I Hate D*BT

I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that “debt” is a four letter word. I’ve seen it fly out of the mouths of family members with just as much despair and pain as you would any common obscenity that comes to mind when you stub your toe or shatter a glass in the kitchen. There are many a financial guru that could break down the benefits of “good” debt and “bad” debt. I’m far from guru status, but I do know one thing: Debt can turn even the most docile budgeter into a swear-slinging mess. (Sorry Mom!)

Our “debt story” was not written with extravagant purchases or an over-the-top lifestyle, but rather a series of events that we simply didn’t prepare for or anticipate.

Over the course of ten years, my husband and I struggled with infertility. Through medical intervention we were blessed with two healthy daughters. In our tenth year we tried for a third little miracle, but medical assistance no longer worked. We couldn’t deny the feeling that our family wasn’t complete. We felt strongly that we should pursue adoption.

Our adoption experience was beautiful and terrifying and exactly what we were supposed to do to find our precious little girl. Since this is a financial blog and not a Mommy magazine, I’ll resist waxing poetic about the miracle of adoption (but I could….for days!!) and instead I will share one simple fact with you: Private adoption is really expensive.

We would do it all again and pay a million times more for our little one, but I know that if we had the structure of YNAB to cope with such a large payment, it wouldn’t have been such a financial strain. Instead, we were left with…..debt.

Two months before the adoption our eight year old Nissan Xterra decided it didn’t want to give us cool air conditioning anymore. It sputtered and groaned every time I put the key into the ignition. With our new addition on the way we needed a bit more room and a car that wouldn’t melt our baby. Although our brother-in-law helped us get an incredible deal, we hadn’t had a car payment for years. We incurred…. more debt.

Six months after our youngest was born, I came home from a day of errands to find that our fridge had leaked and soaked through our wood floors. What I thought was just a simple clean-up job in our kitchen turned into flood repair and a three month remodel with walls hacked to pieces and replacement wood for the entire first floor. And we were left with….a hefty insurance deductible.

Eight months after the birth of our baby, my husband went to his PCP for an exam. He’d been having pain in his right leg and had previously been to the ER where they diagnosed him with a “pinched nerve”. Two hours after his scheduled appointment I received a call from him saying that it wasn’t a nerve at all but a giant blood clot that had formed from his waist to his ankle. He was being rushed into emergency surgery. By the time I made it to the vascular center, his surgery was well under way. A surgeon pulled me aside and showed me the ultrasound video of my husband’s clot. He pointed to a large piece that was flapping back and forth on the screen.

“This is not good. This clot was days, maybe hours from breaking free…and taking his life.”

Over the course of six weeks my husband had three lifesaving surgeries. I could fall to my knees and sob with gratitude for the incredible team of doctors that brought my husband home to me and our three girls (and I have….for days!) but since this is a financial blog and not a Lifetime Movie, I’ll resist. I will say this: Teams of doctors send medical bills that are really expensive.

Over the course of a year we incurred more debt than we had in the previous ten. I wince a little when I think of how different things might’ve been if YNAB had been our companion a year and a half ago when all of this took place. The good thing is, we have YNAB now and a very workable plan in place to help us avoid any unladylike cursing as we take steps to heal from a very chaotic (and bank account draining) year.

Soon we’ll even be able to start saving for those “rainy days”… or floods….or emergency surgeries….

Tell me, friends, has YNAB helped you stop the bleeding and heal the wounds of debt? (What’s it like on the other side?? I imagine rainbows and running through fields of flowers!) Are you still in the trenches like us? What is your debt story?