On Saturday, we learned how love and marriage caused me to sink even deeper into a financial hole I was digging for myself. I had hopes that as a married couple we would begin to get our financial house in order, but it was not to be.
My first big mistake is that I bought wholeheartedly into the “yuppie” lifestyle. We started buying excessively nice furnishings for our apartment: a big television, a new couch, a surround sound system, everything new in the kitchen, a new dining room table and chairs, a new bedroom set, and so forth. The scary part was that most of this stuff was replacing older but still usable stuff. Everything had to be new and nice and classy, and we paid out the nose for it.
Actually, we didn’t directly pay for it at all, and that was the second problem: we began to finance this “yuppie” lifestyle using nothing but credit cards. We were already in a fair amount of debt after our wedding, but we proceeded to rack up several thousand dollars in credit card debt buying all of these new things in a very short time. The sad part was that we didn’t even look at thrift at all – we had a gorgeous dining table, but it was stacked full of credit card bills.
We both wanted to live in a small town, so we made our third mistake: we lived in a place that maximized our transportation expenses. We worked in large cities that were separated by about thirty minutes, so rather than living in one or the other of these cities, we instead moved to a town in the middle. This meant that rather than giving one or the other of us the inexpensive convenience of using public transportation to get to work, we both had to maintain vehicles with gas, repairs, insurance, and such. This quickly became a giant money pit that wore us down over a long period.
Even worse was the lack of availability of local services. Our only choice for groceries, for example, was either a twenty minute drive or a very expensive local grocery store. Either option meant that each time we bought food, we were losing money by living where we were at. Given our lifestyle, though, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we regularly spent atrociously high amounts on groceries because of this factor, without even giving it a second thought.
We also both chose this most inopportune time to get involved in financially expensive hobbies Rather than choosing hobbies with a low cost per hour of enjoyment, like reading, we chose hobbies with a high cost per hour of enjoyment (I collected DVDs, actually). This made for some very high monthly entertainment expenses, far beyond anything reasonable for our incomes to maintain.
The end result is that we lived like real consumers, digging ourselves further into debt while we wandered through our 20s. Then we made an even bigger financial decision: we decided to have a child. Little did we know the financial impact he would have on our situation. You can find out all about it tomorrow.
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