One of the reasons that we have found it hard to talk to people about our financial situation is because of the “how” – sometimes it’s really painful to accept that you are the reason that your life is hard and that you have made foolish decisions. Although, I think it is harder to change poor habits than it is to just accept responsibility, but you can’t change until you accept the reality.
The reality is that we did this to ourselves.
That’s tough and it sucks, but it’s time to put on our big kid pants and accept that it was our lack of discipline that brought us to this point.
Admittedly, there were some things that happened to us that made it all even more difficult (cancer, job loss, etc.), but we would have been able to deal with those so much more easily if we hadn’t already been in such bad shape. So what mis-steps can we identify?
- Living beyond our means :: we moved away from our parents in the first year of marriage and out of a sense of guilt, we managed to travel “back home” almost every two months for two years. This is after moving to West Los Angeles – a very expensive place to live – and we started to rack up a ton of debt, all the while excusing it because we felt it was “worth it” to see our families.
- No accountability :: we didn’t set up any type of monitoring system, either internal or external, to hold us accountable for the debt we were amassing. Whenever I confronted my husband about using a credit card for food, we’d get into a fight about the fact that we were too busy to cook and that we didn’t have the cash flow. And my husband is a wonderful, sweet guy who wants me to have whatever I want, so he wasn’t about to tell me no and my spending went un-checked.
- Lack of a budget :: we didn’t have firm financial goals and I would set up un-realistic budgets that we couldn’t meet. I’d feel overwhelmed with work, school, community service and didn’t find a good way to ask for help from those who better at taking a realistic look at life. The irony is that I created and maintained budgets for several non-profits, and they were never a problem – I just couldn’t get it together for my own family.
I know there are more, but this is enough for now. Soon, I’ll write about how we’re starting to address these particular issues and get ourselves on a better path.