If you haven't read Part One here is a brief synopsis: Debt is stupid. We don't like it. It is screwing up our dreams and that is dumb. So, how exactly did we get in debt over $100,000 between 2006-2013? The same way everyone else does, we went to college and borrowed some money!
I went to college not knowing anything and I left college knowing "a" thing. And out of the many things I did not learn, the most important was how to manage my own money. Up until recently I saw money as just a bunch of numbers. And my main concern was to stay above zero. So when applying to colleges I didn't know what to do. Save money? Impossible, money is for spending, silly! Every paycheck I made in high school went to a new guitar pedal, or to seeing Blink-182 in concert. By the time I had to seriously think about paying for college I had maybe $7.00 in my bank account. Luckily, I received a small scholarship for a small amount of money which lasted a small amount of time - so my family and I had to find another way to pay for the rest.
The only option I had was to borrow money. That's what you have to do when you don't have any, and I did it because it was easy. Like suuuuuper easy. That's why more people go into debt than getting out of it, it's so goddamned easy! (I have no figures to prove that, I just made it up) I took out loans for seven out of eight semesters. It was cool though because I wouldn't have to start paying them off for like another four years, that's a lifetime! Midway through college I still had no concept of debt or what it would mean to be deep in it, so I started using credit cards (you know, free money!) I used them to pay for everyday things and for taking my girlfriend on super fancy dates. I maxed out a couple of cards pretty quickly, and again super easily.
After college Keri and I moved to Boston. A new city, a new bank, and oh cool a new credit card! Unlike college though this one I used for emergencies only, like car trouble. Sadly, we had a lot of car trouble which then turned into buying a car trouble which then turned into more debt added to our giant pile. It's a little scary to me now that I realize what these numbers actually mean. They aren't just numbers, they are obstacles. I essentially borrowed a chore. In September Keri and I started a 'real' life together and I don't want this to slow us down. I want to be able to build a home and pop out a couple dumb kids. And from what I hear kids need money. I've even started saving my pennies, the grossest of the coin family.
My debt story is a little different. I have always been a numbers person. My dad is an accountant, I was on my high school math league (Go Mathletes!), and since I was about 10 my mom has been teaching me how to build good credit and cut coupons. So obviously when it comes to money I'm always frugal and save up anything I can get my hands on.
I knew that when I graduated college I was inevitably going to endure the burden of student loans. Thankfully my parents were able to pay a good portion of them off while I was still in school so my final debt wasn't too high. All together I owed about $20,000. This was supposed to take me 30 years to pay off when you add in interest. That blew my mind... for the next 30 years I will be paying $51/month to Sallie May and over $250/month to some other place. My instincts (and parents) told me that I needed to start chipping away at that amount early so I started paying an extra $30/month immediately.
My situation was manageable so it was easy for me to forget that I was even paying these bills at all. Plus I felt pretty smart that I was paying a little extra (though that might have only taken a few years off at most). So I turned my head the other way and started focusing on a savings. Living at home for a year, having a “small” amount of debt and no credit card bills to pay off (I have always been against credit) allowed me to save a good chunk of money to start a life with Dylan.
His more lackadaisical approach to money became more apparent and frustrating (no offense Dyl). It started making its way into our everyday conversations and was slowly becoming my #1 concern. He hated talking about money and it turned into a pretty big obstacle in our relationship. Eventually (after my constant nagging) Dylan opened up about the fact that managing money was not his strength. He told me very elegantly that "money is dumb". So we started working together to get his finances under control. When we decided to get married we knew we were going to continue learning about how to keep that a priority (though we really had no idea what that meant).
At first it was about budgeting our life around our bills. The typical “what ever is left over after we pay XYZ goes to ABC. But as time went on our bills got more difficult to work around. Rent went up, we needed a car, we needed insurance for that car AND insurance for ourselves. If this is what it means to be an adult than I don't want it. We both basically live paycheck to paycheck and are watching our bank accounts dwindle.
There are only two ways I see out of this: win the lottery or systematically get rid of our debt as quick as possible. Yes OUR debt... what’s Dylan’s is mine and what's Dylan's is mine. We are in this together no matter what percentage of this $100,00 is “mine” (even though my percentage is MUCH less and I clearly win).
**Check back next Friday for the final Prologue piece: Prologue Part Three: $$$$**