The Line in the Sand

For a few days now, I’ve been participating in a group made up of Peas who want to get their finances under control and get out of debt. I figure we were in debt long enough…I should use those experiences for good for someone else now.

Anyone who knows me, knows, that with the one exception--our home, we don’t use debt at all. No credit cards. No HELOC. No car loans. Nada. For the first decade of our marriage, J and I struggled to stay “afloat” financially. We made some mistakes, did some stupid things and had some rough things happen to us that were beyond our control and the sum of those events led us deeply into debt. Slowly, but surely, we’ve worked our way out and we will *never* go there again.

So, today, the Financial Peas group was discussing “What lead you over the edge…?” What event or chain of events led you to want to ultimately get in control of your money and be debt-free? What prompted your “line in the sand”?

For me, it was all about furniture. (There’s a surprise.) About 6 years ago, just after we moved to Nashville, we were still deeply in debt but we needed a few small pieces of furniture. Well, if I’d had my way, we would have *needed* quite a bit of furniture but I was trying to be conservative, given the funding issues. Nashville has some great thrift stores and junque stores, so I was scouting them for things I could use.

At that point, we had paid off all the credit card debts and committed to each other not to use credit cards ever again. We were slowly coming into some wisdom where financial matters are concerned. Our main inspiration was Dave Ramsey, a Nashvillian who hosts a nationally-broadcast talk radio show about money. I was on board with the plan of getting out of debt, but let’s just say I wasn’t yet fully integrated into the plan. I still wanted furniture…now.

So, in an effort to integrate the two (getting out of debt while still buying furniture), I was scouring thrift stores and jungue stores.

At The Salvation Army Thrift store on Charlotte Pike I found the most beautiful, say it again, b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l burgundy leather sofa and loveseat combination I’ve ever seen. It had just been dropped off and they were moving it in. The smell of leather is like a drug to me and I recognized it right away. If you love leather furniture as I do…you know what I mean when I say it was amazing! It looked like it came from an upscale office…maybe a judge or a psychiatrist. It wasn’t fake leather…it was the real stuff…beautifully aged in places…but in perfect condition. My heart skipped several beats. (OK so I’m a furniture nut.)

The price: $3oo - - - for both pieces.

I was ill. I cried. I was tempted to stomp my feet.

It should have been waaay more than that…about $2800 by my somewhat educated estimation.

But no matter. I didn’t have $3oo to spend on a sofa. Or even two perfect leather sofas. Just didn’t have it. Knew it wasn’t even worth discussing with my honey because we had almost no savings and there were more important things to be done with our money than buying two perfect leather sofas.

That was the line in the sand for me. That was the day I realized that this was not the way I wanted to live the rest of my life. That was the day I got “on board the debt-free” train.

I can be hard-headed sometimes. I wish I could say that I wanted to save money and be debt-free for the good of my children and our future. And I do, but that was not the goal that got me on board personally.

I wish I could tell you that the plans we have inspire me to continue on this path. They do but that was not the point that got me on board personally.

For me, it all boils down to that amazing pair of leather sofas. That’s when I knew I was going to work with my husband to change the way we lived. We were going to get in control of our money, be adults instead of children, and get out of debt.

I never want to face that feeling of “why didn’t I save any money” ever again. I want to always know that I have done wise things, as much as I know how.

Some of my friends have mentioned that maybe it wouldn’t have been such a bad thing to go get a credit card or use the line of credit at our bank and buy the sofas. Afterall, it could have been a short-term deal and those were certainly some fine sofas at a once-in-a-lifetime price. And I agree, we could have.

But I guess, even then, I had a sense that this was a lesson I had to learn the hard way. Sometimes I don’t pay attention until it hurts, ya know.

The Day of the Leather Sofas protects me. Every time I think of doing something stupid with our money and every time I think, “well, maybe we could take advantage of the 1-year-no-interest plan for installing wood floors throughout our house”…then I remember what being in debt has already cost me.


That’s all I am willing to pay for this lesson


Nicole said...

Wow I am seriously in awe. This post was great.. and you have amazing self control. I think we can all rationalize why we "need" something.. and that's what is hard for me.

Kim said...

that was very inspiring. My hubbby and I are working with debt counselors at Dave Ramsey's office. They are awesome!

Thanks for sharing your story.

Sherry said...

Your story is one that I think Millions of Americans LIVE daily. Unfortunately, many don't resist the temptation. I know... I'm one of them. However, we have goals that we can reach by following that simple plan... stay DEBT free and buy with cash.. it's HARD in our society but it works... if you let it