As the first post in this blog, I find it necessary to give you a small glimpse into my history to lend to my credibility. My financial journey started many years ago in my youth. My parents taught me to balance a check book, they cosigned on a credit card for me in my teenage years to start building my credit, and charged me monthly rent when I was 18 years old. We infrequently spoke about money and I knew nothing about investments.
I knew it was bad to spend more money than I made but that was about all I knew about money. I had a vehicle loan and a small balance on my credit card as I entered adulthood.
As I started community college, I worked at a local restaurant. I spent all the money I made eating at restaurants, buying overpriced rims for my truck, stereo systems, and video games. Life was grand… and as I type this, I envy those carefree days, and at the same time regret all the financial opportunity I missed. I was living only for myself, not realizing that a few years later I would be living for everyone else, especially my family.
I landed a good paying career at 20 years old and bought a 2 bedroom 1 bath condominium for an astronomical price in 2005. Of course, in 2005 the housing market was inflated and about to burst, so my overpriced condo seemed like a good deal at the time. I grew up thinking that renting a home was the same as throwing away money so I bought as early as I could. Shortly after purchasing my condo, my vehicle hit 100k miles. With that many miles, my vehicle was getting desperately close to needing much more in repairs than it was worth so I sold it and purchased another car – with a loan from the dealer. I hope by now you see all the terrible financial decisions I made early on that affected me later in life. If my early years seem totally fine to you, you need this blog much more than you thought!
I continued on with my life running with $2,000 in my checking account and a couple hundred in my savings. I held a $1,000 balance on my credit card but I was making payments a bit more than the minimum to slowly pay it off. Someone at work told me I should be contributing to my retirement account so I felt that $50.00 a paycheck was sufficient.
As you can tell, my life was on the fast track to being normal – just like everyone else. According to a recent article by CNBC, the average household with credit card debt owes $16,883.¹ As you read that number, you are either thinking to yourself – “whew, at least I don’t owe that much” or, “I WISH I only owed that much.” Either way, that is where I was headed without giving it a second thought.
Fast forward 8 years and I quickly realized something needed to change. After having several come to Jesus meetings with my wife, I finally have my finances and future in order. My only regret is not starting sooner. As I write this, I have no vehicle payments, no student loan debt, no credit card debt, and no other debts except for my home which will be paid off in 2.5 years. No, this is not the overpriced condo I am talking about. After the housing market crashed, my interest only loan ballooned and I was embarrassingly no longer able to afford my home. I now have a modest single family home I share with my wife and 3 kids and I will soon be completely debt free with a sizable retirement and investment account that continue to grow while I sleep.
This is not an attempt to boast – in fact it is just the opposite. It is my goal for you to learn from my mistakes and hopefully glean a strategy from my errors that will uplift you and take away your financial stress. I pray this blog is a blessing to you at whatever stage of life you are in. Please do not hesitate to reach out – I will be here to cheer you on and answer any questions about finance and life you may have. I certainly do not know all of the answers, but I know where to find them. Keep your head up, and I look forward to cheering you on!