Around August of 2019, I realized I had used my 39th and 40th years to run up an unmanageable amount of credit card debt.
You see, the last time I did this, I ended up in a debt management plan through credit counseling that I paid off…I believe when I was 30? Those late 20s were some lean years, with very cheap rent but also piecing together multiple temp or other jobs together to pay the very cheap rent ($375, with utilities) as well as the debt payment (I wanna say that one was $700 but I’m not sure). I made it happen, because the thing is, if you miss a payment, all the agreements with your creditors can suddenly go away. And honestly, if you think about it, if that happens, you’re kinda fucked.
But a few years later, I was done. I was so stoked to pay it off.
And then my life kinda fell apart in 2017. My response? I ran up a bunch of debt and through other decisions I made, I found myself in 2019 going “I don’t think I can get out from under this.”
Back to credit counseling. New debt management plan set the payment at about $716/month, which ain’t nothin’. It was a hair shy of basically paying my rent twice (I get lucky with friends finding me cheap rent). I also couldn’t rely on credit cards anymore, since part of the plan is you have to basically not get new credit cards AND you can’t use the ones you had.
It also is usually set as a 5 year plan. It sucked to realize it would be until August 2024.
…and yet. I was proud of myself for tackling it head on. Part of that kinda credit debt is realizing you literally will never pay it off if you:
- keep thinking of credit cards as “money that can augment my actual income”
- pay only a bit over the minimum, because the interest rate is usually astronomically, comically high
I felt scared about the hit to my finances but also really glad I wasn’t ignoring it anymore. I also hated that it meant that I couldn’t splurge much – I knew I had to get used to the new normal of spending.
It was hard.
Soon thereafter, I found myself doing something most people do: I had to choose staying in instead of going out, because I couldn’t afford to pay for myself.
And the person I was closest to in my life at the time responded with something I’ll never forget:
Is it always going to be like this?
It’s hard to think of a time in my 40’s that I was angrier with another person than than that moment.1
Because yeah, for a while, it was going to fucking be like that.
Well, it’s now September 2024.2 I believe this month I’m going to finish paying it all off, nearly a year early.
Student loans (LOL) are kicking back in (LOL fucking politicians), and so it’s not that I’ll have paid off All of My Debt!
But I have to say: it’s definitely All the Debt that Worries Me.
I now have a job that means I can exist without financial worries, build savings, go to Spain, split the cost of a fancy king bed.
And yep: it feels awesome. I’m fucking stoked.