Those successful financiers did not get where they are by building an empire founded on debt funded by credit. Yet so many, myself included, were excited to get their first credit card. But we didn’t stop there. We experienced how easy it was to have it all by just showing that card, and from the first one we started collecting more and more. We never stopped to think that this newfound credit was taking us “down” the ladder of success further and further into the black hole of debt and despair.
Each time we manage to wake up and feel the pain of this credit-driven debt, we find a way to pull ourselves out – but the temptation is great, and we seem to always turn back to our old ways. It took me three tries to escape, and then my stepdad talked to me and made me see the light. It made me upset to think I may have disappointed him, as he told me he had high expectations of me. I had to change.
Now, I am not a gambler and have seen too many friends and family who were. When on a winning streak they were happy, but they never stopped to consider how much they lost in order to win. Frankly, I could see it was not worth it and yet, suddenly I realized something I was gambling with credit. Like them, I failed to recognize how much I was spending in proportion to what I was paying back to the cards. I had to take on two jobs to keep myself afloat and pay off my credit.
Before you know it, life is passing you by and you have nothing to show for it. I had always dreamed after graduating from high school of having my own place by the time I was forty, if not married by then. That dream fizzled as I was too much in debt with credit. My mom and I loved to eat and tour open houses, she had three girls whom she adored and though we are all different, I was amazed how she knew just how to reach each one of us at our level. She was amazing! After my dad walked out, her parents said she could go back home – but she had experienced independence, and was determined to make it on her own. We moved into a rented carriage house with three bedrooms, where we lived for seven years.
She taught me how to shop frugally, and I would stop and do grocery shopping for her at times on my way home from school and catch a taxi home from the store. I think back and I realize now, no one had credit cards then. Yet, we made it with hard work – mom took in sewing jobs, and I babysat to help make ends meet. She raised three girls to adulthood, and we never left the nest. After she passed, we continued to live with my stepdad another sixteen years, and he saw me into retirement. I was there when he needed chemo trips and doctor appointments – sadly he passed on the eve of February 14, 2016 to join his Valentine.
A once alive home with mom and my stepdad’s voices and footsteps echoing the halls, now were silent and somber. Sadness of greif filled our hearts, friends were convincing me it was time to move on and experience independence. I reconnected with a real estate friend and started working with her doing odd jobs until one day she was online and brought my attention to this quaint little home not far away in the neighboring town of Kingston. The instant I stepped inside I felt my mom smiling, I felt I had found my forever home and with a little finagling of my budget, I found I could afford it. My stepdad’s peptalk in 2008 had paid off, I now realized I too could find the independence my mom did and still be near my sisters. It is an incredible feeling, breaking the debt cycle and moving toward budgeting to learn to live successfully within one’s means.
A budget should identify all the income and cash you have coming in each month, and then direct it first to pay off all your current bills to maintain where you are; the remainder being applied to eliminating any outstanding debt by utilizing the debt snowball method. Work them down, and cut them up until you have one card left with a balance available that you can pay off each month if you had to. But better, start saving the money you paid to credit each month in a savings or IRA where it can earn you money to live off of, rather than paying interest and fees to keep credit. Keep your independence and freedom debt free, and budget to do what you want, when you want.