Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Money Isn't The Most Important Thing- But It Is Important

I don't know about you, but finances is often a topic of discussion in our home. Not enough money, too many bills, need more money, how can we save more money, money this, money that, etc, etc. Money isn't a topic many of us enjoy (unless maybe you have it and in that case- I accept donations, lol). We don't talk about how much debt we have if we have it because we are embarrassed  Debt, to me, means we were stupid. We have made mistakes with our money. We have learned from those mistakes and are now digging ourselves out of that pit. We are slowly making an upward climb and that is all we can really do.

Is it A LOT? No. We don't have student debt. We do have a mortgage, car payments, and a credit card that we are paying off. I know these are hard times. A lot of people have debt so I shouldn't be so embarrassed to talk about it. I think my embarrassment is mostly because I was raised by parents who taught me to save, save, save. They are smart with their money and have been able to buy their cars without taking out loans. They took us on family vacations, we were in sports, took music lessons, etc. These are all things I thought were normal and attainable for everyone. This is what I want for our kids too. But not all of us are wealthy and so we need to learn how to be smart with the money we do have.

I find myself wondering how much debt other people have. How do we compare to everyone else? I mentioned this topic on Twitter and a couple of you suggested that I write a post about it. I'm nervous to post this but I'm hoping that by opening myself up to talking about this, some of you will too.

If you feel comfortable with leaving a comment (even if it's anonymously) to share how you feel about this, I would love to hear it. How much debt do you have, if any?


Anonymous said...

Our house: 235K
My car: 31K
Our fifth wheel: 34K
A Credit Card: 7K

Whitney @ EHFAR said...

I hate debt! I can't believe I was so careless with my credit cards. I had to means to pay them off (not at once), but didn't. I never developed a plan to, until this past December. I haven't used them in about a year. I believe in December 2012, I had about $16K-17K in credit card debt. So far, I've paid over $2K-3K on them. My goal is to pay them off by December 2013. I have no student loans from undergrad, but I have $50K from graduate school. I'm not too worried about that.

I grew up with music lessons too, and really didn't think of it as a luxury, because it was something I wanted to do and my parents made it happen.

I want to be able to get a new car to me (2011 or newer) and want to eliminate as much debt as I can and save for a down payment. I've been driving the same car for 11 years, and it just isn't the safest.

I blogged about my journey here http://southernbelle23.blogspot.com/2012/12/operation-take-control.html

Shelli said...

I won't share our number (honestly I'm too scared to count) because I'm embarrassed. BUT we have a mortgage, 2 car loans, 3 student loans, and 3 credit cards. We have 3 credit cards because we divided that debt onto 3 0% interest cards so they will not collect interest while we try to pay them off. Most of our credit card debt came from emergency situations when we did not have the cash. I keep them locked up in our document safe so we will not use them. My $410 car payment is a big regret BUT I had to have a new car. Honestly, it will be paid off in 2 years and will hold 2 carseats eventually. I like driving something safe and dependable. I don't regret our student loans AT ALL. I was fortunate to have my bachelors degree paid for by my parents but my husband was not. I took out my first student loan last year to start my masters degree. My husband is a teacher (I will be too next year) and we have decided we will work our summers until our student loans are paid off. I know it will take time to pay off debt, but in the end we will be better for it! Sorry for the long comment. Ha!

Anonymous said...

We saved every penny, didn't have cable, go on trips for the 4 years leading up to my husband going to grad school. When he got in, we we careful to not take out even a penny more than we needed, I worked part time working around his schedule and my daughters, and we still came out of school with $110,000 in student loans.

Is it a ghastly amount? Perhaps. But for my husband to have a job that he was made for and is passionate about it was hands down a wonderful investment.

We continue to live as frugally as possible (lots of rice and beans, I even use my daughters old school assignments for printer paper). We have been paying on the loans for 2 years and thanks to a ridiculous interest rate we have made very little headway.

However, we have a great plan and I know since we were so careful before and after not to take out more than we needed and have stayed certifiably frugal, there is every reason the loans will be gone soon, and we get closer every month.

Blue Dog Belle said...

Wow. I really appreciate this post. I am currently 24. Renting. paid off my car. and otherwise debt free. BUT starting law school in the fall. I'm honestly terrified. 100K++++ in tution debt? I'm single, and on my own financially so it's all on me. only about 10K in savings. I'm so overwhelmed at the thought of paying this investment off for the next 20 years. Plus one day I want a house, and a new car, kids... clothes... food. I am just so terrified I'll be in debt forever. Ah.

You post helps though, at least I'm not totally alone in my stress.

Lin said...

Ugh, owing money is something I hate but have been doing it for years. No matter how hard I try to pay off my credit cards & keep them paid. What can I say, I'm a shopping/vacation addict.

As of right now this is what we owe but are paying off monthly:

2 cars: 36K
6 credit cards: 7K

Doesnt seem like a lot but with monthly bills/rent & this crap, it adds up to almost all we make. Just know, you're not alone.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why we, as people, are so afraid to talk about finances. I think it's almost embarrassing, but we all have debt, right?

I'm a single gal, and while I know everyone has bills and such, I think it seems scarier to know that everything is all on me. Ya know?

My parents paid for my bachelor's degree, so I didn't have that debt. However, being a teacher, I had to get my Masters and in no way could pay for that. So I have about $21K in student loans.

I decided to sell my house and rent because 1. it would be cheaper, and 2. if something goes wrong, I don't have to worry about it financially.

Like a dummy, I got credit cards to use when I didn't have the cash for gas or groceries...or shoes or purses. Ugh. I actually paid one off last week with my tax refund, but I still have a $5,000 balance on another. My goal is to get that sucker down. I know I can do it.

Meg O. said...

We have a mortgage, one car note and about 8K of credit card debt. Seems like we're not alone.

And we have hardly anything in savings. But we do have a college fund for Kennedy that my in-laws started and it has about 5K in it so far. My goal is to pay down the credit card debt and only use a debit card (which I have been doing - I don't use my credit cards anymore), put more in savings, and put some in Kennedy's fund. I feel like we're over our head a lot of times, but I guess we are in a very similar situation with a lot of people.

I think this post is great and I think it's awesome to get people talking about it!

Amanda @ It's Blogworthy said...

We have a lot of debt. We had to consolidate our redit cards because we were in over our heads. Now we have paid off two cars and have some extra to save. But it's still really tough. I'm the same way because I was raised to save money and be frugal. I never mention it because I'm totally embarrassed.

TracyZLesh @ Then I Got To Thinking said...

I think it's all about learning from our mistakes, and the fact that you hate being in debt so much means you probably won't put yourself there again... at least you're learning the lesson earlier in life than some people. Fortunately, Tim is older than me and had already made some mistakes before we met... so he is VERY careful now and pays things off. We treat our credit cards like debit cards, only spending if we know we have the money and savings to pay it off that month. But, we still have the normal debt - a car payment & mortgage... but it gives us something to work towards.

Erika said...

I always find this topic intriguing. I am interested to know how much others have in debt as well. Seems like we fall into the "norm" with the exception of my student loans.

My loans when I graduated with my doctorate were almost 200K. Thankfully since I work at a UC I can make 120 payments and get the rest forgiven. Other then that we have our mortgage, 1 car loan (had to size up for the baby), and credit card debt. Our credit card debt is at a point that it's scaring me now but it's doable to pay off in a few months. My take home message is that being conscious of your debt is half of the battle. Many people hide how much they owe and that's when they get into trouble.

Meagan said...

Love this post and this topic. Like I mentioned on twitter hubby and I think we could be a good financial advice team. We watch Suze Orman every week and pretty much have her thoughts and opinions memorized. She would probably tell you to stand in your truth and talk about money with your husband. People get into problems when they don't tell friends and family no. Like if you don't have money to buy gifts or go out to eat or go on vacation be honest about it. Lately I feel like we have been spending a lot. New car, new couch, new tv stand. I'm surprised no one has asked us if we are in debt. Maybe people just assume we are or that my husband makes a lot. He does make good money. I work to pay for my car. I honestly don't know how much we put down. I think maybe 13,000 and it is a $38,000 car. We might have gotten that price down too. So we have like 15,000-20,000 left on my car and again don't really know how much is left on the house. We refied recently and there is probably like 200,000 to 230,000 left. My husband is a saver. He gets mad if the trash bag isn't completely full before you throw it out. It gets annoying some times but having the opposite might be fun at the time I'm sure it would not only get annoying it would be scary. We have never and will never have credit card debt. We had a crappy tv stand and couch when we moved into our house and saved for 2 years. Ask me any questions you have. Hope this post helps you!

Unknown said...

I feel very lucky that our only debt is our mortgage, which is about $390,000 {I live just outside NYC so house prices are ridiculous} Most of this is attributed to the fact that my parents paid entirely for my college and my husb didn't go to college, so we've never had any student loans. We did have two car payments for years, but were able to pay those off a few years ago. I still feel like we never have enough in savings though and are always just making it work. I hate money

Anonymous said...

This is always interesting! Sometimes you see people who you KNOW make xyz and yet they have xyz...but it's all what people do with the money they have. I have no debt other than some student loans from grad school. Those aren't huge and I'm on a plan with myself to get them paid off in the next couple of years. I got a grant for school, so that obviously helped my Masters! :) Other than that, I don't have a car payment or any consumer debt (credit cards) or anything else at all. I do have credit cards but I treat them like Tracy does and only use them if I have the money in my account. I'm not against having them, since I think if you use them like a debit card and pay them off the perks you get make up for it. Like airline miles and rewards! I just never let the money roll over.

It's all about the balance of what you spend I think. I think I'm pretty good at "big picture" spending when it comes to little accrual things. Like people who say "I only shop at target!" But those cheap $20 shirts build up quickly. Or gum at the store, running in quick to get something to drink, buying a $2 nail polish. Nothing bad, but those tiny things build up quickly to where you wonder where your money went! Naturally I'm not a big spender and I like experiences over things. I'm sure people wonder how I can travel so much and take time off? But I don't ever buy clothes or things (I can go months without shopping and not think about it!) because I'd rather go somewhere. But I'm single and unencumbered so I guess it makes up for it? Annnnd now I've written a novel, but it's a topic I like talking about! I actually have a couple friends here that I make a budget for and have them stick to it, since they are spenders and are trying to save more! Ha! ;)

Kassie :)

Lisa said...

Shelly, don't feel embarrassed, we've all been there or are there right now!

When my husband and I first got married I had a lot of medical bills from when I got sick without insurance. (by the way, a helpful tip some of you may not know...the hospitals are willing to work with you! We saved what we could to pay a lump sum and they generally cut the bill to half what we owed) After paying those off, my husbands scholarship ran out with one semester to go...so we still have that student loan we are paying off. We have a mortgage on a house we rent out and we bought a parcel of land to eventually build a new house on...so we are paying that off as well. My car is paid off, but my husband has a older used car that we are paying the loan on.

Right now we have 1 credit card with about $1500 on it. We make sure the interest rates stay low. Another tip - if the rate suddenly skyrockets or goes up, you can call the credit card company and get them to reduce it once again. Sometimes they do that and people either don't notice or don't take the time to call and have them change it. Sneaky.

All in all...we have very limited debt or what is called 'bad debt'. A mortgage and student loans are not considered bad debt. If you haven't read 'Rich Dad, poor Dad', I recommend doing so. It taught us a lot about debt, finances, etc. We have been married for over 10 years now so our financial situation is a lot more stable than it used to be. Sometimes it just takes time.

I think its awesome you are posting about this. If you talk about it, you take ownership of it. That's the first step in digging yourself out. Been there!

krystal said...

eeeekkkk over 100k in student loan debt, car loan..... it's hard!! that's for sure. but some things you just can't prepare for and at least our basic needs are met.

Sheri Money said...

Join the club! Oh, and I don't ALWAYS think debt = student choices. Especially when it comes to school and houses. Between Tom's 3 years of law school at an expensive private school and my 1 year of grad school at an even more expensive private school, let's just say we have plenty. I could care less about telling people how much we have, but Tom hates it when I do, so I won't :) . BUT, I'm coming down for Kelli's baptism and we can talk about it!

Stephanie said...

Do you read Michelle over at Making Sense of Cents? Loooove her and everything she writes about getting out of debt.
Thankfully, my parents paid for undergrad and I've never had a car or racked up credit cards, so my only debt is law school loans, currently at about $32,000. Which isn't bad since it's school debt but it's certainly not great either. But I wouldn't be in such a great spot without my parents, that's for sure!!

Hope said...

I'm such a finance, money, numbers kind of gal so I LOVE talking about this subject, but yes, some call it taboo. I think if you don't talk about it, or admit it to yourself about your mistakes, that just like anything, you won't change unless you admit there is change to be had.
Our mortgage is our big debt. And you know where we live, so it's not a small amount. To know that we should be paying on that, more than we do is overwhelming, but we just move forward with that and know that we'll get there someday.
And we have a little less than half of our car to pay off. That's all we have, but more than I myself am comfortable with. I dream of owning my home outright.

R said...

I'm currently dealing with major debt issues. It's held up the security clearance I need in the Navy believe it or not. Mistakes I made in my early 20s are kicking my butt. I've been held up in Mississippi having to pay off debt. And as much as I hate being here, I will say being able to pay these things off has been an amazing feeling. Knowing I'm going into my marriage with less debt is nice. I don't have this horrible weight on my shoulders. I was able to settle a $3700 debt for $480. I almost cried! Getting rid of that was HUGE! And in a year I'll have all of my debt paid off. It's not easy but now I'm kinda proud of myself for doing it.

Paige said...

My husband and I are terrible with budgets and although we want to learn, we sadly have not made the time to do so. He eats out way to much while patrolling and I spend way to much at the grocery. I owe 3,000 left in student loans, but it will be paid of with taxes. We owe around 14,500 each on our vehicles and rent. But we still feel like we have nothing. I know that sounds selfish because we actually have everything that we need. We just feel that we should be in a better place with our money. I understand where you are coming from. Money is one of the biggest issues of all marriages from what I have learned. But the main thing is learning and growing together!!

LWLH said...

Luckily neither the hubs and I don't have any student loans or car payments, but we still have about 3 years left to pay off our house and I have about $2000 of debt in collections from my early 20's when I made some stupid decisions.

Not much but we want to become more financially responsible and start saving and making smarter investments.

Selma @ Crazy Little World Of Mine said...

I'm immensely proud of you for posting this because it is an issue most of deal with on a daily/monthly basis.
I never mentioned it to you I believe but I'm debt free. Literally. No school debt, no loans to pay and all that. This may change in the future but literally I'm ok. Years ago I had to take a loan for school and took it, and paid it back within the last year before interest rates kicked in. I paid it all back in one thing. Yes, I had almost no money left in my account but it was done. Over. Never to think about it again.

Like you I was raised to save and be responsible with my money. Do I really need a fifth pair of the same/similar shoes? NO! Do I really need to fly to SF when I can save $$ and drive instead. Do I really need to go out each day? No. And if I do not go over a certain limit. My mom told me to pay people back immediately. Even if it was only $5. "Don't wait. Pay back right away. The next day if possible." is what I heard every time. I followed her advice. Still do it to today.

If I earn $1000 a month, and have to spend $400 on rent for example. I have $600 left whereas about $200 probably would go away to phone bills etc. So, $400 would be left. I'd put away half to savings and the rest would be for groceries or whatnot. I'd be super cheap, but would probably end up having some extra money at the end which would make me super happy. That's how I started out with. And then I got a raise, and then another one but I would not change my way of saving/using/handling money. I ended up saving, and spending less than I could, and today I'm sooooo happy.

However, I know people who have debts and can't buy them off. At all. They live paycheck to paycheck and I feel bad. I wanna tell them to sell stuff, to move out and find something cheaper and possible smaller so they'd be not spending the whole paycheck for rent and groceries. It's not worth it. It's tough but it's not worth it. There's always a solution and I am trying real hard to help certain people by encouraging them to look at how much they spend each month and how much they earn. Trying...it hasn't kicked in yet :(

Darn...that was a long comment. ;)


Sierra said...

Whew...finally made it to your post; sorry it's a month later! I'm so glad that you had a positive response and I think this is a topic people need to talk about! My debt is from credit cards...thankfully my parents paid for my education and I was not smart and spent far too much about 3 years ago and am currently trying to pay off around 6 thou. After that I hope to move to CA. My car was just paid off but my health insurance is insanely high due to health issues a few years back, but I am hopeful that I can pay off the credit cards and only use my Debit. I think it's the best way to live.

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