Friday, April 17, 2009

Money Talks

Tara and I got married stupid. Young and in love and very financially stupid. Beyond the furniture, clothes and nicknacks, we brought the baggage of debt with us as we lit out in this new life together, thirteen years ago. What made our first year difficult was coming to terms with the stress of our mismanagement.

First to go were the golf clubs, they paid for food. Next went the CD collection and the CD player, keeping the lights on. Something got sold just to get the account back to zero, because overdraft fees come monthly. When the car broke down, I lost it.

Chains or financial destitution wrapped tight, pulling us like an anchor and every attempt at reaching the surface, slid us deeper still. Our dollars stretched so tight, poor George got headaches. Forget chasing our dreams, we were fighting for our lives.

The long plod towards liquidating our debt, felt like an impossible climb at times. It has been several years since we finally bought our freedom and I can honestly say we would not have been able to do make many of the decisions we made the last several years if it had not started with a decision to eliminate our debt. 

There is a whole lot more to wealth than money, but its harder to find in bondage.

I sat in a workshop today to expose teens to life in the real world. They had a chance to learn about banking, budgeting, car buying and interviewing and then put their new skills into play in as they navigated an experiential real world. As we debriefed afterwards, several kids ended the day in debt, chasing what they felt they needed. One kid, wise beyond his years, shared, "There are things no one ever tells you until you get there, and then it's too late." 

Too true. Too sad.

11 comments:

Daniel said...

Boy, you have been from the outhouse to the penthouse at various points in your adult life. I guess staying in one place too long would be boring, huh?

Dot-Com said...

The unfortunate thing is you can't ever really learn from other peoples' mistakes...

Anonymous said...

We had the dreaded money talks with our kids many times, and it paid off for one of them, since she was able to save a good chunk of each paycheck, budget and buy her own little home in her twenties like we did. The other kid is chronically in debt to everyone, loving that old "purchase therapy." When someone justifies debt and bad spending habits and says they don't care, it is worrisome.

Lola said...

I'm visiting here via Lizzy Frizzfrock's.

Very interesting post, much in the spirit of everyone's concern at these times of hardship.

May I come back to visit these pages?

Ciao

Katherine said...

I ate nothing but peanut butter for a month when I was young and in needless debt. That taught me an enduring lesson. Odd thing. Peanut butter still reminds me to stay on budget.

Marianna said...

So true...

the system relays on a buy-sell 'relationship'. We watched a cartoon movie with my students the other day with the underlying message of sellers telling and making people feel bad about themselves in order to 'sell' them a new life 'lifting' (why be you when you can be new). So scary if you think about what is happening today...

It is important to talk to young people about the future and what they should expect.
Great post Brian lol

Baino said...

I did it in reverse fell from fortune to debt. I'm still battling credit cards and a personal loan but made easier now that my little socialist household is contributing to get it all under control. Mine have learned a valuable lesson from my own folly! Thoughtful post there Brian.

Brian Miller said...

as @daniel pointed out I have been there and back again, rich and poor when it has come to money. while i don't think it will buy you happiness, having a little creates the space (mentally and emotionally) for it to happen. at least it cuts the friendly calls out from our good friends at the financial institutions. lol.

@katherine...PB and budgeting, usually like mine with jelly, but i'll give it a try. lol. thanks for the comments and sharing your experience.

@anonymous...finally an anonymous comment I agree with.

@daniel...i guess i do tend to mix it up every so often. keeps it interesting i guess.

Megan said...

I need to sit down and have a long talk with myself about the budget. I don't have any credit cards, but I don't have any savings, either. Grasshopper, not an ant. I need to change that. Or at least balance it a bit more...

California Girl said...

I was completely unprepared for the responsibilities of marriage and bills. I had really gone from my father's house to sharing one with my husband even though I supported myself through my last year of college. But that was way different than what our first years of marriage entailed. What a shock!

Home Economics ought to be about just that: the bills you incur and balancing your checkbook against everything. You are correctly exposing students to the real challenges of every day life.

Kelsey said...

Exactly why we're not married yet.
Thanks for the post - It's nice to see I'm not the only one who would have / does have trouble with this sort of thing.
No debt here - but there certainly would have been if we had decided to get married this October as planned.

-Kels