So, we finally asked for professional help with our whole debt and spending problem, and got the cold shower version of a reality check. I guess when you keep telling yourself it can't be that bad, it stings all the more when a stranger has to come out and say, "Yeah, it's that bad."
My husband and I are the clear product of disconnection from money. I don't have money, I have numbers. You can spend all the money you have, and then keep spending numbers, thanks (or no thanks) to credit cards, lines of credit and overdraft so-called protection at the bank. And we have spent numbers we don't have, more numbers than we bring in combined in a month, and that excludes respectable debts like car loans and our mortgage.
Ick. My parents are good with money. My siblings are all single, and doing well. Couples that I know who I am sure bring in less money per month than my husband and I do are replacing their fences and having laser eye surgery. We feel like the only ones trapped in the spiraling quicksand of debt.
Something has to change drastically if we hope to get out of this situation. In three years, my husband hopes to buy the business he is working in now, and we hope to get into a bigger, single family home. If we keep living the way we have been living, our reality-check professional told us that we will be lucky to keep the home we have, nevermind upgrade. Ouch.
I know that she's right. I hate that she's right. I was brought up with all the right rules: Pay off your credit cards every month. Count your pennies and your dollars will look after themselves. Money can only be spent once. I know these things are true, and that frugal is the way to go, but something gets lost in translation. And when you've moved to Spending-Justification-Land, it is really hard to muster up your courage and return to Reality-land. Consider it mustered.
Goodbye credit cards. Hello tight budget. I am looking to make good friends with meal planning, and to break off connections with the pizza delivery guy. We'll cancel our cable, and make better use of our movie collection. And I am making a long list of all the fun things we can do for free. With summer coming, the list should get pretty long without too much effort. Hooray for hiking, wading pools and the beach! Hooray for the library, and gift museum memberships! Hooray for a house already full of video games, craft supplies, movies and toys!
Maybe this massive cut back will help me realize how rich we are, instead of how poor. At the very least, it will adjust my perspective to living a way we can actually afford to live. Wish us luck! I'll keep you posted.