032: Our $27,000 Debt Story – Part 1

Hey, I'm Chris.

I'm a former Analyst, Podcaster, and Producer. My goal is to help you understand your finances better in about the time it takes to make a bag of popcorn!

Last week on episode 031, I sat down with Liz Weston of NerdWallet.com & AskLizWeston.com to discuss sharing your debt story.  So this week I thought that it would only be appropriate for me to share my personal debt story.  But this was not mine journey alone.  So that is why my wife “K” agreed to join me on today’s episode.  Listen to part 1 of our conversation as we discuss how we got in to over $27,000 in debt.

Hear Our full story

Check out Part 2 & Part 3 of our $27,000 Debt Story

Click here to view one of my earlier blog posts on how debt affected our lives

Full Transcript

Chris: [00:00:12] Hey this is Chris, hope you are doing well, and welcome to Popcorn Finance where we discuss finance in about the time it takes to make a bag of popcorn. This is take number 15 because someone was looking at me in the eyes and it’s making it very difficult for me to keep a straight face.

Chris: [00:00:28] But thanks for joining me and before we jump into the episode and I say who this guest is, I want to say thanks to a “PERS” who was the winner of our Popcorn Finance Black Friday giveaway. “PERS” is the name she goes by because she wants stay anonymous. But I just want to say thanks and if you go to PopcornFinance.com/BlackFriday you can see her listed there, you can see what happened for the contest, you can even listen to the episode that I posted. I just did a quick Black Friday giveaway to encourage people not to go out and stay in so “PERS” won the Netflix gift card. So that’s already on its way to her, hopefully she’s got a chance to to check that out and try in.

Chris: [00:01:02] In last week’s episode I had the opportunity to speak with Liz Weston of Nerd Wallet and we were talking about debt stories and just the power of sharing your debt story and kind of letting other people see how you’ve dealt with it, what you’ve gone through and how impactful and empowering that can be. So I thought it’d be a good idea to not only share my debt story but to share it with the person who went through it with me. So I have my wife here will call her “K”. We will leave her anonymous unless you want to say your name. Do you want to be out there for the world to know who you are.

K: [00:01:35] “K” is fine. “K” is good.

Chris: [00:01:37] OK we’ll leave you as “K” I’m joined here by my wife Kay. How are you doing?

K: [00:01:41] I’m great. How are you?

Chris: [00:01:42] I’m good. Doing good. It has taken as very many times to start recording this because I get very nervous recording and it’s even more nerve racking when you’re here watching me record.

K: [00:01:54] Of course it is.

Chris: [00:01:55] It’s a little nerve wracking. Thanks for sitting with me anyways because I think it’s good for us to be talking about this. And I think you add a different perspective than I would just because you know I experienced it in one way but you know maybe you saw things a much different way than I did. So you know we’ll just talk about it together.

K: [00:02:13] Great.

Chris: [00:02:14] All right so I actually wrote a blog post really early on in the history of the website and on there I talk about you know how we got into debt and kind of struggles and things that were going on. And so I also linked to that in the show notes for this episode so you can check that out. But in there I mention that our debt started with our wedding because we were relatively debt free before that you know I had had some debt before that but got rid of it before the wedding. And so that was like our starting off point. And so you know we are planning our wedding and we we kind of went pretty I think pretty reasonable on the cost. We didn’t go overboard or anything. But the wedding and the honeymoon put us into about I think by sixteen thousand dollars in debt. And so I know for myself I want to say there are some things I would change about that I would try to go a little bit cheaper to save more money but I know my wife “K” she did most of the work on it. So I know that you already did a lot of the searching and looking and did a lot of work to get it down to that cost. So you know how easy for me to say I will go cheaper but what do you think about that? Is there anything that you would change or do differently about that whole time you know planning for the wedding?

K: [00:03:28] I definitely would do a couple of things differently. For one I probably would spend money more strategically I think for the things that really stood out and that we would value. For example flowers are really important to me. And there was this specific theme and way I wanted it to look. And we spent more money on that because that’s what I envisioned. But the florist didn’t actually deliver what I wanted. And we spent a lot of money to be disappointed. And I think if we had just DIY it it probably could have been better than what she delivered.

Chris: [00:04:09] I remember you being very disappointed. I had no idea that she had messed up I though that was how it was supposed to look so it didn’t bother me but I remember afterwards you told me that you were very disappointed and you said she did not do what it was that she said she was going to do.

K: [00:04:22] Yeah definitely.

Chris: [00:04:26] So you’re saying that DIYing a little bit more them than you already did on the wedding. And you know do you feel like you enjoyed the wedding and the honeymoon how it all turned out?

K: [00:04:35] I think it turned out pretty spot on to what I envisioned overall. I know my family really helped us out and we saved a lot of money with them providing a lot of services and being there for us. Our honeymoon was great. I think that was one of the most exciting vacations because we planned every aspect of it and got to do incredible things. And we had a great time in Hawaii. I wouldn’t change anything about that.

Chris: [00:05:04] Yeah it was it was nice. I know I didn’t mention it early but we went to Hawaii. We went to Maui and we went to Oahu. And for us pretty much all the financial responsibility kind of landed on us. We ended up paying for pretty much everything for the wedding and then we paid for the honeymoon ourselves but we didn’t really pay for it because we bought it all on credit. And so that’s why this was the start of our kind of debt journey because pretty much all of the money I had saved went towards an engagement ring. And after that we were pretty much working off of borrowed money. So I know one of the things I probably would have liked to have done is maybe, if these are things we wanted to do and I wanted to do, to save more to prep in advance so to maybe do a better job of building up that starting amount and then try to work more within the budget. So if we have a set amount try to spend as much of our own cash and rely less on credit and if it’s something that we can’t afford maybe just kind of going without it. Because I guess it’s maybe easy for me to say in the grand scheme of things it was just one day of the rest of our lives. So it’s kind of like man, that was a lot of money for one day that ended up taking years to repay. So I don’t know how you feel if you feel the same way?

K: [00:06:21] Yeah I feel the same way. But also I feel there’s a lot of pressure overall on people that are getting married to spend and spend. And even if they don’t have it, you still should spend because even if it is just one day out of your life this is supposed to be the best day of your life, for many people. And while I don’t necessarily believe that, it’s still an exciting time and I had a great time but I think I would have definitely been more strategic in the ways that we spent the money and budgeted it out and spent according to what we could afford though.

Chris: [00:06:58] Agree, Agree. Because I there’s so much social pressure to have this big event, this big party and I mean I get you know it’s a tradition but it feels like people should know how expensive this and understand how expensive this days is and that put that pressure on other people to spend all of this money.

K: [00:07:18] Right.

Chris: [00:07:19] For them to come and enjoy this party.

K: [00:07:21] Yes.

Chris: [00:07:21] And I don’t know if you’ve seen online there’s like this trend of these like really inexpensive weddings where people are doing things that are more conventional they’re like having you know like a fast food place catere, like in and out, or they’ll have like a use of a family’s piece of property if you have someone who has property. We don’t have anyone who has property we could have used but like you know using someone’s backyard if they have a large backyard or things like that to keep it more affordable.

K: [00:07:46] And there was there were some ways that we could have. I think because we had such a large guest list you know trimming that down could have helped. There’s lots of other ways that we could have avoided spending some of the money that we did. But we are also young and I think overall you shouldn’t be expected to spend a whole lot of money when you’re that young getting married. But we didn’t have a lot of help like you said. So we just kind of went with it and weren’t really thinking about how it’s going to impact us later.

Chris: [00:08:20] True. You just like well it is only going to happen once so might as well have it the way we want it and you ended up kind of getting carried away and not really realizing how much money you spent until you look back at the receipts and the credit cards and you’re like Oh I didn’t I didn’t know we spent that much already. And we still have so much more to get. But you know in addition to the wedding so you know that day passed, we had a good time, spent a lot of money. And then we moved into our first place together and it was a small studio space we rented from your family because it was way cheaper than any of the other apartments we can get in Southern California and we were trying to think about paying off the wedding. But when we moved in we didn’t have any furniture we didn’t have anything. So that of course went on a credit card. We went to Ikea and went on a shopping spree. It’s Ikea so we didn’t spend that much money but you know I was like you know Twelve hundred bucks at least worth the furniture. I think I can remember that because I’m cheap and anal so i remember those numbers.

Chris: [00:09:17] And then you know you were in school so there were school costs that came up. Health insurance you know we had you know there was a trip to emergency room that I could think of. There were just general copays and deductibles we had to pay that added up. And I think after about two years we got married in 2012. So it was 2014 when I think we hit the peak of our debt and it was just over twenty seven thousand dollars. And I remember seeing that and I was like you got to be kidding me, how did this happened because it went from Oh you know we have about you know sixteen thousand dollars plus furniture you know. You know we’re under twenty thousand dollars and then all of a sudden it kind of ballooned over the course of two years into this really, really big, big amount. And so I mean I know for me I was really stressed out. I know this is kind of all I thought about and it really impacted me and how I handled everything. It was one of the main factors for me changing jobs to try to make more money. I know I got like super tight on the budget and changed the way we did things. And I know for us this is probably one of the few times we’ve ever even talked about this together. We didn’t really talk about it then. I don’t we’ve really think we’ve talked about it since and so I mean how did you feel during this time? Because I don’t think I ever asked.

K: [00:10:36] I felt stressed but I don’t think it was anywhere near as bad as you were. I felt like for me I’m not really, your focus is finance with work and just your background. So for me it wasn’t really on my mind as much as it should have been, but I definitely felt the pressure from you and the reality of the seriousness of the situation really started to sink in. This is going to take a long time to get rid of this is going to take work and effort to make it go down.

Chris: [00:11:23] All right so we’ve already popped enough popcorn for today so I think we’ll stop our conversation here and we’re going to pick it back up in a couple of weeks because next week’s episode I’m going to have Erin Lowry on. She’s the author of Broke Millennial and also the founder brokemillennial.com. That interview will be coming up next week. And then after that you’ll get part two of my conversation with “K” as we discuss more of our debt story. So as always thanks for listening if you want to check out the show notes for this episode and links to the original blog post that I posted about our struggles with debt. You can visit popcornfinance.com/32 and you can get all that information there. Also you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play Store. Pretty much any place you can get a podcast you will be able to find us. So Overcast, radio public any of those good places. And then also if you want to keep up on the news that’s going on, any new events, new changes with the show, any sneak peeks or promos that I put out. You can follow me on Instagram @PopcornFinancePodcast and on Twitter and Facebook @PopcornFinance. So as always thanks for joining me for another bag of popcorn and hope to see you back soon.

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