New Debt…

We’ve been struggling with new debt in our household. I call it new debt because we spent the last 20 years living with Student Loan Debt, so this debt feels relatively new for us.

I know when the new debt started. It was about 9 years when we applied for our first line of credit. You know, to help us out while I was on maternity leave and for emergencies.

At first, we used it a bit.

The maximum amount that was available for us to use was $5,000.

We laughed at that.

What kind of emergency would we need $5,000 for?! Crazy.

About a year before we got our line of credit I was visiting with a friend who was telling me about her line of credit. She told me it was over $33,000 and she had no idea how it got there. It just happened. It just kept growing and growing. She never told her partner. It was her secret. She was embarrassed to tell me and she was a bit scared to tell her partner.

I honestly sat there in awe. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, how could someone get that deep into debt? With all due respect, they had nothing to show for it.

They didn’t drive new vehicles. They didn’t live in a new home. They didn’t own brand new atvs, campers or toys.

They were regular people, just like us.

I went home that night and talked to my husband.

He was equally in shock.

How could they let this happen?

It was a question, I couldn’t understand until it started happening to us.

Slowly, I was finding myself unable to pay my monthly credit card bill and to avoid such a large interest fee, I was transferring money over from our line of credit, it seemed like such a smart idea.  Then my available line of credit was increased to $7,500. Then my available limit was raised to $10,000 and then $14,500.

Just like my friend, I didn’t know how it was happening.

Yes, I am not in it as deep as I could be. But, I am still in it deep enough to make me wonder how things got this out of hand.

Every month I put money into the kids Registered Education Fund.

Every month I put money into my RRSP.

We have Tax Free Savings Accounts.

We have a rainy day/emergency account that will allow us to live for 6 months without jobs.

We even saved for our trip to Disneyland.

It seemed like I was really good at saving but not so great at paying down debt.

Even yesterday as my husband and I sat down to look at our budget we were shocked at the amount of credit line debt that we have. We thought we were doing so well because we had been saving so much.

Chris has a good job.

I run a successful small business.

Our only real debt is our mortgage and our monthly van payment.

Sure, there are other things, but I’m not going to make a huge tally for you to see. I’m honest, but not that honest.

I still don’t quite get how we got to this place.  Maybe I am being naive.

I mean obviously, I am being naive.

I have googled a few articles. Sadly, we are not alone. There are a lot of us out there.

I read online that the average consumer debt is $15,000. Consumer debt is things that don’t depreciate. Like, going out to eat or clothes. 

I’ve never considered myself a person who wanted to keep up the Jones’s but at times I am guilty as hell for doing it. Apparently, a ton of us are.

Maybe we shouldn’t have bought those Minnie Mouse ears in Disneyland. Maybe we could have bought a used vehicle. Maybe we didn’t need to buy a couch in 2015. Maybe I shouldn’t have spent $54 at dinner with my friend. Maybe we shouldn’t have put our kid in dance. Maybe we should have said no to hockey this year. Maybe we shouldn’t have bought the Blundstones.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

If I could go back in time, would anything really be any different?

I honestly thought we are frugal. I even have a few friends that tease me about it.

I’ve never thought of ourselves as people who live above our needs.

Yet, somehow we got here.

And somehow we have to get out of this hole before it gets any bigger.



16 thoughts on “New Debt…

  1. Canadians are living with a lot of debt. That’s a fact.
    I believe you can get out and that, indeed, you will.
    You are brave for sharing your story – and it will help someone else to face their own reality.
    You are already headed in the right direction just by being honest with yourselves. Seriously, you’ve got this.

  2. I Super Value every honest word of this post. I have to tell you, it’s so common. We get ahead. We fall behind. Our debt accumulates. You find a way to pay it off… And then it’s back. One thing after another, I wish it wasn’t a thing. I kind of wish we never got credit cards in the first place. Sometimes I feel like I’m sinking. My husband has an amazing job and gets paid good money, and I to run a successful small business from home… and yet, debt. I just want to get out of this hole.

  3. yeah we I had to have emergency surgery I was off work for well over 4 months(ended up with two surgeries) I got about $700/month from EI, was used to triple that from working LOL. Things haven’t gotten better, hubby has been unemployed since OCT,, son got laid off and moved back home so he’s helping pay bills with me (hubby doesn’t make enough on EI to pay the bills he used to ) He ALMOST had a job but it went bankrupt (one week into the job lol, he’s bad luck, he is, this is the 3 or 4th job thats closed down)

  4. Completely understand. Living within your means is extremely hard, no matter how well paying of a job you have. I think to myself all the time that I gotta stop making stupid purchases or cut back on comfort foods or drinks. The problem is for every cent you cut back on the luxuries, it seems needed expenses keep piling up like increases to hydro or phone bills… I keep saying I can’t wait until I no longer have to buy diapers or formula, only to realize I’m spending hundreds on dance, swim club and skiing. God help me when my son (or daughters maybe) gets old enough to play hockey.
    Can’t my kids be interested in book clubs and video games like I was growing up??

  5. What a great, and honest, article! I suspect you are not alone, in fact, I know you aren’t. Been there. Done that. It literally does happen before you know it. It happens because of exactly all those “little” things you speak of. Oh, we need a vacation this winter and it’s only $1500. Johnny has to continue in hockey. It has been a tough week, we deserve a dinner out. Darn, there’s nothing to eat tonight. Let’s order pizza. And sometimes, life just throws you a curveball and you end up having to throw small debts on a loc…until one day you are staring at a large amount owing. Good for you guys for seeing it happening and realizing you need to do something about it now.

  6. It’s hard because it’s incremental and you don’t remember spending all that money. I’ve been there on my own; we’ve been there during our narried life. It takes time to crawl out and maybe you need an outside expert to help you plan your way through it.

  7. I’m $12,000 in debt right now. Just me! You’re not alone. I ended up doing a similar thing to you guys. I wasn’t able to make the minimum payment towards my credit card that I racked up so I took out a personal loan to pay it off in full & to help with other bills. Once I did that my credit went from $3,000 to $5,000. Yay, an extra $2,000 to buy stuff for around the house. Bad idea! I’m now struggling to make the minimum payments again & even worse now because the amount is higher. With the personal loan & the credit, I’m in debt $12,000+ & all I can think of is getting my credit back into good standing with is thankfully happening slowly. By making my payments on time for the personal loan, I’ve seen an increase of 30 points, or however they calculate that, on my credit score. It’ll take some time but the gradual increase in my score makes me happy.

    Best of luck to you guys with your debt. I hope you’ll see the positives coming back to you as I’ve seen happen for myself.

    1. Thanks Jason. I guess that is what I am trying to share, it just seemed to happen, slowly over the years. Very scary. Thanks for sharing with me.

  8. Thanks for that Ky I also am in that same boat. it’s very easy to dip into that account. even harder to get you back out. I also keep a close eye and the bank keeps increasing the amount that is available.

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