Tired of Credit Card Debt – A Bad Love Story – part 1

[This is the first of a three part series where I’m outlining for y’all the details of my unhealthiest relationship – my relationship with my credit card debt!]

As I was updating my latest net worth, I couldn’t help but notice that my credit card debt was growing.

This has got to be one of the most frustrating things ever. It feels like no matter how many times I’ve gotten rid of it, the debt just creeps back into my life. Just like a bad relationship. Here’s how my bad love story with credit card debt would go.

Chapter 1: How We Met

I was a sales associate at the local Kohl’s store one summer and I would get a bonus for every credit card that I got someone to sign up for. So, naturally, I applied for a store credit card myself. Ever since that first approval, I was hooked. The idea that I could buy whatever I wanted without actually having the money right away was so attractive to me. The only thing I had to worry about was making sure I could afford the measly monthly payments.

Chapter 2: Immediate Infatuation

As any typical credit card debt story goes, once you apply for one, it’s hard not to apply for others. By the time I graduated college in 2010, I had a total of 5 different credit cards and all of them were close to maxing out.

A lot of my possessions were probably bought with my credit cards. Half my shoe collection and probably half of my closet were all bought on credit. The second I wanted a new dress or if I wanted to splurge on a mani-pedi, I would check my account balances. If there was enough room on one of my cards, I would swipe away. If I wanted it, my credit bought it. I was obsessed with things, with experiences, and my credit made it all happen.

Chapter 3: Second Thoughts

What was my turning point? Well, let’s just say that there’s no feeling quite like getting your credit cards rejected at the register. I remember the first time it happened, and the second, third, and fourth times came shortly afterwards. I knew I had to stop the cycle of maxing out my cards, paying just enough to get by, only to max them out again. It was tiring, embarrassing, and I was sick of it.

I knew that I had to take control of my debt because I was sick of it controlling me. So I started reading some personal finance blogs, mostly The Simple Dollar and Get Rich Slowly at the time. I started hearing about finance gurus like Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey. Though everyone’s methods and techniques regarding personal finance were different, there was one common idea uniting them all: spend less than you earn. So I started cutting back, I started small side hustles, and I knocked out my credit card debt back in January 2012.

Stay tuned next week for part 2 of Tired of Credit Card Debt – A Bad Love Story!

How did your relationship with debt start?

AMDG,
Lisa

10 Comments

  1. Jason @ Phroogal June 9, 2014

    My first experience was at the Rutgers campus applying to get a frisbee. It cost me thousands of dollars for that frisbee. I can’t recall what other item I bought with that credit card either.
    Jason @ Phroogal recently posted…The “Aha Moment” That Started It AllMy Profile

    Reply
    • Lisa E. June 17, 2014

      Ah, the sign up freebies. That’s how they get you!

      Reply
  2. Holly@ClubThrifty June 9, 2014

    Ugh! This sounds eerily familiar! I got into cc debt when I was younger as well. It took me a long time to change my habits =/
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Guilty Pleasures: What’s Your Budget Buster?My Profile

    Reply
    • Lisa E. June 17, 2014

      I hope this is the last time I have to change my habits haha

      Reply
  3. The beginning of your story sounds a like mine, Lisa. I remember using a credit card to put $9 of gas into my car because that’s how much was available on the card. Then I took out another card and put a little more in the tank. If that’s not a sign of credit problems….
    Travis @debtchronicles recently posted…No Thanks, DirectTV, You Know Where You Can Stick Your High Pressure Sales ActMy Profile

    Reply
    • Lisa E. June 17, 2014

      Omg, I hate being RIGHT at the limit of my credit cards! So nerve wracking!

      Reply
  4. Melanie@Dear Debt June 7, 2014

    My relationship with debt started at age 17, when I started college. My love of education and my desire to learn, got me into debt. I really loved hearing your story. Debt can be so tempting! I’d love it if you wrote a dear debt letter! 🙂
    Melanie@Dear Debt recently posted…Spending Money on What Really MattersMy Profile

    Reply
    • Lisa E. June 17, 2014

      I would love to write a dear debt letter! I’ll get in contact with ya 🙂

      Reply
  5. the spunky banker. June 7, 2014

    Isn’t it funny how almost everyone can remember their first credit card like it was yesterday? I wish really wish I could do some time travel and tell myself “hey girl, you’re gonna get yourself in trouble with that thing so you should just get rid of it now.”

    Oh well! Everything happens for a reason, right?
    Can’t wait to read Part 2!
    the spunky banker. recently posted…relapse.My Profile

    Reply
    • Lisa E. June 17, 2014

      I wish I could time travel, too! I would slap the card out of my hands! Haha

      Reply

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