I can almost see 18 year old, broke, irresponsible, partying, college kid me opening my first credit card offer like I had just won the lottery. Wait..you mean to tell me you’re going to GIVE me access to $2,000, and in return, I only have to pay you a minimum balance of $25?! What?! Why are you so nice and how did I get so lucky?! I was so impressed with your timing and that it was almost like you really KNEW me and were there for me with a credit increase when I was at my lowest..what would I ever have done without you?! Now I didn’t have to worry about that new phone I wanted, that dinner out, that new outfit, etc. Then you even told your other credit card company friends, and they also wanted to give me credit cards?
Fast forward to 24 year old me, who didn’t end up getting her degree, and had spent the past 6 years racking up $15,000 in credit card debt. I kept spending and they kept increasing my limit (I’m starting to figure out at this point they weren’t doing this to be nice). I was paying their minimums and it wasn’t even enough to cover the interest and was affecting my credit. I remember the exact moment where I thought that bankruptcy was my only option and feeling so overwhelmed and thought I would never get out of the hole I had dug.
I was on my way to a job interview for my first job in the insurance industry. I literally had to use two different credit cards for gas in my gas guzzling Durango to make it to the interview (insert whole other soapbox on the car). I was so broke and my cards so maxed out that I could barely even afford to make it to the interview.
Luckily, I got the job that started a very rewarding career path for me. I also got introduced to Dave Ramsey Financial Peace through a coworker at that job, and this was a totally new concept to me. I just thought everyone lived this way and walked around with debt, and honestly had no idea that there was any other way. I read that last sentence over and over, because I fancy myself a semi-intelligent person and it just sounds so stupid..but it’s the truth and a reflection of me being a product of my environment (also for another day).
I then met my husband two weeks after that and we knew right away that we were going to get married. Unfortunately for him, that meant marrying a smart, pretty, hilarious woman..who just happened to have a lot of financial baggage. 🤷♀️ I’m not even going to discuss the $30kish of student loans because that’s for another day.
Apparently my brilliant personality won him over, and he decided to hang out in his moms basement with me for 18 months to help dig “us” out of that debt. Talk about sacrifice. But we made it work and paid all of that credit card debt off, got pregnant with our first human, and saved up a down payment for our first home.
I think back to that $15k once in a while and wonder..what if I had never opened that credit card offer. What if I was able to pay my student loans off sooner, or what if I could have put that in a 401k, or as more towards our first house. And you know what? I do have regrets, but I learned a very valuable lesson that I will carry with me and pass along to my kids. It changed the way I view money, and things and debt. Looking back, I was not living within my means, and because of that 18 months of sacrifice and a rough start to our financial future..I will NEVER carry a balance again. If I can’t afford it..then I don’t need it. Plain and simple. I haven’t carried a balance in over ten years and it turns out I am just fine. What are your thoughts on credit card debt and has it affected you negatively or positively during your financial journey?