I’m not sure if this was something that was worthy of celebration, but in all of the busyness of fall, I realized the other day that I had passed the one-year anniversary of getting my credit card debt paid off.
And while this certainly warrants a “woo hoo!”, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I only realized this because I was cleaning up our basement for some company and I found old credit card statements from 2008.
One year after the fact, I am still without a credit card. Given that my debit card is a Visa that “acts” like a credit card, I never run into any problems or restrictions on using it. And I don’t anticipate having a credit card anytime in the future. (My husband has one … most of the time I just grouse at him for using it, I’m not ever tempted to have him actually use it.)
I wish that I could tell you that paying off my credit card debt magically solved all of my problems. Not that I have many problems, but you know what I mean – that all of the sudden, I was able to project my energy that I put towards paying off my credit card debt towards organizing my life or losing weight. Or that I all of the sudden had this incredible surplus of money that wasn’t being funnelled towards my credit card debt and that I have an enormous emergency fund and retirement accounts that will allow me to retire at 35 and pay off my college and mortgage in one fell swoop.
Yeah … not so much. The reality is this: I still have a crappy relationship with money. The current battle that I am waging is to get beyond living paycheck to paycheck and build meaningful savings. I need to really figure out where my money is going, because I’m no longer paying off my credit card debt, but I’m also not seeing a magical surplus. To be blunt – I am doing something wrong. And it’s up to me to fix it.
On the plus side (and this is where my money has gone) … I was able to quit my part-time job in April and spend an incredible summer with my husband. We averaged a weekend per month where we were physically in our home – when we weren’t home we drove a lot of miles, we drank a lot of wine, we visited a lot of friends and family, we did some incredible things and a common refrain that I heard from people this summer was “gosh, you guys are always doing something fun on the weekends.”
Being debt free means that I get to spend time with the people that I love. Not working my arse off to undo financial mistakes that I made in the past. The next step of the journey (which has taken me over a year to realize and in the next year achieve) is that I need to be more mindful about my money. Mentally, I’ve been justifying my lifestyle by saying “well, I’m not using credit cards, so I can spend my money on [fill in the blank].” That’s not good enough anymore. It’s time to up my A-game and really try to be mindful about where my money goes and to start building savings.
I’ll let you know how this goes … my first step is to re-read Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover.” I need to get my mind in the money saving mode …
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