Debt Reduction, Money Saving Strategies, Where My Money Goes

Reminders of the past

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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1 thought on “Reminders of the past

  1. Don’t forget, there is a lot of non-monetary value in having the time to enjoy your husband, your friends, your life 🙂

    My situation is similar – inspired by all your blogging, I paid off my car earlier this year, and eliminated the satellite TV bill by going off the TV grid. The net monthly change was +$550/month (minus $10 a month for Netflix which we signed up for after dropping satellite). Have I increased my savings at all in 8 months? No…some of that is fixing a few household things that we’ve been putting off (the washer was on its last legs, as well as the dishwasher) but some is the same mindset you’re talking about “I have $X more a month now so I can be more free with money”.

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