Let The Chicks Hatch

http://www.jeffbullas.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Are-You-Making-This-Huge-Mistake-On-Your-Blog.jpgI have to say… I never thought I’d be irresponsible with money. My mom and dad gave me a GREAT start into the financial world, and gave me every tool a parent could give for me to get and keep financial stability. I took less than $11,000 in student loans for a four year degree, I have a degree as a Respiratory Therapist in the “recession proof” health field, and I am married to a man who has never done less than provide a comfortable life for us. We had everything good going for us. It’s amazing how quickly the feeling of stability can fall away from you!

Here’s my first and hopefully ONLY major financial mistake:

I was only six months away from graduation when I decided that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to look at getting a new car. Fast forward a month, and I was the proud new “owner” of a 2010 GMC Terrain. Oh did I ever have stars in my eyes! A beautiful, nearly new SUV with good mpg’s was sitting in MY driveway. It was my early graduation present to myself, because who would ever think that a Respiratory Therapist would have a hard time finding a job? The payments were easily managed, and I would have a great paying job within six months for sure, right? Wrong. I wish someone would have slapped me and said:

Hubs had been working the oil fields and was making great money, facilitating my feeling of comfort and security in our financial situation. Only problem? He was gone nearly three weeks of every month. I couldn’t hack it. I was a mess without him, so things HAD to change. We moved to another town, he had another stable, good paying job, but we also now had a rent payment. Bummer. I got a job to help out with my car payment, while his job covered every other expense. We were still treading water.

Now it’s graduation day! Oh how I’d been awaiting the moment to get my degree and my new high paying job! Well, again, life happens. The recession proof career I’d chosen, wasn’t so recession proof. I couldn’t find a job. I lived within an hour of THREE hospitals, and multiple home health companies, and there was nothing to even apply for. It was a shock, but I still had my part time job at Home Depot to rely on, so no big deal! We were still making it…barely. Hubby was miserable at his new job though, so we knew things had to change, and they had to change soon. This was about how he felt:
Source: http://ayearofsignficance.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/
We’ve now gotten all the way back to September, almost a year since we bought my pretty SUV. Our financial worries were there, but not screaming in our faces since we made just enough to pay everything and have a touch left over each month. There was no credit card debt, only two cars, two sets of student loans, and living costs. Things were ok. THEN…The call came. Someone wanted ME to apply.

I didn’t know there was an opening anywhere around us, but they had gotten my name, and wanted me. I applied, and actually landed the job! One problem though, it was far enough away that we had to move. Moving meant leaving our comfortable situation, leaving Tyler’s job, and leaving my job, and leaving our nice but cheap apartment. It meant taking risks. We took the chance. I moved September 10th into an apartment that would cost us DOUBLE what we paid in Idaho, and that wasn’t the only higher living expense we faced. Longer story short, we didn’t have a great plan to jump from. I was the only bread winner and we were BARELY scraping by, with two rent payments, and everything else on top of it.

Now fast forward to TODAY. I’m employed, hubs is employed, and we have a stable base again. But from the move and “life happening” we have over $5000 in credit card debt, $20,000 in car loans, $30,000+ in student loans between the two of us, and $1200 a month in rent. Now that we have the means, every cent is going towards repayment. No more credit cards for us. We’ve become a cash only family. We are SO lucky that this didn’t ruin our credit scores (somehow there was never a late payment), and we are so lucky it wasn’t worse. Depending on the month more than $1000 will now go toward extra debt payments and student loans, starting with the lowest amount/highest interest rate debt first, the credit cards. When that’s paid off, the normal payments to that rolls into the next lowest amount/highest interest until THAT’S gone, and so on. It will all be paid off within 5 years for sure, then we’ll be DEBT FREE.
Source: http://www.debtfree-and-in-the-black.com/baddebt.html

All in all, I can’t believe that I was immature enough to rely on my “future” job to get a car, but it’s all too common. I know I was lucky. We suffered no real losses, only true stress. I hope that people can learn from my mistake and NEVER count the chicks before they hatch, as they say. It has been a scary roller coaster and it’s FAR from over. We’re still in a somewhat precarious position, so I know we’re not out of the woods, but we’re for sure on the mend. We just have to pray month to month that nothing big happens to us or to our pup that will set our plan back further.

I’m Heather
A young twenty something wife, mommy to a fur baby, and a respiratory therapist. I blog to keep life in perspective and to connect with others! I blog over at The Life Unexpected, (heatherandtylerdraney.blogspot.com) and I hope you’ll take the time to stop in and say hi!


  1. says

    New cars are such a poor investment choice. I made the exact same mistake as you when i was in my early 20's and bought a brand new car that I didn't need. I still own the car and enjoy driving it, but it has depreciated in value heavily.
    On the plus side, having a new car has meant that I haven't had any major expenses on it to date.
    My recent post 30 Tips – How to Stay Safe on the Internet

    • Heather @ The Life Unexpected says

      Luckily for us, we didn’t buy BRAND new, so that helped us avoid that heavy initial drop in value, but it still hurts! We bought a 2010 in November of 2011. Still a bad choice as far as value goes, but at least we did something somewhat right 😛 I now know the best value in vehicles is a well maintained 4 year old vehicle. Thanks for reading!



  2. says

    Same dumb choice here on the car front. Mine was even worse, because at 18 I LEASED a brand new car. Ugh. So I had to pay to get out of that mess. I just paid it off last week finally! (I’m 23 now). Now any future cars will be paid for in cash!

  3. says

    Great advice! I feel this happens quite a bit. I have my eye on a newer used Ford Escape, but honestly I have to ask: can I afford it? Instead of ditching my car I am now driving it past 200k (almost at 203k miles now) and hoping it will get to the 225-250k range so that I can pay a bigger chunk of my next car in cash.

    I will definitely check out your site, always nice to see guest posts and get introduced to other bloggers that way.
    My recent post 20 Ideas for New Year’s Resolutions

  4. mycanuckbuck says

    Great post – and such an easy mistake to make. My hubby bought a brand new car after his first car, which was a clunker. What he didn't think about was how much his insurance was going to go up – so that was a big blow to handle.
    My recent post How I made it through school without going into debt

  5. Ashlee says

    This is definitely all too common. I wish I could go back now and do things differently money wise. You live and you learn, it's all part of life. :)

  6. EverdayLivingPNW says

    Sounds like you are doing alright to me. Your in your 20s and those mistakes are bound to happen. Knock out the credit card debt and keep up with the rest of the payments. Least your knew car has some value to it and so does your student loan debts (to land career base jobs).

    Do not stress about the car payments and student loans. Please don't go down the road I did. It almost ruined a relationship. I had to seriously change and lighten up. I am in my late 20s now, have a mortgage, car payment, and that is it. The student loans went away slowly but surely and we have no credit card debt (I married into 20 thousand worth of it, knocked it out in 2 years). I will tell you this life does happen. It always happens. You need a car to get to work (and a new one is way more reliable than a used…we just dropped 3900 to get ours fixed, we are almost 20,000 into it now next will be new) and you needed an education to get that job. soon you will probably want a house…sounds like your credit is good because you are making payments, that will help.

    Focus on some savings once the credit card debt is gone and do not put extra on the car or student debt. Let that pay off naturally. That will give you cushion for life happenings, cause they will happen especially over the next five years! If life doesn't happen and your savings stays steady then make a large payment on the car. If you don't you will have to pull that visa out when the dog gets sick, if you get knocked up (never know), or that family member gets sick across the country.

    If you be smart about it and relax a little you will be fine. Financial freedom is not just debt free. It is providing for your family in a responsible manner. Cars, housing, and education are in that category, credit cards are not.

    My recent post Never Forget…

  7. Shannon-ReadyForZero says

    Wow, sounds like a lot of stress in a relatively short period of time! I'm so glad that things have now worked out for you and your husband in the end. It is a solid reminder to not count the chickens before they hatch – a reminder so many of us need sometimes! Thanks for sharing your story with us!
    My recent post Should You Buy Your Family Lots of Holiday Gifts?

  8. RichUncle EL says

    IT seems the theme is we all made dumb mistakes with car purchases, if the younger generation can just learn from our mistakes they will be better off. But wait they do not want to hear us old people tell them what to do so the cycle will continue. Long story short story, I say sad story, but you were driving in style right? For me I bought a car that was, wait for it, 75% of my annual income. I must say I still have you beat because I had a job. Good luck.
    My recent post Spend Money to Make Money II

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