Happy New Year friends, from Italia!
This was my first New Years in Italy and I was so excited to continue our holiday vacation once again in Venice. My husband and I had researched the festivities that went on throughout the night, the fireworks to scare away evil spirits, the old clothes and furniture that was dropped out of windows to make room for new things, and of course the romantic group kiss at midnight in San Marco Square. However instead of finding ourselves bundled up under the city of love’s moonlight, we were on the couch, individually wrapped in our Snuggies, watching Lost and popping Sudafed. That’s right – we were sick on New Years. We did get to see a few fireworks that went off throughout our town and I have to say – I did wear red undies which apparently brings good luck. We may have also had a glass or two of champagne (after we felt the Sudafed wearing off, of course). All in all our New Years was nothing compared to our anniversary in Verona or our Christmas in Venice… but that hasn’t stopped me from making a list of resolutions!
I know there are resolution haters out there, saying they always make them and always break them… but to them I say this: Why do you keep lying to yourself? Okay, actually, Oprah said that. When I was little or maybe a teenager. She was on one of her weight crusades and talking about how she was seeing a therapist who sounded like a quack but then she said that one liner and it has stuck with me since. Truly… why are you lying to yourself? I, for one, am not a good liar in the first place. I giggle or turn red or awkwardly stutter, even in the case of needing to keep a gift or surprise secret. I wish it wasn’t the case because I love being in on a good prank – but really, don’t trust me, I’ll blow your cover. So if I can’t lie at even the simplest things – why would I lie about the big stuff – like changing my life? And why, of all people, would I lie to myself? So this year, every year, every moment – if I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it.
On my personal blog I made a list of 10 resolutions I’d like to keep not only in 2012 but in life. The main one I wanted to talk about on My Military Life was #1 – Organize my finances. When I turned 18 I got a credit card. Everything – in life – went downhill from there. I wouldn’t know it until four years later though, after I had graduated college and landed myself in over $3,000 worth of credit card debt alone. Now, $3k may not seem like much at all but when you’ve never been taught what “interest” was and yours happens to be 23% … $3,000 turns into paying Old Navy for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. I not only had this bill nagging at me but also school loans and, ya know, had to eat. I went to my mom for help and of course she led the way… straight to the bank where we met up with her friend who helped me take out a loan. “Take this. Pay your credit cards. Cut them in half. Pay this off over the course of 3 years. Raise your credit score. Learn from your mistake. Never speak of this again.” I’m almost quoting to the word. This meeting changed my life. From then on, no matter if I was making $10k a year or $30k, I had my finances budgeted. I had an excel sheet that had everything organized – every loan, every bill, every pizza delivery (old college habits die hard, people). And then… I got married.
I don’t mean for there to be such a dramatic “dun dun dunnnn” pause after that statement but hear me out. I got married to a man who had equally been on his own for the past 7 years, who had equally been acquiring debt, but not as equally worried as I had been. Granted, there are some people in this world who are absolutely fine with living in debt as long as they can pay the minimum or more every time the bill comes along. I am here to tell you: I am not one of those people. When I was in credit card debt, I felt like no dollar I earned mattered because it was all going to some pair of stupid pants I bought 6 months ago. I like my money in my bank account. I like to see numbers, not horrid, red negative signs I had seen so many years before. My husband, while no negative signs thank God, has just… a different way of handling things: he handles them, I assume he handles them, all is well with the world. Well my friends – it’s 2012 and let me say, happy NEW year.
There has been so much transition going on this past year of marriage, moving, career loss, no friends or family around, etc that thinking of organizing “our” finances felt more like telling my hard working husband what to do with his money. I also know some people can be touchy discussing moo-lah but the way I’m seeing it is that I may not be able to have a job for the next 3 years being stationed overseas but I don’t think that means I should be blind to our financial situation, whatever that may be. Tonight I made up my fun excel sheet (who knew I was such a nerd, right?) and emailed my husband showing him how much money I had, what bills I had paid, what bills were left, and what I needed to purchase in the near future. I tried, as best and as nicely as possible, to let him know when he gets home from work – we’re doing the same thing for him! (Okay, okay… cue dun, dun dunnnn.) My hope is that once he sees his monies next to mine – loans, debts, needs, and wishes – he’ll realize that I could contribute to our family by organizing ourselves financially, and I pray he really appreciates it.
I elaborated on my number one resolution here at MML hoping that there are other military wives who have gone through the same thing and have some advice for us newlyweds! Talking about money can be touchy, especially if you’re talking to someone who is used to earning and spending for only themselves (and coming from someone who is used to doing the same!). I also hope you all take a second to truly focus on at least one part of your life this new year and make it better. You deserve it!