Being in debt was one of the worst periods of my life. It felt like someone was standing over me every day with a hand out just waiting to take my paycheck. I woke up thinking about it. I spent all day worrying about it. I stayed up all night thinking of ways to get rid of it. Debt consumed my life for over 4 years. I’m writing this in hopes that reading about my journey will help someone else cope with their situation. One of the things that gave me the most encouragement was reading about others who had been in the same situation, or worse, and managed to shake free.
Debt: The Origin Story
It’s really hard to remember every detail of how I actually got myself into this situation. It’s not like I kept detailed records of the debt as it piled up. If I would have been doing that I probably wouldn’t have built up the debt in the first place. Getting married is what really started our big debt spiral. My wife and I didn’t really have much financial help paying for the wedding. The little money that I did have saved up was used to pay for an engagement ring. So that meant that every expense had to be charged to one of several credit cards that I had. We didn’t go overboard with our wedding, but still managed to spend over $14,000.
Snowballing out of Control
After the wedding the debt just started to snowball every month. We moved into a small studio apartment because that’s all that we could afford, but since we didn’t have any money saved we used credit cards to purchase furniture. Then my wife had some unexpected school expenses that had to be paid right away that set us back over $3,000. There was a surprise trip to the emergency room along with other extremely high medical bills. Combined with all of this, there was just a lot of irresponsible behavior. We did a horrible job of tracking our expenses and continued to spend more than we earned, all on credit cards. It’s difficult to pay off your credit card when you’re charging more than the payment you make each month.
The Mental & Physical Toll of Debt
Having a large sum of debt isn’t just hard on your finances. It can also take a huge mental and physical toll. I would spend months being diligent and tracking every expense, making small but significant progress, only to have an emergency or financial mistake undo all that hard work. It was crushing. It felt like I would never experience life without a credit card payment. During the day, I would sit at my desk frustrated by the salary I was making, thinking my life would be so much better if I could find a way to make more money. At night, I would spend hours researching the best balance transfer offers because the zero interest promotion on one of my credit cards was going to expire. The constant focus on our debt was so tiring. I needed something to change.
How Has Debt Impacted Your Life
This post is getting pretty long and I’m already approaching my word limit. I will continue my debt story in the next post with how I got myself out from under this $27,000 debt monster. In the meantime, please let me know if you can relate to my experience and how it made you feel. You can leave a comment below or contact me via Instagram, Twitter or the Contact Me page .