In 2007, life was amazing. We were complete morons, but hadn’t come to that realization yet, and as they say, ignorance is bliss. Right up until the light bulb snaps on and you see the enormous fucking hole you’ve been spending yourself into.
The economy was great. Scott’s one remaining business was raking in money. I was making decent money, but Scott was making so much I didn’t even bother to investigate how much less I was settling for. Like I said, I was a moron.
We had bought our first home a few years before, we had 2 cars, 2 dogs, and 2 incredibly bad spending habits. We went out with friends several times a week (at least half the time – more if Scott could manage to grab the check before someone else – it was on us, at our insistence). I went to Target every Saturday and bought shit I mostly did not need – clothing, crap for the house, DVDs, books, whatever. (I’m embarrassed to admit I once bought, in a single Linens & Things trip, a $200 trash can and a set of $80 per panel curtains.* This is why we use fake names.) For a while, Scott had a gun and knife habit that was absurd.**
We were spending like the money would never stop coming in. And we were saving, but not anywhere near the amount we should have been.
Up until 2006, we had been, well, I won’t say smart with money, but we weren’t completely insane. We had purchased a modest home ($70,000 mortgage), in a coop community (which is a fancy name for trailer park…we bought a modular, not a trailer, because they retain their value better, but it’s still in a trailer park). We shared 1 used car. With Scott making so much money, I quit my job shortly after we bought the house, and we lived an average life. Quitting my job meant we had to pay out of pocket for insurance, which cost us $600 a month, which was our biggest single expense. We had gym memberships and went every day, I cooked at home almost every night, and neither of us shopped on a regular basis, except for grocery shopping. But we also didn’t think twice about buying things we wanted now and then. And we weren’t saving much.
Quitting my job made me feel like I didn’t have much to say when it came to our finances. It’s ridiculous, but for a long time, I felt like my money was ours, but Scott’s money was his, even though Scott never did anything to make me feel that way, and absolutely did not feel that way himself.
The tipping point came when I went back to work in late 2005. Since I had to commute to work, we got a second used car. My income (about $32,000 a year, before taxes, etc, plus our insurance cost was cut in half) was like extra cash, and since I was working more than full time and commuting for more than an hour each day, I had much less time for cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and working out (or so I told myself). So the gym memberships were used less and less, and dining out became more and more frequent. Until it became nearly nightly. And why not bring our friends along? At the height of our madness, we were spending $500 a week (A WEEK!) on restaurants alone (that’s more than millions of people earn before taxes).
Scott drove to the nearby coffee shop every day, 3 times a day, to get iced lattes (we don’t remember the price, but they were at least $2.50 each, so let’s go with $7.50 a day minimum). Most days, I stopped to buy breakfast on my way to work and bought lunch (if I didn’t have left overs). And I stopped nightly at a fast food restaurant to get a large soda. For a long time, I got these mostly for free, because we struck up a friendship with the manager. But when I did pay for them, the were $1.50 each.
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We sold the (paid off) first used car, and bought a brand new, sporty, turbo charged car for Scott.
Scott and his business partner started a fourth business, that was not only never profitable, it was a money vacuum. Part of that vacuum were several annual trips to events (and when they were in places I wanted to go, like Las Vegas, I tagged along).
It makes me sick to my stomach to think of all of the money we burned through during this time in our lives. Our spending was truly out of control. I can’t even calculate how much it is, which is just disgusting. We were gluttonous and wasteful. Scott’s motto was “I’ll just make more money.” And for quite a while, he did.
To summarize, here are all the stupid things we wasted money on, just in what I’ve detailed here (we’ll get into deeper discussions in later posts about some of these, and why they are problematic):
- We put $0 down on our new house, so we were paying about $25 a month in PMI insurance.
- Even though we had the money and our mortgage payment was low, we were not paying any extra on our mortgage each month
- Not 1, but 2 car payments (I did make extra payments on my car, and Scott’s car was a 0% loan, so at least there’s that)
- Dining out nearly every day, sometimes multiple times a day
- Saving less than 5% of our income
- Uncontrolled spending on anything and everything we wanted
I wish I could say this was everything we did wrong. But the worst is yet to come.
*I didn’t realize the garbage can cost that much until I got it to the register (I was looking at the wrong sign), and I thought the curtains were a set until I got them home. But I still bought them, and didn’t take them back, for which I have zero excuse. The only positive thing I have to say about it is, we still have both of them, 14 years later.
**These are some of the only tangible things we have to show for all of the spending we did during this time period.