My husband and I are self-employed and own a chiropractic office where he is the chiropractor and I am the business manager. To many, working with a spouse would be too difficult, but our individual strengths and weaknesses complement each other and the arrangement has worked well. However a few years ago, we found ourselves with too much debt and not enough cash.
After renting an office for 12 years, we had nothing to show for it and the space was starting to feel a bit cramped. When a building in our town went into foreclosure in 2012, we considered the opportunity to own. Our business was doing well and it seemed like the right time for us to buy.
We crunched the numbers, spoke with our accountant, and after much deliberation and negotiation, we bought the building that summer. We were excited to cross this accomplishment off our bucket list. The building offered so much potential, but needed a lot of work and we set out to renovate our dream office.
Unfortunately things changed rather quickly. The business softened, renovations were more costly than expected, and we were now the owners of two mortgages, our home and our business. What looked like a great idea on paper, was turning out to be very challenging. Within a year after settlement, we found ourselves with a lot of debt, not enough cash flow, and very little set aside for emergencies.
I manage the finances for our business and our family and by August 2013, I felt the weight of the situation. On top of our normal day to day expenses, the new property taxes were due, we had more ownership expenses than we realized, and we had a family to feed.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for everything that month. I had to cut something from our spending and do it quickly. We had our daughters later in life and at a crucial time in our lives, I stopped our retirement contribution.
My husband and I have always felt financially responsible. We paid our bills on time, never carried credit card debt from month to month, but in that moment we could not pay our bills.
As much as I wanted to be a property owner, the extra debt was beginning to suffocate us. Selling the property and going back to renting wasn’t the way I wanted to handle the situation, so I sat down and created a step-by-step plan. I poured over both our business and our home expenses, created a line item budget, and a made a plan for every dollar that was coming in.
I designed our Debt Freedom Plan, but it essentially was our life plan.
Sitting down with my husband to discuss our situation was one of the hardest conversations I have ever had in our marriage, but I felt so much relief getting it off my chest. I had put all of that pressure on myself when I really needed a partner.
My husband and I had children later in life. When my own parents were the age that I am now, I was graduating from college.
My children, however, are 9 & 7 and have just finished the third & first grades.
When my parents were my age, they were empty-nesters and converted my bedroom into a sewing room for my mother.
Today, my husband and I can’t park a car in our garage because it is filled with 5 bikes, 2 scooters, 2 wagons, and a big wheel.
At my age, my parents had 20 years of kid-free living ahead of them to focus on their own career goals and to save for their retirement.
My husband and I will be 68 & 60, respectively, when our youngest daughter graduates from college, leaving us with little time free from child-rearing costs to save for retirement.
I want to live a long healthy life with my daughters and at times, the magnitude of what we need to accomplish financially is overwhelming. We must start saving for retirement again, we need to start college saving accounts, and it would be nice to take the kids to Disney while they’re still princess fans.
Creating our “life plan” was the most important thing I could do for my family’s future. It put us in control of our finances and eventually we will be able to save more, give more, assist with our daughters’ education, and hopefully have a little left over to travel some day.
We have a long way to go before we accomplish our goals and reach debt freedom, but my husband and I are starting to see momentum and progress. Our business is again thriving. We are communicating regularly. We are in control of our cash flow. We paid off our first renovation loan in December 2014 and the next loan should be paid off by the end of this summer.
At a critical time in my family’s life, I was inspired to create an action plan to ensure our financial well-being. We are on a path that will not always be easy, but the rewards will be awesome.
Share how you were inspired to be who you are today, and join the growing community of @PrudentialBYC #womeninspired