Our Journey So Far
My husband and I managed to get by without any debt for about the first 4 years we were together. After that it all started to go downhill.
The debt spiral started when we moved from our original town to our current city. My husband was laid off from his construction job (it was winter) and he was offered his current job at a motorcycle dealership. We actually turned the job offer down at first because the job was three hours away from where we lived at the time but after a few weeks we reconsidered and decided to just go for it. The problem was that the new job was slightly lower paying than his old job and our rent would more than double. Further adding to our problem was the fact that it took me a couple of months to find a job at the new location and even then, it wasn't as well paying as my old one.
We were engaged at the time and about half a year away from the wedding we were planning to have in our old time. This meant we had to do a lot of driving back and forth during the first several months that we lived in our new city. We were going 'home' once a week on my husband's day off for a total of 6 hours of driving.
It took us quite some time to start to find new friends in our new locale. For recreation, we enjoyed aspects of city living that we weren't afforded while living in town. We shopped, we ate out in restaurants, we went to movies.. It was a lot of fun. It was also expensive.
Between the rent increase, the long drives, the more expensive car insurance, the wedding and our expensive new city living habits, we incurred a bit of debt. So, we decided to buy a house. Not just any house though; we bought a 100 year old house that needed a lot of renovations to make it even remotely inhabitable.
I'd estimate that about 3 years after we moved to our current city, we were about $35,000 in debt. This included some credit card debt, a car loan, a line of credit and a small personal loan. Somewhere in there, we slowly wised up and decided this was not the life we wanted to live and we were going to have to do something about it.
We stopped eating out. We stopped buying stuff to renovate and actually started renovating. We didn't go to movies. We didn't go out for drinks. We just started paying things off one debt at a time.
After a couple of years of our new, much less expensive lifestyle, once we had paid off a good chunk of debt I looked into the ManulifeOne account (similar to a HELOC). I hesitated for awhile because it almost seemed like cheating to roll our remaining debts onto our house. In our case however, it made some sense since a good chunk of the debt we had incurred had gone straight into raising the value of our home.
We went ahead with the ManulifeOne account and rolled our remaining credit card debt and a small car loan into our 'mortgage'. We now owe on our house approximately what we paid for it but it has gone up about $50,000 in value since we've lived here. The two main floors of our home are renovated and our home is very comfortable now. We still owe $6000 for the personal loan and once that's gone we'll just be focusing on lowering the amount we owe on our M1 account.
It's been crazy and hard but we're finally in a place that we're proud to be in. Our future doesn't seem so bleak and the M1 account has given us so many opportunities as we're our own bankers now.