This past week I was on vacation in Florida with my sister (who is also my roommate) and we got into a conversation about our goals. Somehow that conversation led to the topic of my credit card debt. Over the past month, I had come to realize my debt was close to $9000 but hadn’t told anyone that it had gotten that bad. Her reaction to that fact me realize that it was really bad and I had no choice but to face the reality and pay it off. Until now, I had lived in the mindset that I “would pay it off eventually”. Someday I would have a higher paying job or meet a wealthy husband and it would just go away. But the reality is I can’t rely on the future, but I can take control to make it happen on my own.
I got my first credit card after college, when I moved out into an apartment in Brookline, Ma, an area of Boston heavily populated with recent college grads and an “extension of college” mentality. Living on $28,000 a year, you can imagine how little was left over after rent and car payments. I did not sit at home on the weekends either, or on week days and enjoyed quite the social life going out 2-4 nights each week. When I ran out of money, it went on my credit card. At some point I did move back home and started making a dent, but during the recession in 2008 I was laid off.
In January 2009 I moved to New York City. Rent doubled, I hadn’t paid off my credit cards and I wanted to immerse myself in the lifestyle of NYC. After four years of living here the lifestyle is finally catching up. I’ve enjoyed going out for drinks multiple times a week and on weekends and Sunday Funday brunches, escaping the city every weekend during the summer, and shopping whenever I felt like my closet needed a refresh.
Over the past year I’ve calculated spending about $5000 on the 11 weddings, 9 bachelorette parties and 3 bridesmaid invitations I’ve accepted, some of which I’m still paying for.
After turning 30 about two weeks ago, I’m realizing that all of this is getting in the way of what I really want: Living in my own place, owning my own place, buying nice handbags, crossing travel destinations off my bucket list, and treating my parents to dinner instead of them treating me. But none of this is going to happen if I don’t make some sacrifices.
I’ve found inspiration from some personal finance blogs detailing the success stories of people who get out of debt. I’m hoping this blog can do the same for others as I look to pay down my debt in the next 12 months.