This post is the first in a series of many. As a reader, I appreciate when people are honest and share their stories. We all need to know that we are not alone. We all need to know there’s a way out.
When I was twenty-four, I looked at my system for paying off my debt. (Taking a moment of silence for my youth…) I’d created this glorious spreadsheet, listed all of my creditors, and listed how much I paid each month when I was about twenty-three. I wanted to know how much I was putting toward debt each. The number was quite astounding when it was totaled, but it still wasn’t diminishing the debt I’d incurred.
I looked at my balances and was amazed, and embarrassed, at how close I was to many of my limits. Deciding to enact a plan, I paid off two of my credit cards within six months and paid one of my student loans less that two months after that. Amazing right?! I was so impressed with myself. I started paying down my Macy’s card and continued living my life without changing my habits or views on money.
As a fashion blogger, I spent a good deal of money on clothes. My clothing collection is extensive… still is. After work, my evenings were mostly spent shopping, taking photos, and blogging. While I was only using one shop card, I was still spending over $150 on clothes each month of my own cash. Sometimes much more, if the season was changing or school was starting. Remember that Macy’s card I talked about? No progress was made. NONE.
When we decide to put what we want now before what we want long term, we hurt ourselves tremendously. My constant need to have the latest trends to keep up with trends and posting 3-4 times a week while my debt continued to grow was slowly killing me until the point that it all broke me apart.
I was twenty-seven.
I was starting over, and I was embarassed. I shut everyone out and was in solitude for nearly a year. And I did nothing for my debt. For years, I’ve been surviving. Making small strides, but never quite catching the momentum I had before. Paying off those cards felt SO good. It’s literally like a weight being lifted. I felt lighter and less stressed. Deciding I was finally ready, I bought the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Being renewed in my faith, I felt like this would be a great choice for me.
In examining why I spent so much money, I found that I just didn’t want to feel left out. I didn’t want to miss out on “life” because I couldn’t afford it. Truth is, I can afford life. I can afford more life, if I just live with in my means. Unlike what I believed, it’s not that difficult.
Now, there are months that can go by without me buying a new outfit. In the short time that I’ve been reading the Total Money Makeover, I’ve found myself really examining my purchases, which has pretty much left me without buyinh much of anything. I’m back to focusing on paying off my credit card debt, and hope to have three credit cards paid off by the end of 2017. Yes, that includes Macy’s.
Life can be fulfilling without digging ourselves into a hole of financial ruin. If you can’t pay the balance on your card each month, you probably shouldn’t have it. If you’re behind on car payments, but you’ve been out three times this week, you probably need to rethink your priorities. I’m done accumulating stuff just for the sake of doing so.
Does this mean I’m never shopping again? Nope. It does mean that I will fit shopping into my budget and appreciate more of what I have, though. It means I’m going to be cooking more. It means I’ll be hanging with friends more at home than at the latest restaurant. This is all perfectly fine.
I’m not going to show you all of the lastest fashions as a blogger, but I am going to show you how I use what I have well. And I hope that works well for you! Stay tuned for more of this journey. Complete honesty here!