To read part one: my spiral into debt, you can read Running Up Debt.
I took the plastic out of my wallet. I hung up my running shoes. There were changes to be made if I wanted to be a better person. A healthy, heavier person with a normal bank balance and not a stack of bills in the mailbox each month. I called all the credit card companies I owed money to – 6 in all – and set my accounts to pay off status. I had attempted consolidating to a 0% interest card 2 years earlier but ended up maxing that one out. Yes, really. So, no consolidating. Just plain old own up to your stupidity pay it off status.
By this time, hubby and I had moved, bought a house, and were both working. He ended up leaving his job and I was the sole breadwinner for a while. We had started to simplify our wants and were trying to only pay for our needs. House, cars (paid for in cash), insurances, utilities. And my credit cards.
We started an envelope system to keep track of every single dollar and budget it accordingly so we could live our life and pay my debt at the same time. It worked well. It didn’t take a terribly long time to pay off more than half of my consumer debt of over $10,000 even though I was only making $13/hr.
With $4500 to go, we were getting impatient. I was mad. I hated that I had to spend dollars then to pay for things that I thought I needed years ago. I had to have them and most of those things I didn’t even own anymore. They were things or experiences that left no lasting memory – just a bill – and then were gone. And I was left paying for them, plus interest.
I was ready to be rid of consumer debt forever.
With $4500 left to pay off, we made a deal with my parents who were about to pay a contractor to paint the interior of the cottage nearly that exact amount. Hubby would paint for them. They’d pay the last bill. For weeks, he was gone from home while I went to work every day and he was hours away painting many square feet of beaded board to pay off the last of my credit cards. I still get a little choked up thinking about it. How lucky to have a husband who has always valued saving over spending. To have parents willing to help, but not willing to just hand it over. Thank you to all of them.
I know I’ve made many mistakes before and since then. It’s hard to think back on the things the people who love me have done and how I have let them down with those mistakes and many more.
The best I can do is to do better tomorrow than I did today. To learn from yesterday. To appreciate what I have and not want for what I don’t. To love. Today, I do all of those things better than I did yesterday but not as well as I will tomorrow.
There is more between that day of payoff and now, more attempts at using credit cards again. None went well until just last month.
To be continued…