I fell off the wagon

The credit card wagon that is. I have used my credit card (palm to forehead). Even AFTER writing I cut up my credit card on Monday and requiring myself to be ridiculously accountable to everyone EVER, I still used my credit card.

Why?

Well first of all, the credit card gods wanted a good giggle and two days AFTER I cut up my old card, a new one came in the mail because the  old one had expired. And instead of cutting that one up too, I put it in my wallet “just in case”. I had obviously forgotten that there is no “just in case”.

And then came El Christmas. I knew this was going to happen, I tried to protect myself against it and I still wasn’t successful at not spending a ton of money on Christmas presents. I ended up spending about 250$ for El Christmas and another 250$ somewhere else since November 3rd and here I am, up 500$ in cc debt.

How could this happen to me? I am disheveled, distraught, overwhelmed and utterly panicked. What am I going to do?! I am going to die destitute, no money, no car, no house….

Just kidding. I don’t feel that way. Ok, maybe I felt like an utter failure for about two minutes and then I reverted back to smart JillyP and realized a few things:

#1. I am responsible for these problems, I made the choice to buy those things and it is my fault.

#2. It’s not my fault in the traditional sense. Yes, I made these choices and they have hurt me financially but will I feel guilty about them? No. Will I tear my hair out and cry and whine and complain annoyingly? No.  Will I take responsibility for my actions, make a change and move on? Absolutely.

#3. I will examine WHY I spent money that I shouldn’t have, learn from that and move on with a better more effective action plan for financial success.

Why did I use my credit card? 2 main reasons:

1. I was NOT honest with myself. I was trying to be disciplined concerning habits/patterns/ways of life that I do not, I repeat, do not want to be disciplined about. My favorite things in life are going out to dinner with my friends and reading. That being said I was trying spend 150$ on groceries a month and 50$ on books a month. Yeah, that math does NOT add up. First thing I did  was to ramp both of those amounts up and immediate peace followed.

#2. I wasn’t honest about how much I could put to paying off my credit card each month and how much I could put to savings. Heres the thing. Financial advisors from all different points of view will tell you the same thing: that you need to pay down your credit card first before you contribute anything to your savings. I have tried over the past 6 months to follow this advice. Diligently putting 500$ a month to my credit card and 0$ to my savings. This has gotten me absolutely nowhere. First of all, watching my credit card balance s  l   o  w  l  y  drop is not HALF as nice as watching my savings account balance increase by 100$ extra every month. And believe me, I know all of the math behind paying off the debt first before putting 100$ into savings but it doesn’t FEEL good to put 500$ to my credit card and 0$ into my savings account. I feel no sense of forward movement, no sense of progress, I am discouraged and all I ever look at is my credit card account BARELY lowering and my savings account doing NOTHING. There needs to be a sense of ACCOMPLISHMENT in a POSTIVE way.  Otherwise I wont do it. And  if and when I “need” to use my credit card, I can go to my savings account instead since there is a stash of cash there; there is no longer any excuse for using the credit card.

So my question to you is this: where are you lying to yourself about what you spend your money on? I realized that I was really afraid to admit how much money I spend on food/books a month. I felt like it would bring my “play money” down even more than it already is… but you know what? After I admitted how much I want to spend on groceries every month, I felt relief. I knew what I wanted, I had things mapped out and I had a plan of attack that was actually going to work. What things do you really love buying/can’t live without and what things do you barely buy? Where can you be more honest?

Also, where can you start paying off debt and saving money in a way that feels good but is also in line with your financial goals? If paying off 1000$ a month in credit card debt makes you feel REALLY good, go for it. If paying off only 250$ a month in credit card debt makes you feel good while you put 100$ to your savings, do that. It is a good rule of thumb that you want to try to contribute at least a 100$ over your minimum payment due for your credit card so that you know you’re hitting the principal amount, but if that plus saving a little each month is what makes you feel good and is sustainable, do it.

Ok. I’m back on the wagon. You?

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Marie said,

    This is a MAJOR battle that I deal with. I have some money in my saving as well as substantial credit card debt. So this morning I just did it. A couple button clicks and money was transferred and then the credit card was paid off. What is the psychological deal with this? Why did I wait MONTHS (and pay tons on interest)? I didn’t see the money anyway, but I felt “safer” with it in my savings. I feel good (and still slightly nervous?). I’m back on the wagon too. 🙂

    Marie

    • 2

      jiljil1313 said,

      Its really weird huh? I think the fear just comes from feeling like you don’t have a “back up”…. or some type of emergency account to go back on when you need it. Also, I think really recognizing when you’re making steps, even if they are baby steps, is important to feel a sense of progress 🙂 YaY for back on the wagon!

      Jill


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