Part 1 of Financial Freedom Friday
As high school sweethearts, Mark and I had dated for four years by the time we got married in 1993. We still had a year and a half of college left at the time but had a budget and a plan to live off of our scholarships, ROTC money and part time jobs.
Our housing was paid for with scholarships and we had about $450 a month to cover food, utilities, gas, insurance, etc. We ate a lot of Mac N Cheese and Hamburger Helper in those months but it was a pretty carefree life.
Not long after we’d been married we decided we “needed” a newer car. We put together some wedding money and crunched numbers and decided we could afford the $156 car payment. I think we actually covered part of the down payment with student loan money (ugh!).
As we finished up college there were of course “unexpected” expenses and by the time we graduated we had a couple thousand dollars worth of credit card debt, and the car debt.
Shortly before graduation the Army offered ROTC graduates a “wonderful” deal on a new car – 6 months of no payments and a low interest rate loan. Since we’d need two vehicles Mark went out and found a truck. Because if you’re going to live in Texas you need a truck, right?
It was a nice feeling to leave for Texas with at least one guaranteed job and a known salary. For a couple used to living on $450 a month we were looking forward to having a real income.
Unfortunately we didn’t really take the time to make a plan for what to do with that money.
The first six months of our new life seemed to include plenty of disagreements about the money, surprise $175 long distance phone bills (long before the days of free cellular long distance), and disorganized bill payment system.
But that didn’t deter us from making the leap to homeowners. The housing market in San Antonio was such that we quickly realized we could buy a house with a mortgage payment about the same as our rent. So we quickly added a $69,000 VHA (no money down) loan to our debt portfolio.
And of course a house needs furniture right? Where do you think the money came for that? Yep, good old Visa.
In the midst of all this it’s not like we were living in denial. Neither one of us liked the debt and we did try to shop wisely but the cycle just perpetuated every month.
Next Week: The Early Years: Joining Financial Baggage