My fetal position moment came when I put all my debt into a non-threatening spreadsheet. Actually a team at USAA’s Financial Services did the actual task, I just provided all the bad news.
Drum roll please … if you read my first blog post last month you know I have Huge and Embarrassing Debt! What I thought was $60,000 in credit card debt is actually $85,000.
Really??? I looked at that number and thought: That can’t be right! How on earth could this happen? I don’t even have a Coach handbag or a new car. How in the world will I get out of this?
I wanted to curl into a fetal position.
The tears flowed. I lowered my head in shame. I felt a little like the contestants on that show the Biggest Loser. I was standing there half naked feeling like everyone looked at my number. I felt like everyone was watching me, judging me and I felt like such a fraud.
Debt is this big secret I carry every day. It is with me at work. It drives home with me. I bring it with me to my son’s football practice and I feel it on my chest when I fall asleep at night.
It has been 16 years since I walked down the aisle into this life as a military spouse. As a spouse I have earned a college degree, lived overseas, had two children, carved out a career, endured numerous combat deployments, and buried my father.
Debt seems too big to handle.
But this, this debt seems too big for me to handle. This feels totally overwhelming. Now I am faced with the reality of the total number and the reality that this is not going to be over quickly. Wow, we are talking years!
The financial counselors at USAA told me that first I had to come clean with everything we owe. Then I needed to put everything we earn and spend down on paper. (Read more of what USAA guys said about the big number here.)
I also had to keep track of my spending. All the little things do add up, so for the first time I am keeping a spending journal to dig deep and see where I can cut expenses.
I am just a few weeks into this process but I think the scary part is over because I have really come clean. But now the hard work begins.
Tracey’s Huge and Embarrassing Debt is a new series starting on SpouseBuzz. Tracey is a military wife who attended one of our live Military.com Spouse Experience events and was inspired to make a life change. As she and her family work with USAA’s Scott Halliwell and JJ Montannaro, they will all be blogging about how military families really can get out of debt — one tiny change at a time.