Back in 2008, when I bought a car and financed it, my current husband (boyfriend back then) was shocked to see I was willing to get in debt for a car. While I was very optimistic about being able to pay it (even if it was a pretty big chunk of my paycheck), he was horrified that something could go wrong. I was working on my small web design business as well, so I didn’t have just my wage to count on. And nothing could go wrong. Right?
14 months into my 4 year car contract the radio station closes down and we’re all left unemployed. There were already rumors for half an year and a huge red light was having our executive fired. He was replaced by a colleague who didn’t have too much in common with leadership or anything similar.
I was annoying with her every day, but couldn’t afford losing my job, since I had debt for 3 more years. So I just stayed there and went through all the crap, since my options were limited. When the radio closed down, I felt a bit of relief, knowing I don’t have to deal with this, but I was also scared because I had almost no income to count on (the design business was barely working – I never focused on it properly).
By the end of 2009 I was in dire straits. Was working a lot to earn some money for my now full time freelancing career and had absolutely no perspectives or goals: I was just trying to pay off my car and see what else life brings me.
That autumn my husband’s friend from NYC came to visit us. He invited us both to his home there, something that seemed absolutely impossible to fathom: we needed a tourist visa (and they are not given out like candy in Romania, if I may say) and also a lot of money. Let’s say our tickets there would be at least 1500 bucks, which is HUGE in a country where most of the population earns probably 400 bucks/month (and these are already good wages).
I just said that it’s gonna be impossible until I pay off my debt and didn’t bother with the thought.
My husband is on the stubborn side though and he took it step by step: What do we need? Visas, money, tickets.
Believe it or not, we did get the visa in January 2010. I still cannot imagine what luck struck us, but it did. Both of us had 10 year tourist visas. My husband sold some of his prized coins to fund our trip, I was working like crazy to earn more money to cover some of our costs and also make my big monthly payments.
We got our tickets and spent 6 AMAZING MONTHS with them from March till September. And we did it again in 2011 and 2012. I had to sell 3 of my sites in 2011 to afford tickets and some of the costs, but it was OK. Then my business really picked up and 2012 meant having my car paid off entirely and a good income.
Being in debt for me meant having my wings cut. I had to deal with a crappy boss, since I wouldn’t dream of telling her to shove it and move on. No, I had payments to make each month and absolutely no other chance to make it work. I was willing to forgo the BIGGEST of my lifetime opportunities (spend 18 months in one of the most amazing cities in the world), just because I was sure we couldn’t make it.
Fortunately my husband was stubborn enough and had some good coins to sell for our dream to come true. Being there meant I was able to learn a lot from our friends (they are amazing people and also parents), my business grew exponentially and I got the chance to visit New York, which is absolutely tremendous.
This is the reason why I wouldn’t be willing to get back into debt too soon anymore. It’s not all about the money, even if, knowing I owe money wouldn’t help me sleep too tight, but I would probably lack the COURAGE to go live my dreams. Now, if we want to leave the country to go live who knows where, I’d do it in a heartbeat and have no fear about it.
There are no words to say how much we thank our amazing friends for their generosity and kindness. We were family to them and this experience helped us bond together better and also taught us a lot about parenting and relationships. When our friend told us to come and visit, I was just thinking he’s smoking something good: we were both unemployed (husband left his job that autumn, too), little money in our accounts and I was in huge debt.
Yet, we were LUCKY. This is what I always say when it comes to my freelancing success story or anything like this: I was lucky to be able to establish my small business this fast, to make good use of all the years I was so passionate about web design (since 2002), even if it was just a hobby, lucky to have an amazing family (my folks paid my day-to-day expenses and put food on the table for me) and to find some terrific clients who have taught me a lot about running a business and about being a good human being after all.
What about you? What’s the biggest set back for you when it comes to debt? Do you fear that you let good opportunities slide by just because you need to focus on paying you debt? Do you dislike the idea of having to give money to the bank each month? The uncertainty that tomorrow you might be jobless just like I was in 2009?