I'm feeling a little discouraged today.
Have you ever had to admit that you were in over your head and you needed help? Then help arrived and you felt relieved at first, but then you started feeling really, really discouraged because you couldn't do it on your own?
So, I like pretty things. I like sparkly things. I like colourful things. I like things that are soft and fluffy. I like things that are expensive. Things you can read. Things you can wear. Basically, I like things. Any amount of things, things of different shapes and sizes, colours and textures. Things make me happy.
Spending money makes me happy.
Money for me has always been a means to an ends. I want this and I need money to get it. Seems pretty simple, right? It is. Until big bad credit card companies start promising you a world full of things and then when you're not looking they 'up' your limit. All of the sudden, things are everywhere and money is nowhere to be found.
When you're spending money just as fast as you're earning it, you never have anything left over for a rainy day. Whether that rainy day involves new brakes for Rosie (yes, I named my car. You haven't?) or a root canal, you can always be sure that unexpected rainy day is super expensive and puts you so far behind you forget what ahead looks like.
This has been my whole adult life. Never getting ahead financially. Always, always behind. I had a visit with the credit counselors a few months back, and they had some pretty helpful tips (which you can find here). Unfortunately, for me, I was far more attracted to the lure of the almighty *thing* than I was the almighty savings account.
To be clear, I'm not poor. I'm not exactly rich, but I'm by no means poor. I make a comfortable income bossing people around all day (as nicely as possible, of course). I don't live lavishly either. I own one Coach purse and almost choked when I bought it. I never pay over $50 for a pair of jeans. I only ever dream of Loubotins or Jimmy Choo's. I prefer silver over gold. The thing is, you don't have to be rich to live in debt. You also don't have to buy expensive things to be in debt. It kind of sneaks up on you while you're buying nail polish and groceries and clothes for a growing boy and paying bills and getting your hair all done and eating out here and there and here and there and a Starbucks latte here and a Timmies double double there and body lotion and that cute summery top that was on sale and the gorgeous silver converse that were on sale and the trip to Costco....and before you know it you're $10,000 behind.
$10,000. To some it's pocket change.
To me...it's a sentence. A life sentence.
So, this credit counselling company is going to take all my credit cards away, take away the interest payments, and consolidate all this into one low, low monthly payment that I will be paying for the next four years. The only hitch is that for the next four years I will not be *allowed* to have a credit card. Or credit of any kind for that matter.
At first I felt overwhelming relief. This was a fabulous freeing feeling. I was free from the interest that was eating up my paychecks every single pay day. I was free from the taunting from the credit cards, 'use me, use me, use me'. I was given useful tools for how to budget and how to save my money. I was admitting defeat and learning from my mistakes. I was growing. This was going to be a fabulous thing I was doing.
That feeling didn't last very long.
Because then I remembered that I couldn't do this.....
Or buy a ring like this....
And then I realized this was going to be no walk in the park. This was going to be hard work. What on earth am I going to do with my free time if I cannot spend money? I mean, all kidding aside...my hobby is shopping. Not window shopping...actual, let's spend some money, let's buy something shopping. My clothing budget for the year is $360.00. I've budgeted to spend $10 a week on coffee. Yes, you read that right, not $10 a day, but $10 a week. I have a $10/month budget for books. Uh....hello? Do you know what this means? This means I'm going to have to *gasp* get books from the library. I can't buy anything on Ebay for 4 years. I can't book a flight online for 4 years. I cannot buy anything on Etsy for 4 years. Technically (eye roll) I can't do that now, either because my cards are all maxed out. But 'technically' never really sat that well with me anyways.
Realistically, these are skills I'm supposed to be learning for a life time....not just the years until my debt is paid off. But my vision goes all blurry (eek! No laser eye surgery for 4 years), I get ringing in my ears and I feel a little faint when I think of just how drastically my life is going to have to change, and how little say I now have on the topic. That might be the worst of it...I have no control over it. Some gal named Linda does. I don't even know what Linda looks like, and she's got all my credit cards. Sigh
Some lessons in life are a little more painful than others. I guess this is one of them.