Disclaimer: You may be wondering to yourself “When are they going to get to the part where they start telling us how they got out of debt?” That’s a great question. But we really want to share with you exactly where we were at prior to making that transition. Our hope is that some can relate with some of the pitfalls we struggled with, that some of you can relate on how far in the hole we found ourselves, and others that think “if this insane couple can do it then anyone can”. We are nearing our revelation but have just a few more articles before we start that transition – but now I’m getting ahead of myself.
It was a cold, dark and dreary night – no seriously, it really was! I was driving home late in the fall and it was pitch-black outside. The stretch of the road I was on was about a half mile of darkness as I was passing by some local farmer’s fields. There wasn’t anything particularly interesting about this stretch of road – I knew it well as it was less than a half mile away from my childhood home. But that night something happened that would turn that nondescript night into one I would never forget. What happened you might ask? Partway into that cold, lonely stretch my old sedan died and I became stranded at the side of the road.
Now you may be wondering what the big deal was. Who cares? Either press the On-Star button or use your cell phone to call your family member to give you a tow. Well first, you need to remember this was prior to either of those technological gadgets. This happened back before we even knew that I needed to find a “land-line” – I needed to find a house or business and someone to let me borrow their “phone”.
Of course, my mind started racing as soon as it happened. First, I had a little bit of a temper tantrum. I knew this was coming – it was only a matter of time. I was driving this old beater that barely drove us around town. Here I am, trying to take care of a new wife. What if this had been her? I knew this wasn’t going to be a cheap fix either. How did I know? Rationalization – the last time I visited the mechanic was about an $850 repair so I’m sure this one would be about the same. We were a dual income no kid (DINKs I think they used to call us) so why do we keep driving this clunker. Maybe it was time to cut my losses and “grow up”. Yep, maybe instead of paying another $850 out of my pocket we should buy a more reliable car.
Then the moment happened – I’m sure you won’t believe me even after I tell you what happened. There were neighborhoods behind me and one large, bright shining business ahead of me just a quarter-mile up the road. The darkness was broken by a large parking lot with the lights beaming up through the clouds – but what I saw was that scene from the movie in which the clouds opened up and the light beamed down revealing the answer to all the questions of that lost, weary soul about to give up in his journey. Yes, that parking lot was none other than one of the largest used car lots in town. No, I don’t believe that actually happened but my mind just soaked it all up that I needed to go and check out their cars – I mean, I needed to make a phone call somewhere….right?!?!
So I set myself to walking and knew by the time I had reached the lot that I really needed to check out their cars. And then I found it – my soon to be gently-used, manual transmission Nissan Altima. And did the salesman ever help me out – by the time I had gone to pick up my lovely wife (she was at work at the time) he would have the papers ready for us to sign including the financing – what a helpful guy!
I drove off to pick up Cassie and she admittedly thought it was a cute car – although she couldn’t drive it yet (ahem, the manual transmission) but of course that could be easily remedied, right? Less than an hour later we were proud owners of a new used car, a new car payment (financed at 100%, of course without shopping around, trying to find a deal, or without sleeping on it) with us still needing to pick up that ol’ beater that started this mess to begin with.
What chain reaction was set off by this evening’s decisions? First we actually was able to repair the beater for less than anticipated which later became Cassie’s car because her last time driving “the new Altima” was ended by her stalling in the busiest street in our town (with traffic coming at us) and her bolting out of the car in tears to the closest business. Less than a year later we then traded that ol’ sedan that was the source of my poor logic so Cassie could have a new car of her own (financing that at 100% as well and without doing much better as far as car shopping).
These were just our next logical steps in living the “American dream” – a newly married couple, living the good life while making our monthly payments (for the time) while living that life that we dreamed about. It was through such great logic and rationalizations that we would continue to spiral down even deeper into debt. And it was this mindset that would really help launch us into the rest of our story – just how much debt could we build and how much deeper could we go?
Check out the rest of our Deep in Debt to Debt Free series to catch up on the rest of our story.