(This was the best karate chop I could give. Matt thought it could’ve been better.)
I always said when it came to credit cards, I would never get myself into any debt. I didn’t want to end up like my Dad did and have terrible credit; he often reminded me of this to not end up in his shoes. I opened my first card when I was 18 and freshly graduated from high school, just so I could start building credit for the future. I was really good about charging it for small things, and then immediately paying the card off. I wasn’t going to get into any debt, no-sirree, no way, Jose. Well of course that didn’t happen, why? Because life happened.
I moved to Seattle and into an apartment with Matt, and I obviously didn’t have a job. Matt was making absolute crap where he was working, and of course I knew I needed to find a job so we could enjoy our apartment and not live in a cardboard box. I searched daily for a job, had a few interviews here and there, but had a difficult time finding something. It took me 2 months to finally get a job as a barista at a coffee shop. Within those 2 months of unemployment, Matt and I wracked up some credit cards debt while trying to keep ourselves financially afloat. I had around $3,500 in debt between two AMEX cards, Matt with around $3,000. It was scary but I figured if I just made minimum payments, I could manage that and not worry about how long it was going to actually take me to get rid of the debt. I chose to stay ignorant and tried not to think about it.
Throughout the years, I had a few store credit cards here and there, but always paid them off in full because I had these two American Express cards dangling over my head. I never had enough money though to put more than around the minimum payment towards my cards every month. Though I was really on top of making my payments, it still sucked to know I was paying an absurd amount of interest on these cards and I couldn’t do a thing about it.
I eventually transferred one of the AMEX balances over to a Chase card, because they offered 0% interest on transferred balances for a year. I figured I could start paying $100 a month and hopefully chip away at the card. Though I made progress through the 5 years of living out here and making minimum payments, I still owed over $2,200 as of last week. Matt by this point had already paid off his card in full, as we decided that his was first to go due an insane interest rate.
This past weekend, we started discussing money and cards and we came to the decision that we should just pay off my cards in full. All $2,200+ of it. We could afford it, it would save us over $150 monthly in payments (and a lot more in the long run), and it was time to get rid of them.
It was time to get rid of the debt that was sitting over my head for years upon years. The debt I created when I was at a time in my life where I had no experience, I was in a brand new city, trying to figure out what exactly I was going to do for work. Being able to pay off these cards means more than just saving ourselves money. It means I am finally at a place in my life that I am able to afford to be able to get rid of these things hanging over my head, from a time in my life where Matt and I were really struggling. To be able to finally say goodbye to that, to some of the most difficult few months of my life (rejections got old quickly, especially for simple jobs, so it was a pretty defeating experience and gave my self-esteem a swift punch in the face), and to finally feel free from my very own debt… It’s one of the best satisfying thing I’ve done in a long time… and I feel so grown up, too!
So in the past few months, I’ve gotten myself free of credit card debt and I’ve gotten all of my dental work done (that’s something that was hanging over my head for 6 years, another entry for another day for sure). It’s been pretty awesome to be living an overall healthier lifestyle. To finally take steps in the right direction and start to be proactive about lifting these weights off of my shoulder, even if it seems minor like going to the dentist, is actually pretty awesome and I feel like I’m kicking ass and taking names.