Our Journey Out of Debt – How we got here

Our journey into debt began my freshman year of college. I was attending a small private school and needed to help cover some of costs. Sallie Mae to the rescue! Everybody else has student loans this is normal part of college. I took out the maximum disbursement that year but was smart enough to realize that eventually the money would have to be repaid. The next couple of years I worked harder to make up the difference and took smaller disbursements.

During the time I was in college, I took out a couple of credit cards. One gas card, a retail card and then eventually one of the “big” ones for wedding expenses.  Hubby (fiance @ the time) bought a truck, nothing fancy but a nice late model used truck. He was working full time and we were easily paying all the bills that came in.

I graduated from college and we got married less than two weeks later. I found a job pretty quickly and we both worked full time. We had 1 truck payment, my student loan payments and a credit card that we used here and there but paid in full every month. We were managing our debt load well. A couple of years into our marriage we paid off the truck early and bought a new car for me to drive. We had comfortable savings, enough income to pay the bills and still do most of the things that we wanted to do.

We had been told early in our engagement that we would have problems getting pregnant. We had begun to plan for those problems with our savings and when we decided we were ready to start a family I made an appointment with my dr. We were shocked to find out that despite our problems, I was already pregnant. I had not had a “cycle” in nearly a year so we were not able to get a due date until the results of my blood work came in. A week later we found out I was “probably” about 6 weeks pregnant.

Our plan had always been that I would stay home with the kids (2 kids – a boy and a girl exactly 2 years apart -LOL that is the way we planned it) and then go back to work once the youngest went to Kindergarten. I had a good job with excellent benefits (overtime wasn’t paid but was given as time and a half off instead). We planned to start living on hubby’s income alone and I started having my paychecks deposited into our savings account. We started using a lot of my income to attack our car payment and my student loans.

By the time I was 8 months pregnant, we were pretty used to living on hubby’s income. We had paid off our car and about half of my student loans. We had been blessed with many showers and were pretty set for the baby. We had decided that would be surprised with the gender so we had all the yellow and green stuff we could stand.

Hubby and I were living on the farm and working in the big city so we had a 60 mile drive in to work (and then 60 miles back home everyday). I kept my hospital bag in the car just in case. We went to work on a Monday like normal and at my 41 week appointment that afternoon the doctor told us to go get something good to eat , enjoy our last date for awhile and then check into the hospital at 8 pm.

Our last date was a little more nerve wracking than any of our other dates had been. We checked in to the hospital and prepared for induction the next morning at 7am. Despite the scheduled induction, I was already in labor at 1 am. Things were going well & we were already ahead of schedule.

Our first baby girl arrived a little after noon and spent the next 3 days in the NICU. She had some complications during labor that made the NICU stay and antibiotics necessary. She was discharged with a clean bill of health. My pregnancy had been perfect and we hadn’t been prepared for a NICU stay but we were able to cover the costs after insurance with savings.

We were adjusting to life at home with a newborn when I started having a little case of the “baby blues” nothing major just a little funk and then my grandmother died and my grandfather had a brain aneurism. My easy going baby and I started spending most of our days in the hospital, planning funerals and at the nursing home.

When life finally settled back down I didn’t know how to just be home (alone in the very quiet country) with my baby girl. We shopped, we met up with friends to shop and when we weren’t shopping we took pictures. Professional pictures, at least once a month and sometimes more.

Suddenly we were going through our savings, gas prices were rising and we realized that the commute hubby was making to work everyday was costing us almost as much as he was making. We had done the math and found out that he was working the first 3 days of the week to pay for gas and medical insurance.

Things went downhill from there. We were juggling more and more and getting tighter every month. We had cosigned a loan for a relative while I was still working. Guess when he stopped paying on his loan? About the time things started getting tight for us. We picked up his loan and started paying it. We were finally able to get it paid off (and put it behind us). We were still paying our bills but living on our credit cards.

For years it got better then it got worse. We’d make some headway and pay off something big but we’d dig a little further in whenever we got any wiggle room at all. We always had a car payment and a few credit card balances. We had about decided that was just the way life went – if you had anything at all you had the debt that goes along with it.

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