by Rebecca Jameson-Financial Coach
My husband Alan and I back in 2016, on the day he graduated from the academy.
At the beginning of 2021, my husband, a sheriff's deputy, and I set goals for ourselves, like most people do at the beginning of the New Year. He wanted to have a better knowledge of our personal finances and I wanted to figure out a way I could work from home in an effort to be more available to our growing family. Little did I know, our two goals would soon intertwine into the same journey.
Let's rewind a little, to before my husband and I got married. We sat down one night to have that conversation that every soon to be married couple has (or should have)...the money talk. I truly believe the financial conversation is one of the most difficult conversations to have with someone. There is nothing that leaves you feeling more vulnerable than talking about your personal finances.
There is nothing that leaves you feeling more vulnerable than talking about your personal finances.
But we needed to have that conversation, so we could be transparent in what we were getting into with our upcoming marriage. I felt on edge, especially after finding out that my soon to be husband's only debts were small student loans. How was I going to tell him that my debt was substantially more than his? How was I going to tell him that while I too had student loans to pay off, there were also multiple credit cards with balances in the thousands of dollars?
I wish I could say that this revelation didn't worry my husband at the time. Of course it worried him, it would worry me too if I was on the receiving end of this kind of news. However, I promised him in that moment that I would continue to focus on paying off this debt until it was completely gone.
The thing about debt is that it's very personal. Most debt that is accrued is riddled with emotional reasons and rationales that we, as consumers, have convinced ourselves that we NEED. Most debt is impulsive. If it wasn't, we wouldn't have as much.
What was ironic about my personal debt, though, was that my career path is in the field of financial management. And, despite having a passion for accounting since I was a freshman in high school, despite having my first accounting job at the ripe age of 19, despite working my way up to being the director of a multi-million dollar program, I still didn't have a grasp on my personal finances. It's laughable that despite having a degree in financial management, I never once took a class that taught me how to manage my own money. But, I digress.
Finally married on August 3, 2018, and I still have his six.
Fast forward to married life, and true to my promise I began chipping away at my debts. I made up a budget for our household. I was making double, sometimes triple the minimum payments on all of my bills, but for some reason it never felt like we were getting ahead.
We soon realized that part of it was because we started accruing combined debt. We bought a house, then some furniture, had a baby, went on trips...all in all we were living a certain quality of life that we'd become accustomed to, and unfortunately that meant we started to incur more debt.
My husband and I, being the hard workers we were, would both rationalize with each swipe of our card or click of our computer mouse that "we deserve this" purchase...no matter how unnecessary it was. We worked hard, so we played even harder.
While we had decent paychecks hitting our bank account three times a month, we often found ourselves wondering where all the money was going. I mean, our bills were paid, and when I did the budget of our responsible expenditures each month, we had money left over...a nice, comfortable cushion to have fun with. But where was it all going?
I should probably briefly insert here that by this time, we were expecting baby number 2, had cancelled a kitchen remodel with the hopes of buying a bigger home, got chewed up and spit out by the real estate market boom of 2021, canceled the sale of our current home, and made impulse purchases to heal our wounds which resulted in us BOTH getting new vehicles which doubled our debt and added double car payments to our monthly list of bills.
Needless to say, we continued to find ourselves having that panicked conversation, at least once a month, wondering where all our money was going. This continuous problem eventually led us to seek outside help...because we shouldn't be in the financial situation we were in.
We continued to find ourselves having that panicked conversation, at least once a month, wondering where all our money was going.
My husband heard about Dave Ramsey, a personal finance personality, who has a podcast and several books based around the specific issue we were having. Not knowing where else to turn, we started listening and instantly decided to start the baby steps recommended by his program.
Within months we began to feel the benefits of telling our money what to do through a zero based budget (a concept I thought was only reserved for business style budgeting) and paying down our debt responsibilities with intensity. We made a plan for our money and for our family. We were going to be debt free.
We created our "WHY" and we began to align our finances with what our priorities were for our family, and as soon as we did that, our money began to work for us instead of against us. Our debt balance started dropping like the Times Square Ball on New Year's Eve. Over $30,000 paid off in only 7 months, and boy did it feel like a weight had been lifted.
Once we began spending with intention, we started to feel the financial stability we were looking for. Now my husband didn't have to carry our financial burden around with him on the job. Law enforcement officers already carry around too much weight (both literally and figuratively) and the burden of money stress is something that can be lifted with a simple plan and determination to do better for yourself and your family.
This is the peace, the financial clarity I want all LEO families to feel, because financial stress takes a toll. It's too big of a burden for our LEOs to carry with them each day, and it's too big for the support spouse to carry alone. I want to help your family feel the peace my husband and I feel. While it definitely takes some work, it's something that is achievable in just a few short months if you're ready to make the commitment.
Remember to take advantage of our FREE 15-minute Q&A call to determine how I can help you as a financial coach. During this call we'll briefly talk about where you're at, where you want to be, and how I can help get you there.