I’ve found myself in a bind many of times and have had to make the decision to take out and swipe the credit card. As soon as the wallet comes out, I’d get worried. Would I be able to pay this off before the next billing cycle? Do I really want to use this card for this thing right now? These are the questions that instantly run through my head. I’ve learned that now, I need to take those questions more seriously.
As of my writing this, I have about $14,000 of consumer debt. To me, this includes my credit cards and car loans. I include my car loans in here because I don’t currently own any car that appreciates in value. I have 3 credit cards and 1 car loan at the moment, and that pains me to say because I think that’s too much. Had I been patient with more self awareness a few years ago, I believe I would not have all this debt, but as the old saying goes, hindsight is always 20/20.
My first credit card was through Amazon as a Prime member. I was in college at the time and thought I could benefit from the savings, credit history building, and reward points. The first time I remember wondering if I should use my credit card for a payment was for tuition. I had to prepay for classes and didn’t have enough money to cover the semester, so I swiped the credit card. Luckily, I was able to pay off the balance by the end of the year. I was hit with late fees and balance charges, so I made it a point to understand interest rates, statement cycles and all other pertinent credit card lingo. Even though I came to a good understanding on these, I was still never liquid enough to cover an emergency when the time came. This cycle repeated itself for a few years until I doubled down on consumer debt reduction and gained more self awareness.
After college, I had a fascination with cars for some reason. I ended up buying a car on Ebay even after all the research on said car warned me. I thought it was a deal I couldn’t pass up so I used PayPal credit to get the car. Needless to say, the car had way too many problems, so I sold it at a loss, and I’m still paying it off 3 years later. When I got my house, there was some initial work that had to be done but I didn’t have any backup cash so it went on the cards. Going on trips and night outings with friends went on the card. There’s been actual emergencies that the cards have saved me from like when I didn’t have any cash or a checking account balance because I was waiting for the next paycheck. I was lucky and blessed that the cards were able to bail me out with enough to get food and gas in those times. These types of emergencies were what I was planning on when I applied for the cards in the first place.
Not having this amount of debt right now would allow me to make extra payments on my student loans. I could have a bigger me fund and I'd be in a more secure financial place to start real estate investing. For now, I’ve learned my lesson from this debt and working my hardest to eliminate it as soon as possible. I’ve got many things to do and they are an annoyance that keeps lingering and taking my attention away from what’s more important.
What has your consumer debt taught you?