Why Financial Health Matters To Me
Financial health matters to me. It matters because I’m tired — tired of the worry, tired of my lack of options, tired of never feeling like the money I make is my own, tired of being run by my money and not the other way around. I wake up each day and check my balances — the credit cards, the student loans, the personal loan I took out to pay down a credit card, my motorcycle loan, my main bank account and finally my online savings account, the balance of which never seems to increase. My own debt accounts for more money than I’ll make in two years. But recently the view got a bit more grim.
My husband and I got married in March, and to answer the question that just popped into your head, yes, some of it went on credit cards. Last week we took the steps to combine our finances. It was the first time I’d added our numbers together. I have been quite painfully aware of my debt totals and my negative net worth, but I only had a rough estimate at his. He does not share my penchant for tracking account balances every month in a color-coded spreadsheet. Once he set me loose in his financial accounts, I added his student loans, his motorcycle loan, his bank account and his online savings account, and to my dismay, we owe more than six figures. According to the Center for Financial Services Innovation, 43% of Americans struggle to pay bills and credit payments. We’re not there currently, but one errant expense and we will be. We don’t spend extravagantly, or eat out with any frequency, or buy avocado toast and lattes every day, but we did pay credit for a wedding we hadn’t saved for despite carrying some credit card debt already. We also have two motorcycle loans and two sets of student loans.
Knowing all of this, you might think that financial health clearly doesn’t matter to me at all. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Improving my and our financial health is the only way out. It’s the only route to freedom — freedom from worry that if our dog gets sick, we won’t be able to take care of his vet bills; freedom from checking credit card accounts each morning to make sure we aren’t hovering too close to maxing out; freedom from hoping and praying that my 10-year-old car can make it another 10 because I certainly can’t afford to replace it anytime soon; freedom to choose where to allocate money rather than having it dictated by minimum payments; freedom to enjoy life unencumbered by the crushing weight of debt. Improving our financial health is the key to the future we want.
Thankfully, in this my husband and I are very much aligned. We can’t live like this; it’s not financially or emotionally sustainable. We want to live without worry. We want to have a savings account for our dog should he need medical care. We want to save up to pay cash for a vehicle. We want to be able to put our dollars to work for us rather than working for dollars that are already someone else’s. We want to be able say yes to opportunities that come our way, even if it means we’d have to shell out some cash to do so. But now comes the hard work.