Feel down about a money mistake? Have no fear, here at HYDMS I know that it happens to everybody, even we self-proclaimed “experts”. The important part is to learn from our own mistakes and from others.
Tell us a little about Yourself.
Hey there! I’m Trevor Kazaks, founder of Adulting Made Easy and a nationally certified sign language interpreter from Florida. I got myself into a large amount of debt shortly after graduating college. And the thing is, I thought it was completely normal. My wife and I really had no financial background or mentors to guide us through the crucial turning points in making decisions with our money. We got suckered into the deceptive marketing techniques employed by companies to benefit them, not us. When it was all said and done, we were staring at over 100k in debt. We had to make a change. So I dedicated myself to learning exactly how to get out of debt. Once I figured that out, I learned how to turn our money situation into a wealth-building machine.
What was your money mistake and when did you make it?
Well, I made multiple mistakes, just like lots of people… but I would say the biggest one was taking out over $35,000 on credit to pay for a wedding! Talk about selling your soul to the devil…
What led you to making the mistake?
This is how it went:
We could barely make our bills each month straight out of college.
My mom actually bought 2/3rds of my engagement ring because I couldn’t even afford it (put the rest on credit).
When it was time for my fiance to start making plans and checking prices, I had nothing to offer.
Her family had nothing to offer.
My family had not much to offer.
We were stuck. I was afraid. I didn’t want to disappoint the love of my life. All the struggles she went through, all the pain she endured growing up poor, she needed a fantastic wedding. And I was determined to give it to her.
I started asking for credit increases.
$10,000 to $25,000? Approved.
$5,000 to $15,000? Approved.
$10,000 in new card offers? Approved.
How did you recover from it?
Well, after we had the time of our lives at the wedding, reception, and honeymoon, we got back to reality. And after about a year, where all the introductory rates fell off, and the APRs of 15-25% kicked in, we were paying $2500+ in credit card payments. Minimum payments. We got so aggressive, we even downgraded into a 1 bedroom, 800 sq ft. apartment to afford the bills. But we couldn’t. We were drowning and, at the time, we only had 6 months left before we wouldn’t be able to afford it anymore. What seemed like the darkest moment of our lives turned into the best thing we can do. We filed for bankruptcy. The whole process only took a few months, and we were back in full control of our finances.
What would you have done differently?
100% we would’ve waited probably another 5 more years to get married. There was no reason to rush into marriage. Don’t get me wrong, my wife and I are entirely and stupidly in love with each other, and it’s been like that the whole 10 years (and counting) we’ve been together. But rushing into a huge expense, using debt to do so, is the biggest no-no ever!
How can others avoid the same money mistake?
Think of it this way. If you’re getting married for legal status or rights that come with it, you probably need to reevaluate what you’re doing. Don’t get me wrong, there are some perks here and there when you’re married. But overall, if you can’t wait another few years to get married the right way, then maybe you need to reconsider. With more time comes clarity, clarity leads to smarter decisions, and smarter decisions are how you win in the personal finance game of life.
Most importantly, what did you learn from your money mistake?
Patience rules everything. If you want a big purchase, wait until you have the money. If you want that extravagant wedding, plan and save for it. If it’s not in the budget for another, say, 10-15 years, decide whether you can scale it down or wait that long for it. Time, control, and patience. That’s what I learned from my money mistake.
Anything else you want to say?
First off, thank you for this interview. I love to share my horrible experiences with others so that they may learn from them.
Secondly, I’ll explain why I created my business:
The exciting thing about sign language interpreting is that you have to be creative and think outside the box. It’s not everyone’s job to be consistently artsy and develop ways to make your clients understand each other. I remember reading everything I can about finance. I would find myself feeling bored at times. Boredom fuels distraction and avoidance. That’s where my business, Adulting Made Easy, shines. It aims to create fun and exciting ways to teach finance so that everyone can understand (and have fun while doing it). I mean, why wouldn’t you want to laugh while learning about how you can make more money with your 401k? That’s why I do what I do. So the people around you hear you laughing while learning how to be smart with your money. You can find me at www.AdultingMadeEasy.org. See you there!
Jeff is a fan of all things finance. When he’s not out there changing the world with his blog, you can find him on a run, a Mets game, playing video games, or just playing around with his kids.