My wife and I were married on September 11, 1999. When we got married, neither of us had any debt.
We both had good jobs. I worked for Merrill Lynch. My wife worked for Parker Blake, a company that specialized in commercial picture framing.
At first, we lived modestly. We drove a 1985 Saab 900 Turbo that I had purchased for $1,250. We bought a condominium for less than $97,000. The mortgage payments, after our down payment, were only $600 a month.
Life wasn’t luxurious, but it was good.
During the first two years, we used credit sparingly and paid off debt quickly.
For instance, we bought some furniture from Ethan Allen for our condo. We financed it to build our credit. Then we paid off the balance before we were charged any interest.
Later, when we couldn’t tolerate driving without air conditioning any longer, we financed a 2001 Hyundai Elantra. We paid off the car in two years, and we are still driving it today.
These are examples of the few times we made reasonably prudent decisions. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for us to begin using credit in an unhealthy manner. We started buying more with credit cards. We began carrying our balances.
What caused this to happen?
It was really my fault. You see, I’ve got an entrepreneurial bent. And I got bit by the “get rich quick” bug. For more than a couple years, I bought almost anything that promised to help me make money fast.
Some of the purchases were small. Sometimes $50. Sometimes $100. While these purchases were mostly a waste, they did not create a debt burden. It was when I started spending the big money that my debt problems started.
First, there was H. Roger Neal’s Fast-Flip Real Estate program. It cost $5,000. I bought it.
Unfortunately, I realized too late that his strategies violated my personal ethics. I simply could not do what he recommended.
But this ridiculously expensive purchase was nothing compared to what came next…