When you’ve been married for almost ten years and have 2 children under the age of 8 your definition of fun and adventure changes a little.
For instance, before kids, when you have a free Saturday you may go to Six Flags or on a road trip out of town. You may spend money on new clothes or a new big screen TV or concert tickets.
But now, a Saturday sans kids is so rare you don’t really know what to do with yourself.
This happened to us this past weekend. We didn’t have anywhere to go. Nothing to do. And if we’ve learned one thing over the past decade about money it’s that we like having some in our bank account more than we like having some new stuff. So we tend to find free things to do when we’re together as a family.
As someone involved in the real estate market this typically means we go look at a lot of houses, that we’ll probably never buy. We definitely did that on Saturday and saw some gorgeous homes.
There’s this new store here in DFW that just opened up called Nebraska Furniture Mart. It’s almost an hour from our house and somewhere we’d never just stop in without a purpose, but we were in the area so decided to take a tour. And ya’ll. This place is pretty awesome. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you know that we don’t spend much money on furniture and our house is still decorated very nicely.
But this store was huge and had every bit of furniture, electronics, appliances, and outdoor kitchen stuff that you can imagine. The prices seemed to be really quite fair and while the store was huge, everything seemed to operate very well. When we’re actually in the market for some new furniture, this place is high on my list.
As we wandered through the store we came across a section of the store with a big sign overhead reading, “FINANCE CENTER.”
I had flashbacks to being broke.
I saw women standing near the counter nervously biting their nails as their husbands filled out credit applications. I saw a husband and wife filling out separate credit applications in case one was denied the other might be approved. I saw a woman visibly upset that her application had been denied. I saw a man stand passively by while his wife talked to a sales person about increasing their credit limit.
There was a line at this counter.
It didn’t matter if you had an 800 credit score or a 400 credit score, these people were standing in line to ask someone else to give them money to by a sofa, or a bed, or an entertainment center. It didn’t matter the credit score, wives were still nervous if they’d be allowed to take home a china cabinet or that new dining room set. It didn’t matter the credit score as families filled out paperwork to find out if they could buy a home theater system.
I can remember filling out a credit application when I had decent credit and I’d have an ache in my stomach. I knew qualifying wasn’t the issue, I just wanted to make sure the interest rate wasn’t going to be too high and wanted to make sure we qualified for enough to cover the purchase amount of whatever it was we were trying to buy. As our credit scores dropped because we had borrowed too much money, even though we were making all of the payments on time, I became more worried about qualifying at all than I was about the interest rate.
Ultimately for us, banks decided to stop lending us money as we went through our financial collapse. It was the best and most freeing thing for us. I don’t wish this on you or anyone else. I hope you’ll learn this lesson without needing to fight off bankruptcy, foreclosure, lawsuits, and repossession like we did.
You don’t need a bank to tell you if you can afford to buy something.
You need money.
If you want a new couch, save up some money, and go buy a new couch. If you want a new TV, save up, and go buy a new TV. You don’t need to stand in a line to fill out a credit application. You don’t need to have that nervous feeling in your stomach as you try to buy something. You won’t have a disappointed spouse when you talk about buying furniture, walk into the furniture store, and walk out actually purchasing the furniture.
Your relationships will be stronger. You’ll sleep better at night. Your bank accounts will be larger. And you’ll enjoy your purchases more. Stop borrowing money. Stop being a slave to debt. Stop filling out applications. Start being free.