Nothing beats realizing you have $200 (before two more bills) in the bank and $4,500 in credit card debt.
I just signed in to my Mint account (if you don’t have one, get one!) for the first time in months. I’ve been avoiding this like I avoid stairs lately. I knew it was going to be bad. I held my breath and shut my eyes while my profile was loading.
This is what I was greeted with.
I’ve spent $3,000 more than I made in the past four-ish months. How does that even happen? (And, yes, my glamorous job pays so well, doesn’t it?)
I said in some post awhile ago that I was going to be using this blog to sort my thoughts and organize my attempts to get my life together, not just for my weight loss. I never did that. I’m starting now. I have an appointment with this blog every Friday morning to talk about getting my finances straight and to get out of debt. Credit card debt, at least.
This is my plan.
1. Don’t need no Starbucks.
I’ve spent almost $100 this month on coffee. That’s disgusting. I have $10ish left on my gift card and when that’s gone, I’m done, save for either a Tall tea or a Tall black coffee on Sundays during book club. I feel bad sitting there and not buying anything. “Starbucks,” in this instance, also means fast food. I don’t need it and I certainly can’t afford it. I haven’t had any fast food for two weeks now. I don’t miss it. I was spending up to 85% of my after-bills money on food at one point. That is sickening.
2. No more credit cards.
I have this ridiculous habit of pulling out my credit card to pay for stupid things like a bottle of water or whatever before work. Even when I have money on my debit card. I am too used to this. I accidentally washed and ruined one of my credit cards about a month ago. The balance was about $200 or so on it. I should have paid it off. Instead, I ran up $1,000 on Amazon because it’s the card I still have on file. I even have a package on the way today because I got it in my head that I can buy whatever I want when I want it and I’ll just pay it back later. There’s a 29% APR on that card. I’m a moron. No more credit cards. This is also going to mean having to cancel a lot of things that I have recurring payments set up for. Like Weight Watchers.
3. Cash only.
I never have cash. Ever. The last time I regularly had cash on me was when I worked at Starbucks and got tips. Starting next Friday, I am only leaving enough money in my bank to cover my bills. Everything else will be in cash and kept in budget envelopes. I caption Til Debt Do Us Part on a somewhat regular basis. If you haven’t watched it, it’s on CNBC. Get on that. And watch the captions. They’re probably my handiwork. Anyway. Gail is my girl. She puts everyone on a very strict cash-only budget. Why? Because she’s smart. And because people like the ones on the show (people like me) cannot be trusted with plastic. This is my new life. And speaking of budgets…
I swear to God I make a budget every other day, but I never stick with it. I think the problem is that I keep all of my money in the bank and never have the cash on hand. This will not be a problem anymore. I will have a budget made and in place by my next pay day (Friday) and will have the money out of the bank by Saturday. I will be using envelopes instead of Gail’s magic jars, just because it’s easier to transport them. And I don’t have jars. Details of said budget (including debt repayment) will be laid out next Friday.
5. Pay myself.
The most I’ve ever had in my savings account was $250. This was last month. I worked a ton of overtime and saved up enough to make up for the hours I didn’t have vacation time for when I went to Illinois. Obviously, this money is no longer in my savings. I currently have $25 in my one savings account and another $25 in my Ally savings account. From now on, at least 10% of my pay (~$60) goes directly to savings before anything else.
So. There it is. I’m determined to get my debt down by at least $1,000 by January and to stop living like I’m loaded. Feel free to join me.
Have you managed to get yourself out of a lot of debt? Do you have any tips for me?