Taking off the yoke
I want to start from the beginning, so let me go back in time a bit to 2014.
2014 - The Bad Old Days
My wife and I had been married for nine years at this point. We had a deeply loving relationship and a beautiful boy, so in the most important respects, we were doing really well. But in one respect, we weren’t doing well at all.
And yes, of course, that respect was money.
Our joint income had gone up over the years and was probably a decent £65k or so before tax. But we were drowning in the consequences of having consistently spent about 10% more than we earned for almost every year of our marriage.
A big chunk of our income was going on debt payments every month, and a lot of that was interest. We were both about 40 years old, didn’t own our own home and had no real material assets other than a 15-year-old Nissan hatchback that was showing its age.
What was going wrong? Well, there was a spending problem, obviously. But there was also a communication problem. I was the money person in the family. I knew exactly what was happening to us and what the consequences were. But I wasn’t brave enough to confront my wife with it.
Whenever we started talking about our money situation seriously, she’d get really upset. I’d start thinking to myself, ‘Oh god—are we going to start fighting about money and then end up getting divorced? I know it’s happened to so many couples…’ Eventually I’d just chicken out and tell my wife that I’d fix it.
Each time, I ‘fixed’ it by getting a new debt-consolidation loan, applying for a new credit-card, etc. We sank deeper and deeper into the red.
Over time, I started to develop a fear of the post. I’d leave letters from banks or the HMRC for months without looking at them. Years sometimes.
You know those stories of people who let a £100 late-filing fine spiral into £1500 through late-payment penalties? Yeah, that was me.
I watched, helplessly it seemed, as more and more of our income came under the control of the banks and our dream of owning our own home slipped further and further away.
To be continued...