It might seem like because I quit my job and am staying home now that we have had an easy path.
Yes, we are very lucky and grateful for our current situation. I truly do realize that raising a family on one income isn’t always possible, and that not everyone has a partner to tackle life and family with. And that not everyone wants to stay at home.
There are many layers and experiences that got us to this point.
Last week, I wrote a little bit about my personal rock bottom financially. At the end of that post, I wrote about how I had gotten a job at my dream company with a lot of room for advancement and had fallen in love with the person meant for me.
I still wasn’t in good shape financially though.
My divorce, DUI, and relocation to a new city had left my credit cards maxed out. I had $7,500 of high interest credit card debt that I was carrying with me into my new marriage and dream job. The monthly payment on it was more than my car payment.
Brian had $25,000 in student loan debt and about $2,500 in credit card debt. We both had credit scores in the 600s at the time.
While engaged and after getting married, we were basically living paycheck to paycheck. We had more than enough to live comfortably, but what I mean is that we spent everything that came in each month.
We weren’t careful with our money or focused on a savings plan.
We were young, just beginning to find some success in our careers (Brian was further along than me in this area), and we were enjoying dinners out, date nights, and we weren’t thinking about money very much. We were renting a little place within walking distance to all the downtown bars and restaurants.
And then we had a baby on the way.
As the months of my pregnancy went on, a sense of panic started growing – where would we bring our baby home to? Our home was too small. We wanted our baby to have their own room.
We started looking for a new place to rent with a second bedroom (because buying a home felt out of the question; it wasn’t even a thought).
In our area, housing was expensive. The homes to rent within our budget were really old construction. A memory sticks out to me of looking at a home that was built somewhere around the 1940s. It was grimy; it had the original clawfoot tub and it wasn’t charming – it was filthy. We absolutely could not imagine our baby in that place. And it was at the top of our budget.
It was defeating.
Brian pushed us to widen our search to include homes within a thirty-minute commute to our workplaces. There was a new community being built with a mix of condos and single-family homes. They were hosting an open house, so we went to check it out. My first impression: I hated it. The homes were built closely together, and I liked the area we were living in at the time (even though we couldn’t afford a bigger place of the quality we liked). Brian’s first impression: he thought it was perfect for us; new construction, plenty of square footage, walking paths and playgrounds throughout the neighborhood.
Looking back, I was being immature with my dislike for the neighborhood, and I feel grateful that Brian was able to look big picture.
After thinking about it for a week or two, we decided to make a leap… we signed the sales contract and put down a deposit on a condo without knowing where our down payment would come from. Crazy, right? We had a few months to get it, and we were determined to piece it together.
We were excited. We were scared. We were nervous that it was a mistake, and that we’d discover we couldn’t actually afford it. On paper, we had enough monthly income to afford the payment.
Where the hell was our money going then, anyway?
I’d like to say that it was at that moment that we got our act together financially. But that isn’t true. Yes, we were able to get into our first house right before our son was born – it felt like a big accomplishment. It was a big accomplishment!
Things hadn’t really changed for us though – we had the same credit card debt, the same student loan debt, and the same poor spending habits as when we were renting.
Things were about to shift for us.
We had no idea at the time, but our son being born had started to turn us down a path of mastering our finances. It would take hitting rock bottom in our family finances to get motivated to turn things around.
Next week, I’ll share about that rock bottom, and what we started to implement to decrease our debt and increase our income. Keep an eye out for Finances, Part II.