Once upon a time a fair maiden and a handsome, charming prince fell in love and got married. Just a few weeks after their budget-friendly wedding, a huge, fire-breathing dragon (we’ll call her Sallie Mae) attacked their appropriately-priced cottage and demanded that the prince and his wife give her everything but their firstborn child. The prince went after the dragon with his sword, even cutting off her head, but by the power of a dark magic called “interest”, Sallie Mae regrew her head and demanded even more…
Okay, so this story is getting out of hand, but sometimes debt can feel like a fire-breathing dragon who visits your house once a month. No matter how many times you “chop off her head”, it just grows back, and you still have to attack it with your hard-earned money.
Before Ryan and I got married, the only debt I’d ever had was a car payment, and I’d hated that so much that I paid it off early. Thanks to several scholarships and my parents’ generosity, I’d also graduated college with no school loans. Even when I went back to school to become a teacher, I paid cash as I went, so the idea that I’d still be paying for my degrees long after I’d graduated was a very foreign concept to me. One huge mistake I did make was not putting much of my income into savings, but you know how it is when you’re single and have a disposable income. It’s the one time in your life when you can buy expensive clothes you’ll never wear and decorate your home with the most current home decor trends that you’ll be “so over” in a month.
When Ryan was single, he was working full-time, going back to school full-time, and very heavily involved with the youth at our church, so he had very little time to process his financial decisions. Although he was making a decent income for one person, he basically lived paycheck to paycheck and still spent more than he made every month. His former roommate even thought Ryan was rich because he saw him spend left and right, but what his roommate didn’t realize was that Ryan was caught up in a vicious cycle of just getting by month to month and didn’t have the time to come up with a better plan.
Enter The Fair Maiden and The Handsome, Charming Prince get Married part of the story, which could also be called The Fair Maiden Gains an Inheritance…of DEBT. Let me preface this by saying, I’ve never resented Ryan, not even for one second, for bringing debt into our marriage. Just like I should’ve been saving all those debt-free years, he knows there was a better way to handle things back then for him too, but once we got married, that was all in a past we couldn’t change.
I asked Ryan recently why he’d agreed so quickly to the idea of budgeting when we talked about it during premarital counseling. To be honest, I was a little surprised it was so easy to get him to agree to live on my income and pay down debt with his when I knew he’d be downgrading his lifestyle to a certain extent. He told me it was because he always knew there was a better way to live, he just didn’t have a clue about how people got there. Thanks to people like Dave Ramsey and Joe Sangl, who provided information and the tools we needed to get started, we were able to come up with a plan that worked for us. A plan that didn’t so much feel like a sacrifice as it did a way out. If you’d like to hear more details about how we got to the place we are now (insert $32,000 of debt paid off), click here.
Here’s how I want our story to end:
One day, when the fair maiden and the handsome prince were still in their mid-thirties and showing very little signs of aging, the evil dragon, Sallie Mae, beat on their door once again to collect her payment. The handsome prince and his wife boldly opened the door and held up the golden sword of financial freedom. They hacked Sallie Mae up into a million pieces and feasted on roasted dragon soup for days. Mmm…tasted like chicken.
Thanks for bearing with me through my silliness today. I hope our story encourages you that no matter what financial situation you find yourself in, you can take back your life from the evil clutches of debt and, with a few sacrifices and adjustments, build the kind of life you’ve always dreamed of.
See you tomorrow for The Tuesday Ten. Happy Monday!