When we first got out of school we thought we were pretty smart. At least we would have an income. I got a job working as a technical writer for an impressive salary of $26,000/year. That seemed like a ton of money in 1988! Then my sweetie got a regular paying job and our combined incomes hovered near $50,000/year. We were so excited!
But we weren’t smart. We bought a new car because we only had one and now we needed two. Then we bought a piano because my sweetie always promised me one for graduation. Then he needed a stereo, I needed a new washer and dryer…you get the idea. Soon we were up to our eyeballs and then some in debt. Those little payments didn’t seem like much, but they just kept stacking up and they never went away when we only paid the minimum payments.
After a while we got tired of our extremely long commutes so we moved to the Wasatch Front. But were we careful? Did we look for a cheap little place while we got our finances under control? Of course not. We went for a nice townhouse on the east side. It had a beautiful stone fireplace that stretched for two floors. It had a large garage and a deck. It was also right up against the mountains so we had beautiful views, that is if we ever got a chance to enjoy them, we had beautiful views. No, we were too busy working like dogs just to pay the rent. I took a second job teaching nights, then a third. Somewhere in there the Drama Queen was born.
I remember feeling like I was drowning in a sea of debt and stupidity all the time. We managed to pay all of our creditors, but barely. Thank goodness for food storage or we wouldn’t have been able to feed the kids! Then finally one day we decided enough was enough. We got down on our knees, humbled ourselves before our Heavenly Father and told Him that we didn’t need a fancy house, we just needed a place to keep our little family safe and dry. We had a warm peaceful feeling that all would be well. With new resolve to get our financial house in order, we started looking for a small apartment on the west side. If we could manage to cut our rent nearly in half, all of our utilities would drop as well. That would give us the extra cash we needed to start really paying off some of our debt.
The first place we looked at was in the armpit of the valley. It was a tiny brick house with a bathroom that had a shower curtain that simply divided the room. The water was expected to run down the walls of the room itself and out through a drain in the floor. It had an ancient pot-bellied stove for heat and the walls were coated in smoke and dust. It was old and awful and just what we were looking for to sufficiently humble ourselves. We put in a call to the landlord but he was out of town for the next few days. As we drove back to our babysitter’s house, we were quiet and subdued. I don’t think either one of us were looking forward to THIS much humility, but we were determined.
Our babysitter had recently moved into a new house in a brand new neighborhood. The homes were small but beautiful and well made. Once again we drove past the house with the "For Sale" sign on the lawn. Maybe someday we would be able to afford a house too. We picked up the Drama Queen and headed for the Montessori School to get the other kids. They would not be happy about giving up their large bedroom for what we were going to give them. But our sea of debt was threatening to pull us under.