Not all of my “millennial money” goes to avocados, and my credit card debt wasn’t frivolously spent on coffee.
Here’s my story on when life hit me hard, and I had to make a choice.
Man’s Best Friend.
When I was 12 years old, I finally talked my parents into letting me adopt a dog.
We made numerous trips down to the local animal shelter, and I found two dogs that I liked. They were brothers. I scratched their heads, and quickly learned that these two dogs had starkly different personalities. One of them was relaxed and reserved, and the other was energetic.
It didn’t matter, because my parents were informed that was told that both dogs were in the process of being adopted. We called it a day.
The next afternoon, we visited the same animal shelter immediately after school and I was shocked to find out that the mysterious family had only elected to adopt one of the two dogs (the energetic puppy). Lucky for me, the remaining dog was the calm one who I originally fell for.
We signed the papers, and he rode home on my lap.
It took minutes to fall in love, and there was no turning back.
Stages of Life.
Over the next decade, my dog (Robbie) taught me the true meaning of Man’s Best Friend. He was there for all those awkward teenage years of mine, and I was there for all his stages of life. The stories and life lessons that he’s taught me are endless.
Eventually we both grew up, I moved out of my parents house, and Robbie lost his eye sight (and started to lose his hearing, too!).
My mother decided that Robbie was no longer comfortable navigating the stairs in their home, nor was he playing nice with my toddler-aged nephew. Apparently, blind and deaf dogs don’t take well to young children running up on them with no warning. Who knew.
After some discussion, we decided that it was time for Robbie to come live with my husband and I in our one-level home. Our agreement was that my parents would pick up the health bills for Robbie’s diabetes, annual glucose mitigation, and all other vet costs in exchange for us covering his day-to-day expenses, food, and care.
The first days at the house with Robbie took some adjustment as he learned how to find his way around a place he had never physically seen before, but overall it was a smooth transition.
In the beginning of 2016, my other true-love Gizmo (the dog) passed away very suddenly. It hit us hard, and was definitely a massive test to our sanity and emotional stability. Looking back, Gizmo had chronic health issues and was on numerous medications to give him comfort, but his sharp and energetic personality made us believe that he would outlive Robbie, who was much more docile in comparison.
Later that year, I had a conversation with my mother on what she felt was right to do for when Robbie would eventually pass away. This turned out to be one of the smartest decisions I have ever made, because less than two weeks later, I was rushing Robbie to the vet’s office.
Swipe #1…2, 3, etc.
He had barely been eating, was tripping over everything in our house, and stumbling into walls. You could compare his behavior to an extremely drunk person trying to stagger their way around.
Obviously, this behavior was deeply troubling.
The vet determined that he was suffering from kidney failure. She wasn’t ready to give up yet (and neither were we), so we spent the next three weeks monitoring his insulin, giving him fluids, new medicine, a special diet, many other regimens, and went over a few “warning signs” to be diligent about. Robbie’s health faded and bounced back. He wasn’t 100%, but overall he was better.
Until one day, he wasn’t.
That morning, we decided that we needed to take him back to the vet, and I knew. Every bone in my body knew. Today was the day.
While my husband got ready, I laid on our bedroom floor with Robbie. He was so weak that he was barely acknowledging being touched, but I hoped that my warm body against his would give him some solace.
My husband loaded him up in the car and off they went for Robbie to spend the morning at the vet’s office being supervised and tested.
Around 1:00pm that day, I got the call stating that the vet suggests we put Robbie down. They didn’t think he’d get any better, and it was the humane thing to do.
My dog is more important.
During the last three weeks of Robbie’s life, we accumulated numerous vet bills. My parents covered the initial bill that was in excess of $2,000… but I never told them about the subsequent bills and medications that my husband and I paid for. To me, it was just money at that point. My dog was more important.
On August 30, 2017 we will officially be credit card debt free.
I am jumping for joy because this will mark the first time in five solid years that we don’t have a single dollar of credit card debt! The only debts that will be left are our cars (projected payoff: 2018), and the house (projected payoff: 2023).
When I started Man Vs Cash in October of 2016, I owed:
- $5,000 in credit card debt
- $2,000 in student loan debt
- $1,400 in retail credit card debt
I didn’t think I had a clear path to having any of these debts paid off for many years, and was actually just bouncing around with paying minimum payments.
By blogging, and keeping myself accountable to you, these debts went from $8,000+ to $0 in 9 months.
In the last year, I have learned that my formerly non-existent emergency fund would have weathered the unexpected vet bills without causing is to go into thousands of dollars of debt for a full year. Thankfully, I have evolved since then. We have a great emergency fund saved, and have made great strides towards being completely financially secure one day.
Let me be clear in my story. I am not advocating the use of credit cards in place of an emergency fund. When you rely on credit cards, you are agreeing to worsening your financial situation by taking on more debt during a time when you were already in choppy waters. The lender doesn’t owe you a line of credit, and may revoke the credit limit at any time, for any reason, which could turn your situation on its head in an instant.
Some of my spending and debt is easily defined as “questionable” or even “irresponsible”, but taking on this credit card debt for Robbie wasn’t one of those things that I needed to question.
Not all credit card debt is the same.
It’s ignorant for me to believe that my dog’s passing was unexpected. It’s simply the circle of life. Instead of saving money so I was prepared to deal with it, I got the pleasure of paying my credit union interest on $5,000 of credit card debt.
I would easily swipe my credit card for my dog if she needed care, but this time around… I can write a check.
Even after death, my dog is teaching me lessons about life.
Robbie, the sweet boy.
June 1, 2003 – June 27, 2016