Debt and Finances: A challenging conversation to have, but the most important!

What are the topics you’re told never to speak of as a child? Politics, sex and money? Politics? No problem, I was drawn toward a person who shared similar views to myself, so that was great! Sex? Well, in today’s age, this isn’t such a challenging topic to cover. But money? That is a dirty secret that almost no one wants to talk about.

It was January 2019; I knew that Gean and I were going to last. The conversation about living together was going to happen any day… but in conjunction with that, we needed to talk finances and how we would structure that moving forward in one household. Moving in together also meant the dreaded conversation about debt…. mostly my debt of almost $60,000 CDN. Even though I had been lucky enough to purchase a house in Toronto to add to my assets, there was still this large amount sitting on my line of credit.

The day came, I was going to have to lay it all out for Gean, the good, the bad and the ugly. As we sat at the dining room table to have our conversation about finances, I was terrified; what would he say? Would he be upset? Would he get up and walk out? After all, he hadn’t dug this hole, but after taking a deep breath, I pulled up my on-line banking… and there is it was, a whopping $60,000 in consumer debt.

Gean never flinched. His response to my dark secret was, “No problem, Amor, we will fix it!” and we did.
Our plan was pretty simple:

  • Consolidate all of our high-interest credit card debt onto each one of our lines of credit
  • Concentrate on paying down the highest interest line of credit
  • Use nothing but credit cards to track everything we spend, then analyze what could be cut or trimmed from our spending to pay off more debt (but pay the balance in full each month)

Also, by eliminating the double payments of bills such as rent, cable, and hydro from having two households, we could quickly pay off the debt. We used one of our incomes to live off and the second to pay off the debt. There was not a lot of eating out, or entertainment (some yes, but not to the extent there had been!)

It took almost a year to the day of our conversation, but by the end of January 2020, we had paid off the consumer debt! That immense weight seemed to disappear from my chest, and I felt as though I could finally breathe, that there was a future without debt for Gean and me.

It was right around the same time that Gean had begun talking about the concept of F.I.R.E., I had no clue what he was talking about, but the more we both read and learned, the more determined we were that this was for us! We set our F.I.R.E. date as November 2028; this is the year I turn 50 and can retire from my current job and begin collecting a regular pension (reduced though it will be).

Having learned to live within our means, regularly saving where we can, and funnelling all the money previously spent on debt re-payment into our investments, I am hoping that F.I.R.E. for us will begin WAY before November 2028!

Have any of you had to have the tough talk with your partner about debt and finances? How have you all managed to pay off your debt? If you are interested in any of the ways we cut costs, or need help chatting with your significant other, please let us know, we are always here to help. And if you have any new ways to help us save money, please feel free to share in the comments below!