The Worst Day of my Entire Life

You may love it and you may hate it but I wanted to share my submission to the Turkey Talks Writing Contest hosted by Impulse Save. We were supposed to tell our financial story and since I’ve told my story a gazillion times I thought it would be more interesting if I shook things up a bit. I would LOVE to hear what you think so please leave a comment below. 😀

As I sat on the park bench watching other families laugh and play, I couldn’t help but feel resentment. That was supposed to be me and my family, but recent events would clearly make that impossible. How could my wife do this to me?

What did she do? Only the worst thing a wife could do to her passionate husband dedicated to ridding the world of debt that’s all. I checked the mail and found out that my wife racked up almost $2,000 on a credit card she had been hiding from me for over a year.

Imagine the look on my face – THE Enemy of Debt – as I peeled open the envelope to reveal such news.

We’ve been through so much together financially and I thought we were on the same team.

It was only four years ago that we pledged to eradicate our debt together once and for all. At that time we were like everyone else — broke, living paycheck to paycheck, and seriously on edge about our finances.

Where do I start? We got married in 2004 and got the deal of a lifetime on our first home. Then we ruined it all by turning around and refinancing it adding an additional $30,000 onto our mortgage. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we consolidated all of our maxed out credit cards and lines of credit into the refinance giving us the “sweet opportunity” to pay on those loans for 30 years. (Note my sarcasm)

On top of that we had a car payment, an addiction to spending, and a proclivity to buy anything we wanted on impulse whether we needed it or not. We had no budget, no communication, and no emergency fund to speak of.

We argued and pointed fingers but it didn’t stop us from burying ourselves in about $26,000 of debt.

Then at the end of 2007 we took the plunge. We decided (together) that we were going to start our Total Money Makeover as our 2008 New Year’s resolution. We sacrificed and eliminated so much; sold things we forgot we had and got rid of our car payment. I even sold my beloved Xbox 360 and for the first time ever we had an emergency fund of $2,000 that wasn’t earmarked for the pizza man.

We were on a roll and our road to freedom was rocketing full steam ahead. 20 months after starting our resolution to eliminate our debt it happened – we were debt free!! The journey was tough but it was totally worth it. We learned so much, or so I thought.

Looking back though, I can see all of the red flags and clues staring me right in the face. I feel like such a turkey! How could I be so naïve? All I could think about was where I went wrong. Could I have done something differently? Was I too hardcore about our finances?

That night I slept on the couch in a fetal position and tried to hold back the tears. Then I heard her voice, hopefully ready to apologize for her crimes of mass destruction.

“Brad! Brad! Are you okay? Brad!”

As I opened my eyes I realized something. The worst moment of my life suddenly became the best. As I wiped the sleep from my eyes it hit me. I had just had a nightmare.

Whew!

I hugged my wife so tight and said “I love you!” She had a puzzled look on her face as she wondered what was going on. I explained everything and she struggled to keep from rolling on the floor.

I have a lot to be thankful for and one of them is having a wife who supports and is dedicated to staying debt free. After all we’ve been through it’s absolutely awesome to know we’re still walking hand-in-hand towards our financial dreams.

In case you’re wondering, I actually had this dream and man did it SUCK! It was so vivid and I just knew it was real!

My wife is still an ENEMY OF DEBT! Life is good!

This post was originally published here.
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21 Responses to “The Worst Day of my Entire Life”

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  1. That must have been a freakin’ nightmare for you…..but it’s such a great story! You and I are lucky men to have wives that are Enemies of Debt. Vonnie and I have had some great discussions about finances and budgeting this week. We are getting stronger every day….I love where we are headed!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I seriously woke up angry dude. LOL In a up-and-alert state of mind I know without any doubt at all that my wife would never do this but the kind of dreams — like this one — that feel so very real, it’s hard to deal with the thought. I’m so glad I woke up! 🙂

  2. Deb says:

    When I started reading this, all I could think was “Gosh, his wife must be really embarrassed that he’s sharing this story with the world.” 🙂 So glad it wasn’t real! I actually know people for whom that nightmare was a reality (you probably do, too). What a blessing it is to have both husband and wife on the same page about becoming debt free.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Hi Deb, yeah I knew that was one of the risks I was taking when I wrote this. I wonder how many people stopped reading it as soon as they realized what it was about but before they got to the truth at the bottom. Haha! I just couldn’t help but see the irony in such an event had it been real since my site is called the Enemy of Debt. I’ve only had one person tell me he didn’t like being tricked but did think it was a good article.

      Being such a hardcore debt free advocate I started off wrong as far as my wife goes with my one-sided we’re doing this like it or not approach. I did learn my lesson and my wife soon jumped on board and became excited about the debt we were knocking out. We became debt free in 2009 and because of both of us being on the same team our marriage has improved during the process.

      I know there are real people out there however that deal with this sort of nightmare in real life. I really feel for them because I can’t imagine wanting something so badly and having your spouse sabotage the outcome. This was fun to write but I kind of feel I should write something to address this very real problem.

  3. Jeffrey says:

    That does sound like a nightmare but I’m glad that’s all it was. Good to hear you guys are still the #1 enemies of debt!

  4. J.P. says:

    Glad your “Nightmare before Christmas” was just a bit of indigestion while asleep! Unfortunately, I know a couple who went through a similar scenario earlier this year: They were both knee-deep-in-the-dead with debt….mortgage on a house, 2 car loans with 3 years left each, both had student loans, 3 kids, and had racked up $20000 of credit card debt between them. The final straw was when he found a credit card bill with a $2000 balance on it that she had taken out in his name, but didn’t tell him about it. It about ended their marriage. Fortunately, they went to marriage counseling for their trust issues, and asked me for help with setting up a budget for them. Put them on the Ramsey Plan for minimizing their expenses and paying off their debts. Fortunately for them, the counseling seems to be working, and they just paid off one of their credit cards, so barring any unforseen events, all other credit cards should be paid off in three years, same time as they finish paying off their auto loans, also the same time all their kids will enter school, saving on child care.

    Just goes to show that financial infidelity can be just as damaging as sexual infidelity.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Nightmare before Christmas is right…LOL! Yeah this article was fun to write but situations like this are a reality for so many people. It makes me want to write something to address it but really all I can think of to write is something that would turn into a rant for the selfish people out there that do this sort of thing to their spouses. It’s really sad! I could never ever EVER do this to my wife even if I wasn’t the enemy of debt. I just wouldn’t feel right hiding something from her that would affect her down the road especially something as big as debt.

      It’s so good to hear that the couple you know was able to turn things around. That is so awesome!! It’s also awesome that you were there to help them without judging them so they could take the steps they needed to move forward! Thanks for leaving such a great comment J.P.! 😀

  5. Dave Hilton says:

    Brad,

    That wasn’t a dream…it was a glimpse into your life in an alternate reality. Since there are an infinite number of realities in the multiverse, it’s plausible that another you is dealing with that issue. I’ve noticed, in my experience anyway, these types of vivid dreams (the ones that seem like they’re occurring in real-time) are almost always highly emotional. It’s only a working theory of mine…but you never know…

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Oh man you’ve got me wanting to turn some Netflix on to watch some Dr. Who episodes! Love that stuff!

      I surely feel sorry for the Brad in the alternative reality though I’m guessing that he isn’t the Enemy of Debt where he is. Haha!

      Great comment Dave thanks for stopping by! 😀

  6. serena says:

    I think J.P. hit the mail on the head: it is financial infidelity. Glad it was only a nightmare! 🙂

  7. Glad it was a dream! You had me going! I’m looking forward to reading this same type of success on EOF!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Me too Adam! LOL I just started writing again over at Enemy of Fat and am actually excited to start a 30 day challenge a friend of mine started. I also will be adding to the challenge by implementing other things to help me create the habits I need. Success will be mine but holy crap it’s much harder for me than getting out of debt. Haha! I’m gonna win though! 😀

  8. To funny. I did not see the story taking the turn it did. It’s funny how we have dreams like that of our greatest fears.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      LOL Isn’t that the truth. Surprisingly enough though this is the very first nightmare I’ve had about money where my wife did something like this. My wife got a good laugh out of it though! 😀

  9. Wow, that is SUCH a vivid story! I’m so glad it was ONLY a nightmare and not real life!!

  10. Brad,
    When I started reading this one, I was like WHAAAAT? Nice turnaround at the end! You really had me going. Keep killing it man! The blog redesign is looking awesome. Talk soon, bud.

    -Kyle

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Haha! I was hoping it would have a movie twist feel to it but I wasn’t sure if it would upset people to be honest. What worried me was that people would be like “He’s actually posting this about his wife. I wonder if she knows!” thinking I’m some kind of a jerk or something before getting to the part where I reveal the truth. It was a risk but I enjoyed writing it. As soon as I had the dream I knew I had to turn it into a post. LOL

      I still have SO MUCH to do on the site design, mostly completing the homepage content (getting started, sticking to a plan etc). 😀

  11. Serena says:

    Interesting……the Today show is talking about “financial infidelity” right now as I type this. Made me think of our discussion here! Money Mag shows that 71% Americans keep money secrets from their spouse. The define financial infidelity as lying about money, and keeping secrets about what things cost, what you’ve spent, etc. They say they do it to keep the peace; they don’t want scorning looks from their spouse. They also report that 44% of married couples believe keeping secrets about money is acceptable under certain circumstances (which circumstances, I don’t know). And they report that 40% of spouses report spending LESS than they actually do.

    The financial experts recommend having a pool of money that each can do what they want with.

    Three bank accounts is recommended–one for the house, one for me, one for you.

    They’re talking about more. Maybe it will be available on their website late today?

    I know that hubby and I have separate accounts. We don’t even have a joint account. He gives me his half of the mortgage, and picks up the $1,500 daycare bill. I pay for my half of the mortgage, and then everything else–food, utilities, clothes for the kids, etc. And we each spend our money on whatever we want. The thing is that we are pretty similar in our spending habits, with is (for the most part) responsible and thoughtful about what we spend money on.

    Just wanted to share! 🙂

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