You Cannot Wish Debt Away
It’s funny, when you spend so much time wishing for something to happen.
Wanting it so badly, it’s all you can think about. And you imagine what life would be like, if you could only accomplish this one goal.
Make this singular change that’ll make everything worth it. Something that will improve your life exponentially, so you can finally enjoy a brighter future.
And then it happens.
But it’s not exactly as you imagined it would be. There’s a twist at the end. A kink in the plan. A curve ball you didn’t see coming.
Or maybe you did see it coming, and chose to ignore it. Ignorance is bliss, isn’t it?
So here is where this is all coming from. The story begins with …Debt.
We started the year with roughly $40,000 in debt. Mainly credit card debt. Does that sound insane? Why yes, yes it does.
But it’s also true.
We spent many years not only living paycheck-to-paycheck, but also living way beyond our means.
Were we particularly extravagant? Nope. We were just two young parents trying to provide for our family.
That may sound familiar to some of you…or maybe not.
And beyond that even, there was also a mortgage and car payments. But that credit card debt — it turned into a living, breathing being.
Honestly, it was the age of a small toddler. That’s how long we’d been carrying it around. Ricocheting from one 0% balance transfer to another. Prolonging the process until it seemed like it would never end.
(And while as of today, that debt is now a thing of the past, it sure took a hot minute to successfully get there…)
But it’s amazing what you can start to accomplish, once you begin to focus.
At that time, however, I didn’t believe our progress was good enough. We hadn’t been frugal enough. Hadn’t cut our expenses to a respectable or admirable level.
Hadn’t sacrificed enough, to be worthy of becoming debt free.
The concept of suffering to achieve a goal. No pain, no gain.
As in, you better prepare yourself for some discomfort, or else the end result won’t nearly be worth it.
So you buckle down. You deprive yourself. You feel good about the struggle, because it’ll all be worth it in the end.
And my struggle has been fairly transparent. I’ve shared in the past about having difficulties putting a debt payoff plan into place.
About having a partner who wasn’t quite on board with my accelerated payoff strategy. How having debt was basically seen as the “new normal”, within our circle of friends and colleagues.
Well, I’m happy to say we now have a solid, ironclad plan to pay off the rest of our debt. And it’s something we’d like to do fairly quickly.
However, there is a bittersweet twist to this revelation.
And to me, the irony in this is not lost. The amount of push back and hesitation to pay the debt off as quickly as possible.
Done in an attempt to create a better life for our family.
And a better future for the two of us.
To be able to breathe easier, and eventually retire.
Can anyone anticipate what the punch line to this story is?
Yep, the new goal is to pay the rest of the debt off as quickly as we can — since my partner will be moving out. So we need to get our finances in order. We need to eliminate the debt, to easily part ways, so we both can become self-sufficient.
How’s that for irony?
I finally get him on board to straighten out our finances. But the fire that actually sparks him into action is the beginning of the end.
If that isn’t some sort of poetic justice, I don’t know what is. I’m getting what I always wanted, just not in the way I anticipated.
“You can’t always get what you want /
But if you try sometimes you just might find /
You get what you need”
– The Rolling Stones
Eyes Wide Open
To be perfectly clear, none of this has been a huge surprise to me. Things have definitely not been wine and roses, and hadn’t been for quite some time.
But as I’m an utter romantic and eternal optimist, I always thought there might be a sliver of a chance things could turn around. Because when you’ve been committed to someone for 22 years — that’s not something you just choose to throw away. (I mean, I’m friends with some bloggers who aren’t much older than that …) So the time dedicated and loyalty afforded are not things I take lightly.
And I suppose the bright side of this is we never did get married.
But I had an idea this might be the way things would go — would have to go — in order for us both to be happy. Especially with the way things have changed over the past few years.
We’ve been headed in opposite directions, wanting different things. He’s become even more outwardly social, expanding his group of friends. Meanwhile, I’ve been engulfed in my blogging journey, happily remaining somewhat of a homebody.
And now, because of this blog, I have something that’s so meaningful to me. Something I created, that is mine alone. I’m no longer just sitting on the sidelines, cheering others on. Or providing support in the background, while someone else is following their dreams, or pursuing their passions.
This is my passion. And maybe now I can finally put myself first.
A Million Dreams for the Future
And how does this tie back to money and debt? Well, maybe it does, and maybe it doesn’t.
Although don’t most things tie back to money, in some way?
Relationships, conflicts, hopes, dreams, controversy, success, failure, and discontentment.
At this point, I’m sad, I’m happy, and I’m also hopeful.
Sad that such a long partnership is coming to an end.
Happy that I have a new path to follow, since I’ve been feeling so frustrated with the ways things have been playing out lately.
And hopeful that my future will increasingly become better and better.
I can concentrate on improving my finances, making decisions that are best for me, without having to debate, convince or cajole anyone else to see my side of things.
I can focus on myself — be selfish, for once in my life. (Is it bad to be selfish once in a while?)
Perhaps that’s not quite the term I’m looking for … How about: Putting a priority on me.
Because even though a phase in my life is over (albeit a pretty huge chunk of my life), it isn’t too late to start over. Take what I’ve learned, and pivot in a different direction.
“‘Cause every night, I lie in bed /
The brightest colors fill my head /
A million dreams are keeping me awake /
I think of what the world could be /
A vision of the one I see /
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take”
– The Greatest Showman
Looking back, I have no regrets — I firmly believe everything happens for a reason. All of the individual steps and missteps that have taken place over the years had a unique and distinct purpose.
First off, I was destined to raise my two step-sons. They needed a mother, and that was my purpose for most of those years.
Now that they’re grown, I’m destined for something else. Not sure what that might be. But maybe it’s to motivate some other person — a woman who’s wondering if it’s too late to make a difference. I plan to show her that she absolutely can.
And while I don’t yet have a fabulous and inspirational tale of overcoming this adversity — I am in the process of coming into my own.
Because I’m still stuck in the middle of the hard part. With choices, and consequences. Self doubt and repercussions.
I’m just not on the right side of my story yet. I haven’t made it to the other side of that mountain.
But everything wholesome and worthy is floating right there in front of me.
The appeal of redefining myself.
The enticement of all that life has to offer.
And the story I’ll be able to tell, once this part of the journey is over.
So stay with me — Check back in maybe six months or a year from now. Then you’ll have your story.
It may not be prevalent yet… But I’ll get there.
Robin is a full-time business professional who has worked in the insurance industry for over 20 years. She is also a personal finance blogger who shares her first hand experience with the struggles of money and debt. On Mastering the Side Jam, she focuses on ways to maximize efficiencies to make & save money, pay off debt, and live your best life.
She has been been featured on The Money Mix, Rockstar Finance, The Financial Diet and Women’s Money Talk, and has been quoted in various online publications.