Financial Distractions: How We Overcame Disco Debt

Dancing Queens of Financial Distractions

My mind wanders to amazing places, both real and imaginary, like a techno lit dance floor with shirtless muscle men clouded in dry ice. I was using the elliptical machine at our gym recently. The TV in front of me was playing music videos, kinda like MTV when MTV played music videos and not Jerry Springer auditions. There were two videos in a row that reminded me of the early 2000s and took me back to our clubbing days, days we danced in financial distractions.

Neither David nor I were “club kids”, per se. We were slightly too old to qualify. We didn’t dress in raver clothes. We, also, didn’t go clubbing every weekend, as required by the club kid mafia but did go most weekends and some weekdays. We went frequently enough that it was rare we had to wait in line or pay to get into the clubs.

The mid-90s to mid-2000s were the golden years of Denver’s gay scene. There were dozens of gay clubs, bars and restaurants. There was anything from techno to leather, from bear to piano and gym boyz to drag queens. I moved to Denver from Philly and was used to and hoped for a decent gay scene. I was relieved to learn that my passion for snowboarding didn’t bring my disco days to a glittering halt.

Caught in a Bad Romance

David and I met on a dance floor. We were in our late-20s to mid-30s and just entering the peak of our social lives. We were finally liberated, as were many gay men in those days. It’s no secret that the U.S. has quickly, for some too quickly, evolved to accepting the LGBT community. Our high school days were not too far behind us. In high school, “gay” was bad. Always.

Because of that, gays didn’t have the dating and social experiences at the same time as our straight friends. While we may have pretended, even convinced ourselves, that we wanted straight relationships, those were never going to end well. Dating during high school, while awkward for all, was uniquely awkward for us. We didn’t mature socially at the same speed. We were five to ten years behind our straight peers.

While our friends had their first high school flings, we watched. When our friends were settling down, we were encountering our first relationships. Only recently has marriage even become an option. Consequently, gay relationships are often calculated in dog years. This is ironic, as David and I have several straight friends who have met, got married and divorced in the time we’ve been together.

Financial Fakes

Social studies suggest that gays strive to appear to have the perfect home, perfect car, perfect career and perfect body to make up for years of feeling less than perfect. This desire combined with our delayed social maturation timed just as our careers took off created a perfect storm of financial chaos for David and me. We had and spent a lot of money to see and be seen and to look good when seen.

We bought new cars with six+ year terms with down payments on credit cards. We covered every square foot of our home in Pottery Barn purchased on credit. We had the newest clothes and phones. We spent more time at the gym than we ever spent on a budget. These were all financial distractions.

We often wonder where we’d be today if we were more diligent with our spending and savings. We were fortunate enough to eventually have our light bulb disco ball moment than to never have it at all. This moment was when we realized the situation in which we put ourselves. We had $51,000 in credit card debt and were living in a basement apartment with two beat up cars, while our straight peers were buying their first homes.

The Fix for Your Financial Distractions

At this time, the same questions came up over and over again. In hindsight, we wished we would’ve asked these questions when we were 22 rather than 32. Those questions were:

These two questions changed our lives. They let us focus on our authentic selves and not our superficial selves. We thought about the long-term and not the temporary. The club scene and all that came with it were not what we wanted. They were financial distractions.

Do you have financial distractions? We’d love to hear about your financial distractions in the comment section below.

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Comment List

  • Jason Vitug 14 / 10 / 2015 Reply

    That first question is important one to answer. Without a clear “why” we often go back to our old ways of consumption than creation of the reality we sought in the first place.

  • Sarah Noelle 14 / 10 / 2015 Reply

    I had my lightbulb moment less than a year ago, at the age of 33, so I can definitely relate. Like you, I also wonder where I would be now if that moment had happened ten years earlier. But we can’t change the past; all we can do is move forward with as much positivity as possible.
    Eating out is definitely my main financial distraction –and that can really add up! However, I’m challenging myself not to buy any restaurant or takeout food for the entire month of October, to see if I can form some good new cooking habits that will last beyond that time. Wish me luck! So far I’m on track. 🙂

  • Mike Delgado 15 / 10 / 2015 Reply

    John, I didn’t think about my financial future when I was younger either. I saved a little, but focused more on buying the things I wanted (instead of investing for the future). Thankfully, I got put on the right financial track when I started dating a very frugal woman. She was at once frugal, yet generous with others. I loved her approach – and wanted to be like her. She taught me a lot about money while we dated. It wasn’t that she lectured me about money, but I just learned by watching how she lived. I’m grateful that she married me – and 14 years later I’m still learning from her.

    Thank you for opening up and sharing your financial flaws early in life. This a very powerful way to teach others about money. As you know, I’m grateful for the work you’re doing here.

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