What I did about my credit card debt

Oh credit cards. The evil little bastards that make you feel like you have more money than you do. Just me?

Credit Card Debt

I don’t have a long history with credit cards, but to me, they’re not worth the hassle. I didn’t get a credit card until about five years ago and I used it strictly for emergencies and paid it off right away. I didn’t start having issues with my cards until my ex-boyfriend and I broke up and I went from a two income lifestyle to one. Lesson number one – never rely on anyone (or anything) besides yourself. 

To be completely honest, I’m really wasn’t that bad with my cards but I was getting there. While it’s going to be difficult to figure out how to live on my actual income and not depend on a card for random stuff I think I need. I started out using it when my car broke down (which is every other month it feels like) or for something to eat because I had no food or for a few drinks because I’m single and lonely and OH MY GOSH SOMEONE INVITED ME TO DO SOMETHING.

Lesson Number Dos: It doesn’t matter if I think I deserve something, if I can’t afford it, I can’t afford it. This is something that is a struggle for me. When I’m constantly working 60-hour weeks and have nothing to show for it, it’s hard to tell myself, “no, you can’t have Chipotle again today because you have no money in your bank account”. While I do think that I need to treat myself once in awhile, I need to be realistic about it. And for God’s sakes, Jessie, STOP GOING TO TJ MAXX.

What am I doing about it?
There’s a couple of things, really.

First off, I took out a loan with a local credit union to pay off the balance that I have. My balance isn’t high, but because I have five cards (yes, you read that right), I can only afford the minimum payment on each of them and it’s going to be impossible to pay them off. Compared to some, I probably have a baby balance, but I’m sick of living in debt. If I wanna play with debt, I can just go log on to my federal and private student loans and cry my eyes out about that.

Second, once those suckers are paid off by the bank later this week, I’m cutting those bitches up and canceling them. I’ve heard mixed reviews from people on this one. Some people think that’ll affect my credit. Some people think I should keep one for perks. Some people think I should keep one for emergencies. As of right now, I don’t intend on listening to any of those people and do what I want. Which is destroy them. 🙂

Third, I’m canceling everything that’s not necessary. Okay, there’s only two of them, but I’m really bummed about it. I love my Ipsy box and my Love with Food box, but that’s $20 right there per month that I can use for something else. And I can always sign back up for those once I get my finances under control. I’m also canceling Hulu (I really don’t use it unless I miss Scandal or the Bachelor) and my JustFab.com account. Just Fab only takes the money out if you buy something or forget to skip your month, but of course they make it VERY easy to lose the email that says “Skip this month” and you have about 3.5 seconds to remember to skip it. They also make it very difficult to cancel and make you sit on the phone with some rando in order to cancel it, but I’m going to do it! I also canceled my Cosmopolitan magazine, but I didn’t need to be reading that crap anyway.

Fourth, I’m going to have to get back into making a budget. In college, I still had a check book (I know, I’m old) so I had to balance that bad boy all the time. Now with online banking, I’m really good at “forgetting” to look to see how much money I have and just assume I’m a bazillionaire that can buy Chipotle 85 times per week. I used to use Mint.com, but never really got into it. I’m not sure what I’ll use, but I’ll have to figure it out!

And finally, I’m hoping this will force me into going out to eat less as that’s where my true problems lie (in the waistline as well). I’m not one that spends a lot of money on clothes – hell, I still wear clothes from high school and college and I’m 27. It’s the damn food and socializing! Yes, that stuff is important, but it’s not necessary and if I don’t have the money, I can’t do it. Simple as that. If a friend really wants to see me, I’m sure they’d be happy to do a movie at home or something like that. I’m guessing I’m going to be spending a LOT of time at the gym keeping myself busy, but that’s okay.

So there’s a random story about my finances. If anything, I’m hoping that someone might read this and realize they’re not alone. I cried to the banker on the phone the other day about how embarrassed I was that I let myself get into credit card debt and she reminded me that I’m young, don’t have THAT much debt and at least I’m doing something about it. She told me most people go to her in a lot worse shape, so she thought it was pretty great of me to be taking care of it before it turned into a true problem.

Linking up with the beautiful Amanda for a Thinking Out Loud ramble this week.

How do you keep a budget? Any fancy new exciting way to do it that I’m missing out on? Also, if any of you find coupons for free Chipotle, please let me know … 😉

14 comments

  1. Katie says:

    Since I’m not underwriting and looking at people’s credit bureaus every day….I’ll say you’re probably okay to cancel your cards. Just make sure you pay back that bank loan perfectly, and it should be alright. If you do get another card, try to stay way below the max, so that you’re utilization per card remains low 🙂 You’re not alone, and you’ve got this!
    Katie recently posted…Scenes from Social MediaMy Profile

    • Jessie says:

      Thanks, Katie! I’ve never defaulted on a payment of any kind and I have pretty good credit, I just felt suffocated because of the interest with the credit cards.

  2. Amanda @ .running with spoons. says:

    I think it’s awesome that you’re taking charge of this, since debt can be one of the most stressful things to deal with. I’m actually terrified of it, which is why I’m in the camp that barely ever uses my credit card, and I definitely don’t buy things I know I can’t afford. The temporary enjoyment just isn’t worth the long time stress.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…. thinking out loud #156 .My Profile

    • Jessie says:

      That’s totally how I used to be and then I lost control of that thought. Again, I really don’t have much debt compared to a lot of people, but I could see myself starting to spiral and decided enough was enough. Thanks, Amanda!

  3. Megan says:

    It sounds like you’ve got a good plan! Those little things like the subscription boxes add up! I’m kind of the same way with using a credit card for little things. I didn’t get my first one until I was 22 and I got it for emergencies. But then I started using it for clothes, a computer, etc. The store cards are the worst though! They suck you in with all those perks but the interest rate just isn’t worth it unless you pay it off right away! Not having a credit card isn’t a bad thing. As far as I know, you’re still building credit by paying for things on time, right? Either way, it’s awesome that you’ve set these goals for yourself!
    Megan recently posted…hump day confessions!My Profile

    • Jessie says:

      Thanks, Megan! Those subscription boxes do add up! They’re fun, but soon you have three of them and it’s like $30 a month for random crap I really don’t need.

  4. Torry @ A World Without Wheat says:

    This is why I will not let myself have a credit card – I think I would use it all the time to shop and go out to eat (chipotle three nights in a row, sure!) I think its great what you are doing – keep us posted on how it is going for you!
    Torry @ A World Without Wheat recently posted…WIAW #4My Profile

  5. Liz says:

    I have an AMEX for Delta Skymiles and so does my husband, but he uses our credit cards for business expenses now so they rack up FAST (all reimbursed by his company, but still- we have to wait for each reimbursement check which I hate). But I have never, ever spent money without having it. I mean, except to buy my house. I technically could afford all the cars I bought (just mine and my husband’s- I don’t just own a million cars) with my savings. My mom always told me when we were younger not to buy stuff we can’t pay for and I never have. As for budgeting, I actually used to have a notebook I kept in my purse (a small one) and at the beginning of each month, I’d write all my bills down for that month. Then I would write my monthly goal: Groceries: $400, Gas: $300, Fun: $60, etc. So each week I’d break down what I could spend. I’d write EVERY expense down in my book and total it every Sunday night to see where I was. If I really wanted to spend more than $20 on a shirt, then I would. But then I knew I couldn’t go out to eat that week unless I could sacrifice my $20 the next week. It actually worked REALLY well. I wish I felt like doing that now, but with my husband too, there’s no way we’d keep up with it and make it beneficial. I used to be super strict with that method though.
    Liz recently posted…Paris: To Go or Not to Go?My Profile

  6. Lauren says:

    Girl, you are preaching to the choir. I recently started tracking my money in an excel spreadsheet and it has helped me immensely on seeing where I spend my money. It’s mostly on food. I have 3 credit cards now and they are the bane of my existence because I’m still paying off my Mexico vacation from May. Yet I still say I need a larger limit because mine is crap. I would definitely do a spreadsheet of some sort and you can categorize it however you need, I think I have like 12…

    If you find ways to get free chipotle, hook a sister up! 🙂
    Lauren recently posted…My Favorite Week According to my InstagramMy Profile

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