A year ago I woke up and realized that I’d bumped my head and accumulated a credit card bill that I couldn’t pay in full at the end of the month or the next year. I felt like I was drowning and whenever I’d pay the monthly bill, half of what I paid was added back onto the total in interest charges. Looking back I can’t tell you exactly what I’d charged that accumulated into a pool of credit card debt. I do know that it wasn’t a car (still driving the silver bullet) or a bunch of fancy clothes. I do remember that some of the charges stemmed from a pricey and unexpected car repair bill, an airline ticket or two that I’d sworn I’d pay off with the next check but then needed the cash for something else. Numerous trips to Costco and who knows what else.
I remember telling a friend that I was working on getting out of credit card debt and she was shocked that I even owed more then $10 on my credit cards. I’m known as the frugal one, the one who has nice things but nothing too flashy, I usually don’t get on the new electronic gadget bandwagon until after some time has gone by and the prices have lowered. I was the one who graduated from college with only school loans and a $100 credit card bill. What happened in the 10 years to get me to where I was this time last year? I wasn’t vigilant, I wasn’t paying attention to my spending habits or I should say I chose to ignore what was happening and kept right on spending. Ever since I received my first credit card almost 14 years ago I’ve fought the battle of not using it unless I could pay it off in full. I usually win and can say in those 14 years I’ve really lost my head three times where it took me more then a year to pay it off but that was three times to many.
I’m constantly fighting a money management battle. I’ve had two examples growing up, my mom who is extremely fiscally responsible and my dad who is the exact opposite. That man has champagne tastes with a beer budget. I’d say I fall in the middle. When I was saving up for my house I cut a lot of unnecessary expenses out and put myself on a strict allowance so I know I can do it. It was just an extremely painful process and I am struggling to find a happy medium. About a year ago a friend introduced me to her financial planner and although I was skeptical about spending money to hire someone to do what I figure wasn’t rocket science I knew I needed help. I was tired of drowning and the vicious cycle hasn’t helped me build the kind of wealth I’d like to have “just in case”.
In a week and a half I will be completely debt free! Writing down the debt per credit card in a notebook made it real and crossing off cards that were paid off has been an extremely liberating experience. I’ve put myself back on an allowance and am looking forward to watching the numbers grow in my savings account. I have two vacations planned for this year and it’s going to feel amazing to use “cash” to pay for everything. It feels great to get back on track and I’m taking steps to make sure I can’t get myself into this situation again.