Financial Problems – It's a Slow Fade

By glblguy

A slow fade
Picture by roujo

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

You just read the chorus to a song on Casting Crown’s latest CD named Slow Fade. The song basically states that people don’t go bad or get into trouble or compromise their values all at once, but that it’s really more of a gradual process. A slow fade as the song is named. You can read the full lyrics on Christian-Lyrics.net.

While listening to this song in the car the other day, I began to reflect back on my life and to areas where I experienced a slow fade. One of the biggest is with my personal finances and in particular with credit cards and debt.

My Slow Fade

When I was about 18 or so, my car needed a new set of tires. I had the cash to buy them (just barely) but I wanted to begin establishing some credit. I visited the credit union and applied for a Visa card. A week or so later, I received a shiny new Visa card in the mail and along with it, a $500.00 credit limit. I used the card to pay for my tires, and paid off the balance in full. Great right? Yes…so far.

The fade began when I carried that card with me and used it to make purchases and didn’t pay off the balance in full. Not to mention, the credit union tempted me even further by gradually increasing the credit limit giving me even more money to spend that I didn’t have.

My next adventure into credit was purchasing a new car, followed by a a $500.00 car stereo that I didn’t need. No down payment, no cash, pure financing. From there it just continued the slow fade. A few more credit cards with higher credit limits on each. The overall debt amount, growing and growing. As a result, when my wife and I got married, she brought zero debt to the marriage and I brought a lot.

We rented for a year, all the while continuing to pay minimums on the cards and continuing to use them. Our next big purchase was a house. We bought a cheap starter home with a 5% down payment. The only good decision we made here was getting a 30 year fixed rate loan.

Of course with a new home comes tons of unexpected and unplanned expenses, such as furniture, window coverings, towel racks, tools, etc. Most of this went on the credit cards, always with the intention of paying the expenses back within the same month.

Over the next 10 years, we had children, up sized to a larger and more expensive home. The credit card debt continued to follow us, a dark cloud that we honestly just thought was a normal part of life. We pulled our 401k savings out to pay off our credit cards, thinking that was a good move, only to turn around and run the cards up again. On what you ask? To tell you the truth, I can’t even remember. A little something here, a big something there.

Anyway, you get the picture. Our path to financial problems started with a $500.00 credit card when I was 18 and snowballed into a sizable chunk of debt across more than four credit cards, a camper, two new cars and a mortgage. Fortunately, a little more than a year ago, we realized our mistakes and decided to change our financial future.

Thinking back through all of this, it was definitely a slow fade and the essence of the song: thoughts of material items invaded, poor choices were paid, and now a price is being paid.

Avoiding a Slow Fade

Be completely aware of the impact and potential impact of every financial decision you make. The fade starts with a small decision, followed by another and another until one day you realize you have a mess on your hands. Research your decisions before you make them. Read blogs, financial sites, and talk to friends and family about the decision before you make it.

Don’t think that once you’ve made a mistake or poor financial decision that it’s too late. While you may not be able to fix the mistake you made, you can begin making an effort to reverse it and avoid making further mistakes that will just make things even worse.

Listen to your inner self. Throughout my entire slow fade, I knew deep down inside that what I was doing was stupid. I continued by justifying it to myself by looking at others, convincing myself that I really needed it, and assuming that next month my income will be even better. If you even hesitate on a decision regarding your finances, that’s a key sign you may not be making the right decision. Make sure you face the real problem that is causing you financial difficulty, you.

*****

While the message here is financially focused, the slow fade is a valuable life lesson for many seemingly harmless decisions that we make. I would suspect the men and women on death row weren’t born murderers nor did they just become them overnight. The husband who cheated on his wife didn’t decide to make that life changing decision the first time he saw that new lady up the hall at work, it happed over time.

Oh be careful little eyes what you see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see


18 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Financial Problems – It's a Slow Fade”

  1. plonkee Says:

    I’m so glad that you decided to turn your finances around. And you should be glad that you realised a year ago, that’s 365 days better than realising this morning.

  2. Lauren Says:

    This is a cool post because so often people have that “overnight” wake-up call with their finances where they wonder how did I get into this mess all of the sudden and don’t see the steps that it took to get them there. If it took you years to get into debt and financial strain don’t expect it to take a month or two to climb back out of.

  3. justin Says:

    Ah, it can be tempting to not look at credit spending as real money. But that threat of interest is something that makes me stay away from carrying a balance. Ick.

  4. Lynnae @ Being Frugal Says:

    I was reading this in my feed reader, saw the title, and thought CASTING CROWNS! :) Great song!

    This is a great post and a great reminder that with a few bad choices, anyone can start down the slippery slope into financial problems. Substitute clothes for cars and take off the mortgage, and you’ve told my story.

  5. Mrs. Micah Says:

    I especially like the point that it’s never too late. Quite comforting and encouraging. Even if I just made a financial mistake, I can turn it around.

  6. Roshawn Watson Says:

    I do agree that so often we have the revelation that we want to change and are completely shocked that meaningful change requires a significant time investment.

  7. glblguy Says:

    @plonkee – you are so right. Climbing out of the hole is far better than continuing to dig.

    @Lauren – Hey! Glad to see you back in the blogging world! Good point on how long it can take. People spend years getting into debt, and then go out to google and search for “Get out of debt instantly”. Too bad there are tons of companies just waiting to sign them up only to put them more in debt.

    @justin – You are a wise man. Everyone carrying a balance should read justin’s comment over and over again.

    @Lynnae – I knew when I wrote the title you would catch it. It really is a great song. Did you listen to Mark Schultz??

    @Mrs. Micah – Thank you. You can always turn around…it’s a shame that people think they don’t have choices.

    @Roshawn – Very well written and oh so true. Great comment.

  8. Randall Says:

    That’s why credit is sooo addictive, it sneaks up on you, and the first (few) hits are free.

    Next thing you know you’re paying more in interest than you originally spent on the items, and you’ve got a decade or more to work yourself completely out. Assuming something ELSE doesn’t come up to thwart your plans.

  9. glblguy Says:

    Randall – Exactly…it’s compound interest used against you. Good point if something else coming up, and it always does.

  10. Lauren Says:

    @glblguy – Thanks its great to be back, finally.

  11. fathersez Says:

    A very valid and truthful post.

    Sinking into the pits is usually a slow gradual process, though often, unexpected events like a business failure, divorce etc., may instantly get us to the “Start and do not collect $200″ square.

    I,too, have just realised that I have been sliding backwards. It will take some time to work my way out. But I am grateful to have had this revelation. Like Plonkee said, always better late than never.

  12. glblguy Says:

    Hi fathersez, thank you for visiting! I agree, it does take time, but I am confident it will be worth it!

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