, liberating, and stress reducing.

Why couldn't it always have been this way?

Related Links:

How I Began My Journey Out of Debt

Running the DMP Marathon

Taking Control....The Whiteboard Budget

 

Travis Pizel, CareOne Services, Inc. Debt Management Plan Customer BloggerTravis 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

Follow Travis on Google + by clicking here!

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  • Wow, Congratulations to you and Vonnie.  It truly IS a breakthrough, and what a milestone for you to see how even the tiniest bit of "pride" can de-rail us.  Accountability is so vital in every relationship,  and for couples navigating through this rocky journey of getting out of debt, it's so crucial that every card be on the table, and every question answered, so that we move through it "as one" and in complete agreement.  You're right, it is liberating to have everything shared, and it makes the burden lighter when both people are equally carrying it.  Some of us are just BORN protectors and we just naturally take on responsibilities that will lessen the load on our partners.  There's certainly merit in that, but sometimes we don't realize that we have great untapped support resources right next to us who are eager and able to help and support us.  The journey becomes so much easier when we allow ourselves to be strengthened.

  • Sometimes it's really hard to see the "right" thing.  I know deep down in side I'm a control freak, so I try to do this with my fiance: every two weeks, we sit down and look at the budget.  He needs to know and he's my checks and balences system.  I tend to go gung ho and not let him in on the plan with just a casually muttered "going to be tight this pay period".  He's gotten into the habit of asking me why-if it's for a good reason (and good is said semi sarcastically as the last time it was due to our car needing emergency work) he'll let it slide.  If it's "I just felt like cutting out everything to try to get us more savings/debt payoff" we talk about it and try to compromise.

  • Travis they say baby steps will get you far.  You and Vonnie have learned so much during your journey out of debt!!  You should be proud of all the accomplishments the two of you have made!!  I know when I was on vacation it was so hard not cut out some of the funds I had budgeted to pay on my debt just so I could go out and have fun.  This journey out of debt is one of the most difficult things I have ever done.  At the same time it was such a great learning experience.  

    I honestly appreciate how you share the difficulties and share solutions!!  You truly are an inspiration to a lot of us on the plan!!

  • Well said, conradsmom!  Just this evening, Vonnie signed onto our online banking and noted the balance was higher than what she thought it should be.  She called me downstairs, I pulled out the checkbook register and we went through together what expenditures hadn't posted to the account yet.  We were dead on to the penny.  As I logged off, I said "This is SO much less stressful when we both know exactly what is going on."  She smiled and raised her hand for a high five.  As I went to slap her hand she pulled it away and gave me a kiss instead.  Who said finances couldn't be fun?  :)

  • I know those kinds of conversations well, bogofdebt......except I would simply say, "We'll be fine...we'll just have to figure it out." Except "figure it out" usually meant me laying in bed at night staring at the ceiling wondering how we were going to get to the next payday without me having to tell her we were stretched really thin.  Thinking back, that was the stupidest thing I could have possibly done.  NOTHING good can come from leaving the other person in the dark....especially when money is tight.  I look back over the last 16 years and think of what could have been.....then I look forward and imagine what's to come.  I like the view facing forward much better!

  • My problem, mdavis1964 is that I have no issues with spending money just to have fun.  LOL.  I find it rather ironic that my very first post that I ever wrote talks about communication (or lack of) being my downfall.  I thought I had it all figured out....and that was in March of 2010.    It took awhile longer, and a few more lessons to really get my head screwed on straight, but I honestly think it's there now.  So I agree, this journey has been extremely hard - but out of that pain and learning will result in financial responsibility, and a marriage so tight that there's nothing we can't accomplish!

  • I am the "Bill Payer" of the house. My husband would be happy to leave it to me completely. He would LOVE it if I would just give him some money and take care of the rest. I refuse. Finances are a huge responsibility. I don't want it alone. If we have trouble I do not want it to be my fault. He would never say that but I would feel it. I am willing to do the grunt work (good way of putting it!) of paying the bills and working out the budget since he works and I am home. Plus, frankly I am WAY better at it. The compromise it that once I am done he has to sit down with me and we go over everything. I note questions and options while I work so he can see my thought process. I know that basically he is always going to agree with everything I say (15 years of marriage and he still thinks I am pretty close to perfect LOL) but sometimes he has a suggestion I did not think about or remembers something I forgot (I forgot to budget money in for Mother's Day last year). It makes me feel like we are partners and I am not in this alone.

  • It sounds like you and your husband have found a system that works, kimmer5000!  It sounds very similar to what Vonnie and I's system is turning into.  Thanks for sharing your experience with the Community!

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