Friday, October 5, 2007

The Worst Financial Mistake I Ever Made

It was on a Friday. The Friday before we were leaving to get married, in fact. We were flying to St. Maarten early Sunday morning for our destination wedding that was 15 months in the works. We had to run to the American Express travel office to get our traveler's cheques to pay for the wedding - coordinator, flowers, officiant, everything.

Go backwards a month or two. We didn't have the cash to pay for the wedding. So, in a flash of inspiration, we took out a line of credit. Not a HELOC - we didn't even qualify for one with the debt we were already in. A fixed rate LOC through Bank of America, who I already had a credit card with. The rate? 19.99%.

Once we opened the LOC, we took out a $10,000 cash advance. There was a 3% balance transfer fee to put it into our checking account. So already we were at -$10,300 for this loan. I then took the money and paid off our American Express card. The intent was to use the Amex card to buy the traveler's cheques. Notice I said "intent".

Back to that fateful Friday in July 2006. We were happy and excited to be leaving to get married! We drove together to Amex Travel, went upstairs and asked to purchase $7,000 in cheques. Then we plunked down the Amex card. Now, I don't know too much about all Amex cards, but this was a students card, left over from the college days. You can charge traveler's cheques on a students card. But only $1,000 worth. We were, quite frankly, screwed. We needed the money in cash to pay everyone. We put almost all of the cash advance toward the Amex card.

The next few hours were a blur of arguing, calling Amex & going to the bank to try and reverse the payment and get the cash back in our checking account. Remember, this was at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon. We got nowhere fast. In a tearfully humiliating phone call, we asked my husband's parents for a loan to pay for our remaining wedding expenses. They were able to work it out (no easy feat) to do so. There was and is no way to thank them enough for coming through for us. (Maybe public recognition on, say, a blog? :) Thanks Mom & Dad!)

The feelings I had that day were horrible. I have never been so mortified in my life. I am almost in tears now just writing about it. So why am I dredging up this tale of woe instead of burying the pain?

TODAY WE PAID OFF THAT LOAN!!!!!! The final $865.28 was transfered to Bank of America this morning. Once that posts, I'll see if there is any residual interest, but it would be minimal.

It's such an amazing feeling to cross that off the list. We've been married for 1 year and 3 months and have eliminated that awful, horrendous burden. (We paid his parents back first - that was completed in February.) No more will I have to chip away at this nagging debt that has plagued us since we got married. I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

Whew! On to the next one!

6 comments:

MoneyDummy said...

CONGRATULATIONS! I'm so proud of you! It's so cool to read about you getting that mistake behind you!

Shanti said...

Wahoo!! I think it's really great that you paid off your parents first. And CONGRATS! It is so inspirational to hear that... it makes me feel one step closer to my debt-free goals. I'm happy for you :D

lynnae @ Being Frugal.net said...

Congratulations! And good job for sticking it out until the debt was paid!

Mrs. Micah said...

Congratulations!!! That must have been horribly stressful. Bless your parents for helping you out. And great job sticking to the repayment. :-)

JvW said...

Thank you all so much! It really does feel great to be rid of that debt. We haven't crossed one off in months.

debtfretter said...

Congrats. I have a similar experience regarding the worst finanical mistake I ever made, and i think I'll write a post about it too. I also feel horrible when remembering mine, but on the plus side it really kicked our butts into gear. I NEVER want to feel that way about money again!