Those of us on a debt free journey have gone through the same moment. It’s the day that you put your foot down and decide that you’ve had enough of your own crap. This is a story of one of those ‘sick and tired’ moments. The day that most of us never forget, and the day that changes our financial path for the rest of our lives.
My name is Cecilia and I have been a public school teacher for 11 years. Unlike some districts, my county offers a summer pay savings option for its teachers. As soon as I heard that this was available to me, I signed up for the program!
My district withdraws around $250.00 from every paycheck and on the last day of school it is deposited into my checking account.- so that I have a ‘surplus’ to last through the 3 months that we are off of school.
Prior to starting our debt free journey, I would blow through my summer pay in a matter of weeks, which left me with no cash. When I didn’t have the cash, I would resort to credit cards. This went on for many years, and instead of enjoying my summer breaks, I would be overwhelmed with financial stress. I would fall behind on bills, and my husband, Rick, would carry the burden of our household expenses until I went back to work.
In June of 2014, my school district deposited around $6,000.00 into my account. I knew this money was supposed to carry my family until September 15th. By the end of July, it was gone - spent on home decor, clothes, shoes, and who knows what else.
Every conversation I had with my husband about money would blow up, as he was upset with my spending habits. He told me that he was getting tired of my impulse spending, and most of all, tired of all my excuses.
Deep inside, I knew I had a shopping addiction but I wasn’t ready to admit it.
In August, I flew out to Northern California for a 5 day Stanford Summer Teaching Program. My husband gave me $200.00 - since our credit cards were maxed out.
At the beginning of the trip, I was completely stressed out. I thought that $200.00 was simply not enough. When a few of the minimum payments on my (again, maxed out) cards cleared, I had a little bit of room to charge food from fancy restaurants, and tickets for tourist attractions.
While this satisfied the immediate want, I felt insurmountable guilt, as I was not keeping my promise to my husband of not using my credit cards while I was away.
While in California, I started thinking of how our finances were out of control. Of how I was out of control. I was ruining our marriage, and our one-year-old daughter was already hearing our money fights. I felt shame and anger, and I just wanted to go back home to New Jersey.
My Sick and Tired Moment
I was tired of living like this! I was tired of using credit cards to pay for everything. I was tired of making minimum payments because that’s all we could afford to pay. I was tired of lying to my husband. I was tired of not having any money in my savings account.
When I get home, I lined up all our credit cards on the kitchen counter, and I was sick to my stomach. We had more than twenty credit cards with over $49,000 in credit card debt! I felt overwhelmed and hopeless. I dropped to my knees and asked God for guidance and help. This was my sick and tired moment.
Later that day, I texted my best friend a picture of all the credit cards. She recommended that we sign up for Financial Peace University.
During this time, we were renting a house from my Aunt. I explained our situation to her and the recommended FPU classes. We didn’t even have the funds to take the class on hand, so she graciously gave me a check for $100.00 to pay for the FPU kit.
Rick and I sat down, and I admitted that I needed help. I remember telling him that I was ready to change - that I couldn’t continue living like this anymore. I asked him to forgive me. We took out all of our credit cards and cut them all up together! We started our Debt Free journey that night.
Since taking FPU, we have paid off $130,000 worth of consumer debt, and became credit card debt free in August 2017. We have $50K left to pay, but the stress is no longer there. Instead there is hope and peace. Every time I feel like giving up, I always remember my sick and tired moment - which gives me the strength to keep going.
If I was able to change, you can too. I would love to hear about the moment when you decided that it was time to change. The moment you looked in the mirror and realized that you were the problem, and made the decision to change your story.
About the Author
Cecilia began her debt free journey with her husband in August of 2014 after years of overspending and living paycheck to paycheck. Since that time, they’ve paid off $130K of consumer debt and plan to be debt free by the end of next year. Her love of personal finance led her to become a Dave Ramsey Master Financial Coach. She loves teaching, cooking, working out, and finding free and frugal ways to create memories with her family. She truly believes that financial freedom can be part of everyone’s story.