Getting out of debt turned my husband into an electrician, a mechanic, a plumber, and more.
To be clear, my husband works with computers. He is an IT professional which means three things: a) I text him when my scanner at work is broken (he loves that) b) I can’t tell you what he really does and c) I come home sometimes to him typing on a black computer screen with green letters, which leads me to believe that he might be in the CIA. However, I digress.
When we decided that we were going to take on all of our debt by the horns, it felt like life said “Jokes on you, you’re grown ups now. You won’t believe what unexpected problems will pop up.” Let me tell you, the variety and severity was wide, and we were not prepared.
The first thing that happened was the window in my 2003 Camry “fell down.” Well, actually, this happened the week we got married. We simply kept it rolled up and kept our fingers crossed for seven months until that fateful day at Cook Out. I forgot that I couldn’t roll the passenger side window down, and after that, it would never go back up. The power of milkshakes. Also, it was January, and the Camry is our only vehicle with four wheels. I finally called my local mechanic who I would trust to do anything, and she told me it would cost around $400. FOR ME TO BE ABLE TO ROLL MY WINDOW BACK UP. She explained that it was mostly in labor and that they would potentially have to replace the window because some teeny, tiny plastic piece had broken. I called my husband and told him the price; his immediate reaction was “No way. Nope. Not doing it.” My response to that was “OK then what is the plan because it is JANUARY.” My husband, who is not a mechanic, researched. And Youtubed. And researched some more. I had to drive in the cold for about a week, but he did it. He completely fixed it. The cost? Fifteen dollars (and some rage at how door panels work).
A similar thing happened when we purchased our garbage disposal and discovered that the original electricity and wiring just didn’t work. Calling an electrician, we found out, is not cheap. One weekend later, my husband had us a working garbage disposal. Now, it runs on borrowed power from the dishwasher and may not be ENTIRELY up to code, but that’s a different story. It works, y’all.
Our toilets are consistently running and hit us with a water bill 4x our normal one? Go to Lowes. My husband’s motorcycle needs a new part, and it’s $300 new? Scour eBay. Our insurance rate goes up $10 a month even though we had no claims all year? Get a competing rate and tell them you’re switching. You would be shocked at who will give you a deal if you simply ask.
Not only do all of these things add up and slow us down – we are learning increasingly valuable skills about how to sacrifice now, so we don’t have to later. The thing is- we could have technically “afforded” all of these little things that life has to throw at us. For us, it’s about getting in the habit of thriftiness when we are 25 so that when we are 45, we can go ahead and call the plumber. We can upgrade our vehicle for one that doesn’t make questionable noises. Our income is our most important vehicle for building wealth. The younger people are when they figure this out, the easier it is to harness. The sooner you harness this concept- the more quickly you can be ridiculously generous with it. Maybe to another couple, who can’t seem to roll their car window back up in January.