Ach, crap! I was just talking to my sister about how being responsible and getting out of debt and aggressively paying off debt/credit card sucks bobo. BOBO. It really does……but as she so cleverly pointed out, when in the past I have not been acting responsibly and paying off certain debt, I was spending money that didn’t belong to me. And probably on random and unimportant crap.
I am not currently debt free….I am debt managed (nice term, sister). I am being responsible. It is not fun; it’s painful and disheartening and sucky. But it’s not forever…..for a few months of eliminating ALL unnecessary spending and reducing where possible any necessary spending, I will eventually get my money back. Money I am paying out for poor decisions that I made in my Pre-Responsible-Shanny-Days. Money I am paying out because I didn’t say no, because I wanted things I didn’t need, because I was sad or mad or happy or because I thought that whatever it was would make things better.
I have no shame about it though. I have only determination and respect for myself and a plan going forward. I have a newfound ability to say no, to decline plans and if pushed, to say “Sorry, I can’t afford to do/buy/go xyz right now.” I feel zero shame when I say that. I have a well-paying job and I should be able to afford to do whatever I want. However…………35.5 years of having no financial education, no financial guidance, never having seen or used a budget, never being schooled on credit or debit cards, I’m in the only position a person could assume to find themselves in. Add to that that I’m a member of an instant gratification generation, a generation that doesn’t save and a generation that is marketed to like never before in history, is it any surprise that I have debt?
Fortunately I have managed to maintain a good credit record and do not have anyone inquiring about payments. I’m probably lucky about that. But the time came a couple months ago when I decided that enough was enough. Spending stopped, aggressively paying off started and a new financial road map is being written. While this financial “dig out” is only temporary and with rigid planning and stick-to-it-ness will be over by this time next year, it feels really shitty right now. Mainly because I have never pulled in the reins on myself before and I don’t like it.
I’ve had to reduce my expectations on certain events, schedule in, delay or cancel things I would have just blindly gone ahead with and I’ve really had to rethink what my “must haves” are. I’m creating a new relationship with my debit card, and my credit card and I barely ever hang out anymore. I “use up” things I already have that are, in some cases, less desirable/tasty/effective but which don’t cost me money. I throw out nothing and try to find things I already have that can fill a need before I go out and buy something. And, in the cases where no substitution can be made, I have to ask myself, “Is this whatever really worth delaying my financial freedom?”. Sometimes the answer is yes, especially if it’s a small ticket thing like a nice cup of tea or a fun $10 movie. Sometimes I do answer “No, I can make do without.” and I usually feel good about those decisions….especially when three or four months ago I wouldn’t have thought twice about doing/buying it. If I can make do without now, did I really need it back then? Sometimes though, the answer is “No, but I’m doing it anyway” and those are the ones I need to run from like they are poison. I am trying to switch myself over to cost over convenience; for example, Ziploc bags are more convenient than glass containers that have to be washed (usually by me) every day….but the glass containers last forever and the Ziploc bags are money thrown in the trash (not to mention the impact on the environment!). Or the Keurig cups that are fast and disposable over the reusable K-cup that takes longer to set up but uses coffee that is a zillion times cheaper (again with the environment!).
So that’s where I am. Standing here with a big shovel, determined to set things right and refining the skills to do so. It’s a work in progress.