Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Let's talk about money...

And the fact that I don't have much.

Seriously, do I revisit this often enough on this blog? If I am not talking about dieting, I am talking about my money woes.

Here's the deal. I didn't transition well from the in-college-and-being-supported-by-my-parents time of my life and the out-of-college-and-mostly-on-my-own time of my life. I didn't get the fact that I was earning a paycheck that had to pay for all of my essentials (rent, bills, car expenses, food, and...um...beer) before it got to the non-essentials (shoes, shoes, a purse here and there, and also shoes). I came out of college with a teaching degree, but except for one year of teaching, I didn't use that so much. Instead, I went to work in the not-for-profit world. And that would be not for my profit or anyone else's...

At my first job, I believe I made about $22,000 per year. After paying all the essentials, I had very little money. However, I had a trusty Visa card, and I didn't have a good grasp of the long-term consequences of credit card debt, and I used that card pretty regularly. This continued through slightly better paying not-for-profit jobs right on through to my stint in nursing school, where I worked part-time for about $10.50 per hour as an aide. During this entire time, I could not afford a lifestyle like that I was living (and it wasn't even that extravagant), but my credit cards could!

Now, I am making a decent amount of money, working as a nurse. And if you include the times that I work for bonus or do overtime, that is even more decent money. However, I have a load of debt upon my back and have continued to make errors on my road to financial freedom. And oh, what a long road it will be.

The first thing I have done wrong is I have kept using my credit cards. A few weeks ago, I actually shredded my highest-interest card, which happens to have the biggest balance. Therefore, the use of said card is over, although the paying it off has just begun.

The second thing I did wrong was to overpay on my cards. I would throw a low of extra money at the cards each month. However, the whole reason I was using the cards was because I didn't have enough money to buy what I wanted to buy. Therefore, I would pay a large amount toward the card, but then I would charge that same amount, or more, thereby compounding the problem. I know that you should pay more than your minimum balance each month...but you also have to balance this with the money you have to live on.

Quite honestly, in the New Year, Bill and I may look into tapping into some of our home equity to pay down our debt. However, he has asked me to continue soldiering through for now, until we can get our taxes done and see where things stand. Part of me just wants to take that easy way out already. The payment on a home equity loan would not equal anything near what he and I pay to credit card companies each month. However, he is the one who bought this house and built this equity, and I guess I have to respect that.

On the plus side, this will be my first 100% cash Christmas ever. I have had to budget and balance and think about where each dollar is going. But it feels good to know that my Christmas spending will not add to my debt. And if those boots I want have to stay on my wish list for a little bit longer, then so be it...

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