Thursday, June 3, 2010

How did I get here?

Amazingly, I wasn't always a money-savvy budgeter that lived within her means.

When I first graduated from college I took a job where I made so little money, my rent was more than 50% of my take home pay -- and this was renting a room in a 2 bedroom apartment that I shared with a somewhat nutty roommate in a not-so-nice part of town.

You probably think I was eating ramen every night and watching TV at home with bunny ears on it? Well, that's what I *should* have been doing. But I wasn't. Instead I was eating out, buying LOTS of beers, traveling to see colleges friends who had dispersed around the country and adding to my wardrobe like it was going out of style. Where did I get all this money from? Yes, dear readers, I was lured by the evil credit card.

After I was let go from my job after 9 months or so, did I buckle down and live within my means? No. I had some contract positions where I continued to make very little money, and continued to spend on my credit cards.

After a couple years, I looked at my many credit card statements (if you have a lot of cards, you can somehow convince yourself the debt isn't as bad as it really is) and realized I was in way over my head. I got an OK-paying job at that point, but it wasn't nearly enough to make more than the minimum payments. I owed the equivalent of a really nice new car to Mr. Visa, Master Card and American Express.

Enter, stage left, my awesome family -- always ready to help out a child in need. They lent me the money to pay off my debt, and I have been paying them back ever since. Slowly. They insist that they don't care the rate at which it is paid back, as long as I pay it back sometime. I'm really lucky, aren't I?

The good thing that came out of all of this is that I really learned my lesson from all of this. I now have a budget that I stick to no matter what. I have an emergency fund to sustain me if I should ever lose my job again. I still use credit cards (for the airline miles - again with the travel obsession), but I pay them off in full every month. Actually, I pay them off many times throughout the month, because it makes me feel better.

When I look back at the old me, I am pretty proud of the way I work my finances now. I've come a long way.


  1. You know, there are a lot of us who learned the hard way about credit cards. When I look back over my adult life, there are so many things I could have chosen to do differently that would have made a big difference in my financial situation. Most of us aren't fortunate enough to be taught good money management skills. Once we know better, we do better. My kids are going to have a LOT more info about money management than I ever did - I hope they will choose to take my advice and avoid many of the pitfalls I fell into over the years.

    (BTW, thanks for adding me to your blogroll :) I couldn't see a way to email you directly.)

  2. Thanks for the comment on my blog, sounds like we have a lot in common. I too, learned the hard way about credit cards and now pay them off in full every month. Going through a divorce is difficult, but I know for me it's the right thing to do and I will be so much happier in the long run. You've done a fabulous job getting yourself back in to great financial shape. Keep up the great work!

  3. Karen - There really needs to be mandatory money management in schools. Money 101 should be taught right along with algebra and history.

    I just added my contact info to the blog. It's been awhile since I've blogged, and I need to brush up on blogging 101.

    Leanne - Yes, divorce is really difficult. Harder than I imagined, even though I know it is the right thing as well. I am not sure I am ready to blog about my divorce just yet, but I know it will have to come up here at some point. I was really impressed that you are able to lay it all out there on your blog!


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