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How did this Happen? – The Path Back Into Financial Trouble

by Debt Destroyer on July 8, 2008

I was honored when Frank told me that I was chosen as the Happy Rock’s second writer.  But as the days have passed, that feeling has gone away and a new feeling has begun to come over me.  I call it the “How did this happen?” feeling.

I bet a lot of you are familiar with this feeling.  It has many variations (It’s not exclusive to personal finance matters by any means) and it usually sets in upon any sort of personal reflection.  Some examples are:  the “How did I get roped into a day of antique shopping?” feeling, the “perhaps ordering the Gut-Buster wasn’t the best first date idea?” feeling, or the “I wonder what this full body tattoo will look like when I’m 60?” feeling.

trouble-breweing-down-the-road.jpgI think this recent “How did this happen?” feeling, stems from the fact that just a few short years ago I would’ve never pictured myself writing about my problems with paying my bills.  I was the guy my friends and family turned to for financial advice.  As I alluded to in my about page, my wife and I used to be rather frugal.  I diligently charted our monthly income and expenses and would give routine progress reports.

Those days are long gone.

I’d like to think we had a good excuse; we moved out of state, switched careers, bought a broken down fixer-upper home, and started a family all at the same time.  We very quickly fell into a pattern of going our to eat for every meal and living out of our suitcases.  I no longer tracked income and expenses because I felt like I had no time.  Plus this wasn’t our normal life, so I didn’t think it would hurt to take a break and then start up again once things settled down.

Three weeks after the house was in good enough shape to live in, my wife gave birth to our daughter.  And of course this brought new bills and expenses which I chose not to chart, but would start again as soon as things got back to normal.

My daughter is now three and 1/2 and has a 17-month old brother, and I’m still waiting for things to get back to normal.

It didn’t really hit me that we were off track until I had to call off our vacation to New York City that we had planned for over a year.  A few unforeseen medical bills and a new set of tires made me take a hard look at our finances and I didn’t like what I saw.

Savings were zilch and I had more bills coming in then ways to pay them.

That very day I was emailed a link to The Happy Rock, I read about this opening and decided that it was a sign.    Well, starting July 1st, I’ll be charting all income and expenses again and will report the findings here.  I’ll also be open to all helpful ideas and suggestions that come from The Happy Rock community.

I’m also announcing that our NYC vacation is not canceled.  It’s just delayed one year.  This way there’ll be plenty of time for both my finances and the airlines to get their act straightened out.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

otherdeb (Deb Wunder) July 9, 2008 at 6:33 am

When you guys do get here, I’d love showing you around…it’s a great city!

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Polina July 9, 2008 at 8:57 am

From my own experience I know that there is nothing more permanent than temporary things:( if you want changes, you need to get to them at once as you’ve realized you need them, not “tomorrow”, as “tomorrow” never comes (for me at least)… the moment I say “this and that are temporary difficulties, I will think of them when I have a good mood and some free time”, is the moment of “I’ve just failed to do anything with this” and it is going to be put “on hold” to never be solved positively. The longer delays I make, the less I want to get to solving the problem, the less are chances to find the solution:(

Hope that everything will be just fine with you and your family, and you will be able to have the long-awaited vacation really soon:) Best of luck to you!

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celticbuffy July 9, 2008 at 11:02 am

I’ll be right there with you on this journey. July 1st was my (second) kick-off for charting where all of the money is going. I meant to start the middle of June but conveniently got side-tracked. After the New York trip you should plan for Hawaii and we’ll all go together! :)

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Drew "The Solution" July 9, 2008 at 9:40 pm

With the price of fuel and the imminent global recession, I hope a lot of families don’t feel the economic “pinch”.

It’s amazing how a new set of tires or a few new medical bills can change one’s best laid plans.

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Scott @ The Passive Dad July 10, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Sorry to hear you had to cancel your trip to NY. You could take a smaller family trip or stay local and do things around your town/city that a tourist would do. Visit a nearby town and go camping.

Sounds like you are very serious and will use this opportunity to start budgeting and tracking your finances again. What a great opportunity for you and your daughter. I have my daughter help with her savings/piggy bank and enjoy teaching her about saving money and shopping.

Thanks for sharing your story.

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John (Debt Defier) July 11, 2008 at 1:22 am

Deb – You’re on. Here’s what was on the agenda: US Open Tennis, Yankee Game, Letterman Show, Broadway show, Museums, and other misc sights & sounds. It kills me not to go this year…but next year will be just as good.

Polina – I love the line “nothing more permanent than temporary things” It’s quite poetic, and true.

CelticBuffy – Hawaii sounds good to us.

Drew – Yup, the medical bills are what really screwed us up. But at least everyone is healthy now.

Scott – I agree that it’s important to teach kids about money. The sooner they realize that Yo-Yo’s aren’t free, the better. We had a Yo-Yo incident here tonight :)

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Value For Your Life July 16, 2008 at 2:55 pm

Congrats on taking charge and moving forward! I wish you the best of luck, and I will be following your journey. I recently made a big change in my career plan…change is in the air!
Sincerely,
Amanda

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