On April 3rd of this year, we wrote something that we’ve been waiting years to write – that we finally could say We’re Debt Free!! It was on that day as well that we promised that we would share with you our story from how we landed ourselves so deeply in debt to the pain and struggle to work our way out of it! We’ve received emails and encouragement from many of you that the story is waiting to be heard. The truth is, Thrifty Cas and I have been arduously working through knowing how much detail to share and are honestly ashamed of our story. This is a truly difficult story for us to tell and put into writing.
However, we think its time and we need to be honest – there will be details (even at the end of this post) that hardly anyone else knows about us. Even our families will be shocked at what we did at the end of our honeymoon.
We know you’re going to wonder why we call ourselves The Thrifty Couple – believe us that we know now we were The Stupid, Debt-loving, Money-Spending Couple. I guess that’s why we didn’t start blogging back then – TheStupidDebtLovingMoneySpendingCouple.com was just plumb too long! If only we knew these things almost 11 years ago. So let’s begin there…
It was a beautiful, hot August day and we knew the day had finally arrived to say our ‘I do’s”. We had been preparing for almost a year for this day that we wanted to remember the rest of our lives! And remember we would – we would think back to this day for its beauty, for the celebration, and the beautiful wedding that would begin our marriage! However, even with preparations and trying to be somewhat reasonable with the price-tag, the wedding itself was over $14,000 – for the day. As we stood at the altar that day, not only did we say “I do” to promise to love until death do we part, but we also said “We do” to owing:
- $12,000 in student loan debt
- $3,000 wedding loan (after already spending $5,000 for our portion of the wedding)
- $3,500 credit card debt
So, with the math when we said “We do”, we said “We do owe $18,500“! And we don’t want to lead you astray – there was $0 savings in the bank and “just enough” in the checking account!
Now of course, every new couple needs to go on a fancy honeymoon trip as well. Right? Well, that’s what we thought. So off we went to the Oregon Coast to experience the “American dream”….going into debt even more to celebrate owing that much in debt. Oops! I mean our new marriage! We had luxurious accommodations, we bought fancy dinners, and we lived it up that week! But then the unthinkable happened!
When we were checking out of our hotel at the end of our honeymoon my card was coming back as declined.
I knew I was getting paid the next day and would have enough to float us then, but we were supposed to check out that day and get back to Portland – we couldn’t stay!
So what do you do in that situation? Go to the bank and hope and pray for a credit extension.
I left Thrifty Cas (well, that wasn’t her name then if you couldn’t tell) at the hotel and made my way to the bank. I was nervous as I knew we were already extended – what would happen if we were turned down? The loan officer was kind but I could feel the tension in the air. I filled out the paperwork with fear, sweating bullets at what the response might be and how I would ask the hotel for one more night to pay off our bill. The minutes ticked by and finally came the response.
“We are pleased to let you know that you have been approved for a $16,500 credit line.” I was ecstatic! We would be able to check out! The money would be available in just a few minutes!!
So, we did what every couple would do in our situation. I went back to the hotel, paid my bill, and the rest of that honeymoon we spent pennies as we were finally realizing just how close we had come to a huge financial disaster – just a few days into our marriage.
WRONG!! If only that was our story. If only we could tell you that we had learned at that instant just how dangerous our debt problem was. If only this story would consist of this post and the next telling you how we spent the next couple of years digging ourselves out. No, we had a long journey ahead of us before we would realize just how far we were diving into our debt.
So what did we do?
We made our way back to the city, made a reservation for a $125 dinner at a fancy restaurant at the top of a skyscraper in Portland! Remember, we wanted this to be the most memorable time of our lives no matter the price tag. Now after paying off our hotel we now had an additional $16,000 to spend – the good life was back……..
If you’re new to the series or just want to catch up, we encourage you to check out our whole Deep in Debt to Debt Free series!