I’m unabashedly pro-cash. I’ve partnered with sponsor My Job Chart to tell my story about credit cards and debt:
It’s been six years since we stopped using credit cards. I don’t miss it at all. I really don’t miss paying a big bill at the end of the month. I really, really don’t miss worrying about being late to pay, usually because I just forgot.
Out of sight, out of mind. That was money for me.
I’d always been a “frugal” person, so it’s weird that I got “drunk” on credit. But, I did. Six years of financial sobriety has been very, very good. Our marriage is less stressed; I’m less stressed. We enjoy our purchases more because they are actually paid for.
Life is so very, very different, I can’t imagine that we lived the way we did.
In case you missed our GOOD (Get Out Of Debt) story, here it is again:
Back in May of 2007 after a substantial season of unemployment, my husband and I faced the cold hard truth that we were living beyond our means. Sure, we paid off the credit card every month, but that month and a half of no work left us with no resources. We’d used all our savings and found ourselves saddled with three mortgages (two on our home, one on a rental property), a car loan, and several credit cards carrying balances. We also had no plan for changing our habits.
We spent more than we made. Yet, credit cards and loans allowed us to do so without any real consequences.
Those around us kind of shrugged it off. They didn’t think it was a big deal. Thankfully, God convicted us that it was.
Getting Out of Debt
Over the following year and a half, we paid off $18,000 of consumer debt. It was pretty depressing, especially when there were so many things we wanted to buy and do. Instead,
- We stopped using credit cards.
- We wrote a budget every month, giving every penny a name.
- We listened to the Dave Ramsey podcast to hear stories of failure and success and be reminded of what was important.
- We audited our expenses and cut everything that could possibly be cut. We ate LOTS of rice and beans.
- We sold lots of things that we didn’t need and took side jobs in order to increase our income.
- We took the long view that the end result of being financially free would justify any cuts and sacrifices we made along the way.
- We focused on experiences over things.
- We spent more time together as a family.
- We learned to talk about money in a less stressed way.
- We became happier in many, many ways.
Today we live without credit cards and only buy what we can pay for outright. We have an emergency fund. We plan for purchases. We have savings.
We learned the hard way. And we have the frequent flyer miles to prove it. We started down the path to debt, enticed by the rewards promised by American Distress. All those miles we gained? We’ve used them once and it was a disaster of a plane ride.
Our kids learned with us as we went on a rice and beans diet to pay off our debts and “act our wage”. They know first hand that spending more than you make is really not worth it. And we’re working to make them mindful of money.
The statistics about Americans and money are rather sobering:
I’m intent on my kids’ knowing the value of the dollar, working for what they want, and be responsible for their expenses. Our kids are not going to learn fiscal responsibility unless we teach it to them. The culture is bent toward credit — in many places kids even pay for their school lunches with plastic. We, the people, are the only ones to set it straight. And it starts in our own homes.
My Job Chart is a free, easy to use, online chore chart and reward system for organizing and motivating your kids to learn first hand how to save, share and spend. Listen to Dennis Miller chat about MyJobChart and being Drunk on Credit.
While I realize that some folks feel more comfortable using a credit card and paying it off each month, it’s just something we no longer feel comfortable with. Yeah, we’re weird. But, you knew that already, right?
This is Frugal Friday. In an effort to make these weekly financial discussions more interactive, I’m no longer posting a link-up. Feel free to leave a link in the comments. But better yet, chat with us on today’s topic.
Have you said NO to credit and debt?
Tell us your get-out-of-debt story.