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.