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It Hurt to Look at Our Finances: But I’m Doing it Anyway

A note from YNAB before we begin: Krys shared her story over on the retired YNAB support forum about the moment she decided to get a handle on her deepening debt balance. It was too good not to share. Over the coming weeks, we’re going to follow along on her financial journey. Let’s cheer her on!

My name is Krys (sounds like “Chris”). This is my family. Me on the left there, my husband on the right, and kiddo in the middle. Not pictured are our three pets – two cats and a dog – but they’re very much members of the family, too.

I Started Budgeting to Get Rid of Debt

I started using YNAB on November 2, 2019, and jumped in with both feet. I mean, I ran full steam, threw myself off that cliff, arms and legs splayed, head thrown back, with the wild abandon of a teenager without fear, into the crystal clear waters of YNAB.

The seemingly carefree leap isn’t so carefree, though. I’m being pursued by debt. Growing debt. It started with the credit card float (seemingly harmless). Then it grew with a massive window that began to rot and needed replacing (hello new HELOC). It grew further with a washing machine that died (gotta have the matching dryer!). And it grew further with an emergency appendectomy in August (so THAT’s what’s been hurting so much?), that has resulted in thousands of dollars in medical bills. It continues to grow with an unexpectedly large car repair this month (oh, MAN…).

Between an existing car loan, two credit cards, the line of credit, and the medical bills, we are almost $20,000 in debt.

We are almost $20,000 in debt.

Not All Debt Feels the Same

Some of the debt I’m more fine with than others. Owning a reliable car that I enjoy driving, that carries a reasonable monthly payment, is debt worth having, in my opinion. Borrowing against the house to repair the house is acceptable, and repaying it slowly over time is also reasonable.

But some of it hurts. I’ve always paid off the credit card every month. I’ve been budgeting in Mint for more than a decade. We’ve been living more or less on my income for almost 10 years, and I got us through some tough times when my husband got laid off way back then. I look back and wonder how we survived on the income I had back then. But survive we did, and we’d made good progress in some areas, too.

I Had a Good Handle On Our Finances, Until I Didn’t

I felt like I had a good handle on our finances. Until I didn’t. I quit paying attention when I got a raise a couple years ago that pushed us beyond what I’d been budgeting for our monthly expenses, thinking that we’d just spend like we’ve been spending, things would take care of themselves, and there would be money left over, because I was making more. Because of that inattention, we have been living beyond our means, nearly every month since my raise.

We Were Never Getting Ahead

A few months ago, I looked at Mint, and was aghast at what I saw. Month after month of overspending. A little here, a little there, a lot right there, and then a month where things evened out because of extra income (Christmas, birthday, tax refund, credit card cash back). But we never got ahead because we were in this cycle of overspending and catching up, that I hardly paid any attention to, for far too long. I realized we were not in good shape, but I was ashamed of what I’d let us do, and I buried my head a bit. I didn’t address the situation.

Then things got really interesting. In August, I had been in relative discomfort and fighting a cold for six weeks or more, and finally went to the local clinic, who sent me to the ER, who ran every test they had, and ultimately discovered my appendix was in need of immediate removal. One emergency appendectomy and three days in the hospital later, we had $3,500 in medical bills to pay. I was forced to look at our real financial picture, to understand what we could afford to pay.

I Decided to Finally Do Something About It

Have you ever been slapped in the face, hard? It feels like your eyeball is going to explode out the front. As the eye starts to water, your nose starts to run, and your face goes all flushed with the adrenaline rush that comes naturally from the need to protect yourself. You hear your heartbeat in your ears, as blood rushes to deliver the adrenaline to every inch of your body.

Well that feeling? THAT is what I felt when I scrutinized our finances. It HURT. Physically. My head hurt, my heart hurt, my guts hurt. UGH. Ouch. Harrumph.

That pain brought me here. And, here is a good place. I know RIGHT where we stand. I’m not HAPPY about it, but our situation is clear to me. And that’s how we start.

Krys is enjoying working from home during the lockdown, because she loves spending time with her husband, daughter, and three pets. She’s been using YNAB since 2019 and has been documenting her journey in paying off almost $20,000 of debt. When she’s not budgeting, she enjoys reading, watching Marvel movies, and learning new languages. She also possesses a fierce love of bacon and sarcasm.

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It Hurt to Look at Our Finances: But I’m Doing it Anyway