Because we failed to budget our money.
We'd fritter it away on fast food and other nonessentials. Oh, and on those pesky overdraft fees. I admit it, in the beginning of our relationship, over the course of those two years (and a bit beyond, truth be known) we probably paid the bank a couple of THOUSAND dollars worth of overdraft fees.
Makes my heart squeeze a bit harder just remembering the Stupid Tax (a la Dave Ramsey--more about him in a moment) we had to pay the banks over and over again.
We got married on April 30th and moved about eight months later to pursue a new career for my husband. Since he has no degrees or certificates, he started out on the bottom rung of the IT department and was paid accordingly. He has since been promoted to Senior IT Tech of the entire company (only has one boss above him, other than the owner of the company) and managed to keep his job amongst slews of layoffs back in 2008. He still has no degrees or certificates, so... he's still getting paid far less than those in his field of work who DO have those pieces of paper.
I stay at home and raise our four children while he brings home the bacon. Being a Single Bacon Home has presented its challenges, and but by the grace of God have we managed to stay afloat at times.
Grace of God.. and budgeting.
Back in the day, we had a $500 limit credit card associated with our bank. And always carried a balance. Then we heard about The Total Money Makeover with Dave Ramsey. We'd heard him on the radio and our church had offered his classes throughout the years of our attendance.
His plan is very simple: write down a budget, and don't live beyond your means. Get rid of your credit cards and pay cash for everything. I know, crazy, right?? Oh, and you need to get debt free. Best way to get debt free is to write down all your debts, smallest to biggest, and work at paying them off. I don't know that I can go into all the details without infringing on some copy right law or other, but I would highly recommend his book if you have a lot of debt to pay off.
As of December of last year, we are officially debt free. We own our house (even if it IS a double wide mobile home with lot rent), our family van and the motorcycle we need to fix up to sale. We've got our Emergency Fund in place and are sitting pretty. Do we get to buy everything our little hearts desire? Nope.
But we can budget for it.
I sat down a couple of weeks ago to write out the budget for the year. Seeing where all the money is going and planning accordingly allows us to know when we can go visit family (despite the rising gas prices!), when we can get clothes for ourselves and the children and when we can afford to purchase more homeschooling materials.
Write it down! If you want that gorgeous dress you see hanging in the display case, but you don't have the money? Budget it in. Save for it. If it isn't there by the time you have enough saved, then it wasn't meant for you to have it anyhow. Learn to tell yourself "No. Not yet." and don't give in to the advertisers' ploy of "Buy now, pay later!"
Trust me, the peace of mind you have when you don't owe anything for that dress will make it look that much better on you.