My One Big Regret

Yesterday I told you women have a strong need to feel secure. One of the big things under that is feeling financially secure. Please understand this is not about being rich; it’s about having enough money for what’s needed, and about not having scary levels of debt.

My one big regret at this point in my life is that I’m in debt. I was actually debt free about a decade ago, but I didn’t appreciate how great that was. (Probably because we got out of debt due to an inheritance.) So, I got us back into debt.

Today I understand debt is a trap. Debt controls your life – it forces you to work hard, and it limits your freedom and your choices. There are things we want to do, things we think we should be doing, that we can’t do because we’re digging out of debt.

Debt marriage problem © Wavebreakmedia Ltd |

What saved us from a total debt disaster was doing a Dave Ramsay Financial Peace University class two years ago. I got serious about debt (Lori already was) because of that. We stopped doing anything to add to our debt, and we started to work hard on reducing our debt. Since that time we’ve reduced spending significantly, which allowed us cut our debt. I can’t imagine what would have happened had we not made this change. Last year was very difficult for us financially (due to income reduction from the day job), and had we not cut expenses and reduced debt I don’t see any way we would have avoided bankruptcy in 2013.

It was a tough year, but it would have been horrible had I not finally gotten smart about debt. I see how money concerns affect my bride, and I’m mad at myself for putting her in this situation. She’s great about it, but it’s still difficult for her and I hate that. She is encouraged by the changes, and we are working together to be debt free as soon as possible.

Debt is betting your future, which is not a wise thing to do. Debt is also betting your wife’s future sense of security and happiness, and that’s just plain stupid (I can say that because I;m pointing to myself.) I wish I owned far less and was not in debt; I would make that trade in a second if I had the option. In reality getting rid of debt is usually like losing 100 pounds (45 kg) – it takes a lot of willpower and time.

If you have debt beyond your mortgage, I am begging you to make debt elimination a priority. Aside from being wise, it will have a powerful positive effect on your marriage.

My top suggestion would be to take a Financial Peace University class. Lori and I are getting ready to facilitate a class for the third time. We have seen amazing things happen to those who have gone through our classes, and I wish the same for all of you.

If you can’t or won’t do a class, then start with The Total Money Makeover book. Also variable for Kindle. (The paperback is an older version.)

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7 Comments on “My One Big Regret

  1. I made some bad decisions in that area too.  We lived for years paycheck to paycheck, racking up government taxes debt due to a new business.  These days I’ve got my head on straight about it and we’re paying it down as fast as we can, but it’s a big hole to fill in.

    But I noticed a big difference in our marriage once I started budgeting.  That sense of security is so important to our wives.  It would be better if we were debt free, but knowing we are working towards it instead of going into debt more makes a huge impact as well.

  2. Debt freedom is a wonderful experience. As Dave sites often:
    Proverbs 22:7 ” The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”
    Women take financial responsibility extremely internal. For many wives, debt makes them nauseous. They also look at us as not being to handle our lives. This is not always an expressed emotion. Often it sits under the skin and eats away at them.

    As you are doing Paul, to systematically, even if slowly, to work away at the debt, which sends a loud message to Lori that you are in control.

    I did not understand the destructive harm that was being done in our marriage by our debt. My wife looked to me as the “provider” and home protector and financial debt was eroding my honor in her eyes. Elaine did not fully understand it herself.

    Once we had a plan (baby steps) and worked through the plan (4.5 years) she was more and more comfortable with “us”.  We did not see how much stress it placed on us until we were out from under the mess. 

    Today we have helped many couples through Dave’s program. If people will work it, it will work for them. Get the book Total Money Makeover, or go to Financial Peace University at a site near you. Paul listed a link to find a class.

    I encourage you to keep the pages you make listing your debts smallest to largest, so that when you get all finished with your “debt snowball”, you will have a reminder of how well you did and it is a reminder f were you do not ever want to go again.

    As a “why get the debt paid off?” make a list of all the interest you are paying at the present time and realize that you would have that money to use in your own way if the debt was gone and you had no interest payments.

  3. This is a great reminder. We got the Dave Ramsey dvd’s a couple of years ago and worked through the program as well, and so glad we did. Paid off $29,000 of debt in one year, which included my wife’s and my college loans, the remainder of our car loan, a couple medical bills, and a little bit of credit card debt. We’re now totally debt free, sold our home a few months ago, and are renting a small home for very cheap so we can save up a 20% down payment for a home with a 15 year mortgage, as Dave advises ;). We have an emergency fund of 6 months worth of expenses and about 12k of the 40k we’re saving up for the down payment. It feels awesome, and it feels right. This is all on a single income, as well. My wife stays at home with our two young kiddos, and I am a firefighter and do photography on the side. Anybody can pay down debt.
    This society is driven by consumption and people will buy tons of stuff they don’t need on credit without a thought about it. We’re called to not conform to this world, and all the things people buy and think will make them happy are totally empty and worthless.
    This is an awesome article and very worth checking out. It has a little bit of abrasive language, but we’ll worth the read:

  4. I don’t want to be nosy or disrespectful, but how does a smart sensible man like you get in debt? Twice, if I understood this correctly?

    That’s just really hard for me to understand. We’re basically on 2 graduate stipends and I have almost a years gross earnings saved up… Not bragging. Just really curious. A graduate stipend is several times the national poverty limit, but it’s also less than half of what a person holding a BS in my field can earn. So it’s hardly a lot of money.

    • @alchemist – The short answer is I went with my culture. Being in debt is, sadly, the norm for people in our country. It took a Dave Ramsey course to show me how wrong I was.
      I also didn’t get any teaching about money from my parents. I can look at their lives and see they used credit carefully and in a limited way, but they failed to teach me what they seemed to understand. I have no idea why they didn’t teach their children about money, as they taught us about so many other things.
      None of that is to excuse what I did, it was foolish.

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