Why Did I Start Bread and Budget?
Does the world need another millennial blogging about getting out of debt? Probably not. So why am I doing this? Well, despite the numerous resources out there (including one of my favorites), I see far too many individuals choosing not to pursue financial independence and freedom.
Over the last three years I have become incredibly passionate about personal finance, and debt reduction. I have read books ranging from very practical ways to save money, to the psychology of those that have become first-generation wealthy (The Millioniare Next Door, or the Millionaire Mind by Thomas Stanley are both amazing reads. You can find them on Overdrive, Hoopla, or on Amazon). As I read, I became fascinated with disciplining my financial life. Long story short, I fell in love with becoming debt free.
A bit about me: I didn’t grow up in a rich family, heck I barely grew up in a family. My parents didn’t divorce; they were actually never married. By the time I was in the 8th grade, I had been in over 6 schools. I was in foster care from the 7th grade through my departure for college.
All that to be said, I didn’t exactly have the greatest financial education growing up. Still, I ended up going to school for engineering (Boiler Up.) and was steering my life in a pretty good direction. Then I had my first taste of consumer debt. After landing an internship with a Fortune 100 company, the ’91 Honda Accord I bought in high school started looking like… well a ’91 Honda Accord.
I never had an issue with it previously, but as soon as I landed that internship I felt the need to buy a newer and more expensive ride. Two things drug me into the trap of consumer debt: The desire to manage an external perception, and three words: “I deserve it.”
My Debt Affair
So I took out an $11,000 loan on my first “Big Boy” car. I thought I was officially stepping into adulthood. The following summer, I decided I didn’t like the color of this car. I thought I would be much cooler with a black car. So I traded in the car I owned for 4 months and took home a shiny black one with another $3,500 in debt in the backseat.
On top of that, despite my school being paid for I borrowed money in order to maintain a lifestyle of fun and leisure. I kept telling myself: “You are going to make good money as an engineer. You will have more than what you need. Enjoy yourself now… School is hard… You deserve this.”
My Ball and Chain
Long story short, I ended up graduating and working for a Fortune 250 organization as a quality engineer. Roughly 9 months later I found myself unemployed because I was immature, unfocused, and undisciplined. My life went into a minor tailspin as I wrestled with my identity and the debt that I had accumulated (because I was going to have a really good job, remember?)
I moved in with my older brother and began looking for work. While unemployed, I still had little control over my budget and took on more debt. I was stuck in a mindset which said my present money decisions were insignificant because my future income would be enough to cover my current consumption. That thinking eventually led me to a peak of ~$30,000 of consumer debt before the age of 25. Woof.
At Least Rock Bottom is a Solid Foundation
I woke up to my financial situation while having a difficult time making some minimum payments. In the past, I had read some of Dave Ramsey’s work and began wondering if that could help my situation.
I brushed off my copy of “Total Money Makeover” and re-read it; this time with a brand new set of eyes. I realized that allowing myself to accumulate debt was robbing me of future freedom. It also robbed me of growth on my own capital. I can’t explain exactly what happened in my heart and mind, but I had a paradigm shift. I finally understood that my financial decisions were wrecking my life.
Time to Buckle Down
I decided I need to make some drastic changes. I sold some of stuff, I got on a budget, and I aggressively paid off loans. Eventually my wife and I became debt free. Since then, we have kept a monthly budget, sacrificed some comforts, and have slowly gotten to a place of financial freedom. We haven’t arrived, but we are striving to live generously, and are diligently seeking financial independence through good stewardship.
This blog exists to encourage and equip you to do the same.
After all, man shall not live on bread alone.