Starting Debt (01.01.19): $124,310.77
Current Debt: $108,427.15
Total Paid Off: $15,883.62
I was fortunate enough to have parents who were willing to pay for my college. In fact, I was fortunate enough to have parents so invested in my college education that when I showed resistance to the idea of attending college, they offered to pay for my college and buy me a brand new pick-up if I agreed to attend and graduate. And you know what?
I still messed it up.
To be fair to me, I was young and stupid and young stupid people make young stupid mistakes. I saw an amazing opportunity for short-term gain to go work for my father making $40,000 a year, which was great money for a guy in his late teens / early 20s.
Tangent #1: Remember that small town I mentioned that I was raised in? Well it was also very common in that town to marry young and start having kids soon after. I wasn’t engaged yet at the age of 18, but I knew I wanted to propose and I at least had the wherewithal to understand that I’d need a job to support a family.
Tangent #2: I did wind up getting married at a very young age. I was 20. I’m also happy to report that my wife and I just celebrated our 23rd year of marriage together late last year! More on us and our children another time.
So after 1 year of limping along in college with lukewarm aspirations of becoming a radio Disc Jockey, I dropped out and went to work for my Dad on his bustling new cattle farm.
Without fully comprehending the ramifications of my decisions at the time, I traded short-term gain for long-term pain:
Short-Term Gain: $40,000 a year at the age of 20! I might even buy one of those new flat screen TVs!
Long-Term Pain: What do I do for income if my Dad loses the family business.
Later in life I would make this very same mistake again with things like credit cards:
Short-Term Gain: A new flat screen TV in 4 rooms. HD! 4K! IT’S LIKE I’M ON THE FIELD!!!
Long-Term Pain: 23.99% interest rate if not paid off in 12 months.
Spoiler Alert: I didn’t pay it off in 12 months.
Where these types of choices landed me was under a mountain of debt with a bunch of junk that now clutters up my life and very little to really show for the amount of stress that came with the bills. From this point forward, I will be looking long and hard at every decision I make and deciding if it’s going to benefit me and my family in the long run, but it took me almost 25 years to get to this point.
When you’re a kid, you eat candy for a quick buzz and because it tastes good. You do this despite all of the adults around you saying, “You’re going to rot your teeth out, and all of that sugar is not good for your health.” My spending habits were my candy, and even though I had lots of people telling me that I was just going to rot my teeth (literally throw money away in interest) and jeopardize my health (savings and retirement), I didn’t listen. I shoved that stuff in my face as fast as I could as often as I could, and now I’ve got no teeth in the bank and financial diabetes!
That was a terrible analogy that went far longer than it should of without any kind of real payoff, but you get my point.
Also, make sure you floss. Not financially. I’m saying make sure you floss your actual teeth often. You’ll thank me later.