the epiphany

February 27th, 2008

The Epiphany

Gather Little By Little has invited bloggers to share their moment of financial epiphany – this is mine. Enjoy!

There really wasn’t anything remarkable or special about that evening in November of 2003. It was just another ordinary day by my recollection. We had found out about a month before that I was pregnant with our first child, but that wasn’t the reason for the conversation. There frankly wasn’t really a reason, it was just something that was bound to happen eventually.

Back then, like now, I took care of all the financial administration stuff in our marriage. I paid the bills, I balanced the checkbook, I juggled the money. And juggle I did. We had moved to a new state in April because of a job opportunity for my spouse, and I had not been able to find full-time employment for myself there (we live in a state with pretty high unemployment). My spouse’s salary was enough to cover the basics and bills, but barely, and we seemed to run into the red every single month by at least a little. Months that I had temp work filled the gap, but that wasn’t something we could count on.

One night in November my spouse asked me about our credit card debt. Which he knew about, and he knew we were close to the limit on our Capital One card. We hadn’t been adding to it through purchases since he’d finally found a job in May, but it wasn’t getting knocked down very quickly at all. And when I couldn’t balance our money in and money out, I’d pay the Capital One with a convenience check from our other credit card. Not so smart. My spouse thought that card was empty – and I wasn’t hiding it from him (and had actually mentioned it, but he probably wasn’t paying attention) it just hadn’t occurred to me to explain how close to the edge we still were.

My spouse was a tad upset about the convenience checks on the MBNA card. So I made a list of all our bills and recurring expenses, wrote his monthly salary at the top, and handed it to him. Looking at it, it was the first time he realized that we couldn’t just buy random stuff here and there whenever we felt like it. It was a turning point in our communication about finances. Things haven’t been completely perfect since then, and I still handle the finances on a day to day level, but my spouse stays a lot more involved and updated about them. And from that point on, no more convenience checks, no more credit cards, and many years later, we finally paid off the $12000 we owed at that point.

What was your financial epiphany?

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13 Responses to “The Epiphany”

  1. Thanks for sharing PaidTwice…yeah for paying off the $12,000! Added a link to your article from mine.

  2. I had a quarter-life crisis as my 25th birthday approached. I was single, broke, and hadn’t thought about the future. I had always pictured myself married and in graduate school by 25…I realized that I might spend the rest of my life alone, so I needed to get things together to take care of myself. I went on a string of horrible first dates (to fix the single thing)…I opened up a Roth IRA, and I started budgeting (still don’t like to)…

  3. Getting a job that finally enabled me to live in NYC (relatively frugally), pay bills AND have some cash left over. Around the same time I met the man I believe I will marry and I realized that marriage, children and owning property were going to be on the horizon and I should prepare for it. And also that I loved him too much to bring my old consumer debt into the marriage.

  4. I love the way that your epiphany is really your husband’s ;) .

  5. After Hurricane Katrina and the loss of my home and job in New Orleans, I had to relocate and reinvent my life. I was 3 years away from retirement and couldn’t see myself starting over as a teacher in another state at my age, so I became determined to live as frugally as possible and work only occasionally. I now work a seasonal job as well as another part time job on the off season, do mystery shopping and make baby quilts to sell. I have a huge educational loan that I am determined to pay off within the next 10 years.

  6. My epiphany occurred about a year ago but I didn’t see any actual results until going through a “divorce” of sorts, and finally decided to sell my home, which was in a community that made me very unhappy. Now in my early 40s, I’m budgeting for the first time, watching my spending, paying down the debt, and trying to make the most of my savings. I enjoy reading your blog and have learned so much from it, as well as several other blogs. Thank you for sharing your experiences!

  7. My epiphany happened about two years ago when I decided to go to law school. At the time, my husband and I were both teachers, and our combined income was about $65,000. And yet, even though we had no education debt, no car loans and lived in a relatively low-cost state, we ended up living pretty much paycheck to paycheck because we went out so frequently, though we didn’t recognize this as the cause at the time. When I realized that I wasn’t going to get any financial aid in law school, we stopped going out more than once a week and managed to save about $1000 a month. Now, we’re deeply in debt because of my schooling but we have a great grip on our finances. We take out no more in loans than my school says I need to live within a meager student budget, but in the past two years we have still managed to max out our Roth IRAs in 2007, buy a new $15,000 car with only a one year car loan (that we’ve since paid off) and save more than $12000.

  8. My wife and I had this same conversation. We weren’t communicating properly with regards to our finances and it caught up to us fast! We’ve since fixed this problem and are now both actively participating in our finances. It makes talking about money so much easier.

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