Yesterday, we learned about my immature behavior in handling a large steady income. I was starting to sink further into debt without really acquiring any assets, and I was building up a lifestyle based around extremely poor spending decisions. Yet, I was about to embark on a path that would make matters much worse.
I was about to fall in love.
I wound up falling in love with an acquaintance from my high school days. We were in different social circles then, but we kept bumping into each other and finding that we had a significant overlap in terms of interests, personality, and mutual friends. Soon, we were dating and before long, wedding bells were about to ring. And I was about to jump off of a financial cliff.
I erred right off the bat by presenting a grossly inaccurate picture of my personal finances. I gave off the impression that I was making significantly more a year than I was. Although my wife was not a gold-digger in any fashion, my treatment of her in the early days of our courtship set the bar pretty high, and through my own egotism, I refused to lower that bar even though it was killing me to maintain it.
The second mistake I made was that I set the engagement and wedding expectations way too high. Rather than sitting down with my bride-to-be and talking about some realistic expectations, I not only allowed but encouraged those dreams to take root and grow. The end result is that there was too much spending on the engagement, the wedding preparation, and the wedding itself.
Before you start thinking to yourself, “Wow… what a sucker!”, I want to point out that these mistakes were entirely my own doing. My bride-to-be often encouraged me to spend less than I was spending on many things, but I was too caught up in my own spending glut to realize it.
The big, big mistake came after the wedding, however: I vastly overspent, beyond any reason, on our honeymoon. We flew to London first class, stayed in a suite overlooking Hyde Park for a week, ate like kings and queens, attended lots of shows, and basically drowned ourselves in excess. Then we repeated that week in Edinburgh. I had a credit card with a huge limit on it and just put everything, no matter what, on that. I didn’t even try to keep a running total or even look at prices at all beyond a perfunctory glance.
Needless to say, when we returned home and I saw the bill, I nearly choked. I resolved to get this paid off as soon as possible, but now we were a young married professional couple. Did I turn our finances around, or did I continue down the path of destruction? Tune in Monday to find out.
Want to jump quickly to the other Road to Financial Armageddon posts? Here’s an index to help you out.
#1: The Earliest Mistakes
#2: Early Profits … Lost
#3: Cash & College
#4: The First Taste of Real Money
#5: Love & Marriage
#6: The Yuppie Years
#7: Here Comes Baby
#9: The Road to Recovery
#10: What I Learned