My wife and I are both in our early 20s, we're debt-free, and we're just a couple of months away from having a fully loaded emergency fund of six months of expenses. We both also have 401(k) plans at work, and we're looking forward to starting additional investments later this year. Right now, we're trying to decide on which life insurance policies to buy ...
I'm the oldest of 5 siblings. With being raised by a single father (who's terrible with money), I've always taken more of a maternal and financially responsible role with my siblings. I want to help and see them succeed. Unfortunately, up until recently, I often 'helped' them with money. I've now paid a stupid tax for each of my 4 siblings.
Sibling 1: My wait-until-the-last-minute brother waited until 2 weeks before the semester to enroll in community college. He needed $500 to enroll since his financial aid money would wouldn't come in time. I gladly shelled out the money with the agreement that he'd pay me back when financial aid came in. Well, you can't just stop showing up to school after the first few weeks and still expect a check from the government. That was $500 lost forever.
Sibling 2: My sister, while in college, was needing a cell phone. She asked me if I could add her to my plan so that both of us could save a little money. I thought it was a great idea! Luckily this was before smart phones, so there wasn't any financing for devices. She purchased a phone, and had agreed to pay $35 a month for the call and texting plan. I only ever received her first payment and was locked into a 12 month contract. $385 stupid tax.
Sibling 3: My sister's husband decided to move his family cross country for a job. They were in the process of purchasing a house but they moved 2 weeks before they were able to close on the house. This meant hotel stays. Hotel stays they had no money for because they had no emergency fund, all their money was tied up with the closing of their new house, and their credit cards were maxed. I let them put those hotel stays on my credit card. Two weeks in a hotel is not cheap, but I couldn't let my nephews sleep in the car. And of course, I didn't have the money to pay off my credit card balance so I faced some hefty interest charges for months. They never paid me back, and I don't even know what I paid in stupid tax on this one.
And Sibling 4: With all 4 of us sisters now adults with careers and money, we wanted to go on a European trip together. We found an amazing deal, and in order to lock it in, we needed to purchase within 48 hours. So what did I do? Put it on my credit card. It was explicitly clear that everyone had the money in-hand, and could send it to me immediately. Except that my sister lost her job 2 days later and kept the money since it was all the extra cash she had. Even though the non-refundable trip was months away, she never found a way to pay me back. $850 in stupid tax.
Conclusion: No matter my good intentions, I was the one left holding the bill. The oldest sibling bank has closed for good. My husband and I have since gotten on the Dave Ramsey plan. We cut up our credit cards, stopped handouts, accepted my stupid tax situations and forgiven those debts, live off a budget, and are just a few months from being debt free. It's been a huge relief and blessing in our life.
My husband is a recovering heroin addict. He's been clean for two years, but I still feel we shouldn't keep cash in the house or give him unsupervised access to a bank account ...