An Oil Change and a Conversation About Debt

Oil Change

Image courtesy of Surachai /

Pulling out my debit card to pay for my oil change, I told the young man behind the counter who my employer was and asked if I qualified for a discount.  He acknowledged that I did, punched a few buttons and said, “Looks like that saves you 8 bucks.” Up until this point, our conversation had been standard small talk, but here’s where it got interesting.

“Every little bit helps, right?” he continued.

“Absolutely,” I responded.

“My girlfriend has me going to this financial peace thing,” he stated.

“Oh, you mean Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University?  What baby step are you on?”

His jaw just about hit the floor in disbelief that I knew what he was talking about. He went on to explain that at first he didn’t think he needed to go because he was young and didn’t have nearly as much debt as other people his age.  But his girlfriend convinced him to go, and he was sort of glad he did because he was learning a lot.

“That’s awesome,” I said, “take care of your debt while you’re young, before it becomes a real problem.  Trust me on that one.”

Walking out the door, I realized I had a strange feeling throughout our brief conversation.

I’m one of those people that doesn’t believe in coincidences. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that people are brought into your life when you need them. I have some friends that entered my life when I desperately needed help and support on my journey out of debt.  They’ve been walking along with me ever since, and I will never be able to thank them enough for everything they’ve done for me.

Taking about your debt is a very difficult thing to do, I know that from personal experience.  Why did this young man decide to have this conversation with me?  Was he just one of those people that is extremely conversational, or was he looking for some kind of validation or assurance that he was heading in the right direction, and for some reason thought I was the right person to open up to?  If there’s one thing I can speak with authority on, it’s the consequences of not paying attention to your finances, and waiting too long to do something about it.

I honestly feel like I was supposed to be at that place, at that time, to have that conversation.

Maybe this young man will never think of our exchange again.  On the other hand maybe it will provide him with just that little extra push to keep going to his FPU sessions, giving him the chance to develop the tools to get his finances on track for good.

Do you believe in coincidences?  Do you ever feel like you’ve been put into a situation specifically to learn something, or to have someone learn something from you?

About Travis

20 Responses to “An Oil Change and a Conversation About Debt”

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  1. Good post Travis. I have had these encounters before. I found that when I spoke about my debt, it made me feel a little more empowered to keep going and get it paid off.

    • Travis says:

      So True, Grayson! There’s that saying that you don’t know how well you know something until you try to teach it to someone else. Along those same lines, hearing myself talk about debt, and what we’re doing to better our financial health – I mean physically hearing the words – helps re-affirm that I’m heading in the right direction!

  2. Good post! I love when things like this happen, especially if the person is open to talking. I learned so much going through my debt situation that I love to share what I learned. It can be quite burdensome at times to pay off a massive amount of debt that it’s always a good thing to be able to encourage someone to keep going.

    • Travis says:

      Just being able to talk to someone and know that you’re not alone in this journey helps sooo much. I’d like to think that we boosted each other just a little bit through our conversation. Everyone has a story to share – it is through this sharing of stories (that we do every day in the PF blogosphere) that we support and encourage one another. To do so in person, was very energizing!

  3. That is pretty neat because I doubt he says it to everyone. Hopefully it will stick with him and help him stick with the program. Hopefully he doesn’t have too much debt either but you never know.

    • Travis says:

      Yeah, you never know how much debt he has – regardless of what he said. I used to tell myself my debt was manageable too….when I *only* had $50K worth of debt. From what I’ve heard, FPU is a great program, and I hope he is able to absorb and apply what he learns. 🙂

  4. Wow, it’s like you read my mind — I had a similar conversation with a very close friend recently. There’s a link between things, and it’s magic.

  5. You never know if what you said was the push he needed over the hill to understand why she was making him to these meetings. I believe we meet people for a reason in all facets of life even right here on the web. There is always going to be someone you are helping even if you don’t know it but it may just be the reason they clicked your link, left a message, bumped into you or in this case opened up to you. Sometimes the simple words savings, coupons, discounts, budget, etc help strike a conversation with people I don’t even know. I then learn so much about them like they are aching to tell me a story. If we just listen sometimes we hear more than when we speak. That in itself is the help some people need, even us. #inspirational post mate! Cheers

    • Travis says:

      “If we just listen sometimes we hear more than when we speak. That in itself is the help some people need, even us.” <—- Mr. CBB, I LOVE this quote. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, those are words that I hope to keep in the back of my head at all times!

  6. Jane Savers says:

    When I ignore something that is right for my life but that I am not doing or taking care of something always steps in front of me to remind me what is important and that I need to take care of myself or my money.

    Last week I was grumbling about my failed January spend as little as possible challenge when an article popped up and I was reminded that my money is not about deprivation but that I need to spend more mindfully. Turned my thoughts around to where they should have been headed.

  7. Gina Bean says:

    Great story! Thanks for sharing! Sometimes I think people don’t want to hear about us being on the Dave Ramsey plan, but then again, you never know what affect you might just have on some people. Thanks for sharing.

    • Travis says:

      I think people are generally just uncomfortable talking about not only their own debt….but other people’s as well. Maybe it reminds them that they should be doing something more with their own finances? what do you think?

  8. debtgirl says:

    Yes, I believe in it. I think it is so interesting how things all just seem to connect and meld in daily lives, it weaves our tapestry! 😉

    I hope the kid listens to you and DR.

    • Travis says:

      Me too, debtgirl…….maybe I’ll go back to the same place for my next oil change, and see if he’s working – and ask him how he liked the course. 🙂

  9. That’s awesome you were able to encourage him. It’s funny that when you have a special skill–there will be no shortage of people who need your skill.

    • Travis says:

      Great perspective, Brent! It makes me very happy to think that by sharing my experiences and “Get Of Debt Journey” with people that I may even in the smallest way encourage them to continue along their path. It’s why I’m here, every Monday with a new post. 🙂

  10. Cait says:

    I like to think that when two people have a conversation, one person always remembers it. There is often a moment in every conversation where something becomes meaningful to someone; it can be words, actions, reactions… a look, a smile… anything. One person might not remember a single part of the conversation, while the other person has it memorized. This could be one of those conversations.

    I think it’s really cool that he mentioned the program and you knew what he was talking about. Even if he doesn’t remember your conversation, you will, because personal finance is something you live and breathe now. Being able to share a common interest (or at least a surprise conversation about your own interest) is exciting. I hope he does learn from the program (and thanks his girlfriend for it later!).

    • Travis says:

      I hope he remembers it too, Cait – but even if he didn’t the conversation had a big impact on me too. It made me just a little more comfortable with talking about finances. Because if I can talk about it with the guy changing my oil, how hard should it be to talk about it with people I know and love?

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