So a few years ago I lost a significant income stream. Nothing insane, a few hundred dollars a month though. Enough to feel it. When you’re paycheck to paycheck like me a few hundred bucks is the difference between “got it covered” and “some room to have fun”. That’s three or four fancy nights out a month. Or over the course of a year a computer upgrade (both my partner and I work intensively on computers and need them to do our jobs) and a few vacations. You know more or less the difference between lower middle class and middle class.
But I lost this income stream and I tried very hard not to change my lifestyle. There was some emotional involvement here I will admit. But in reality I was in the “bases covered, mostly” group and desperately wanted to remain in “room to have fun”. But the party times; and eventually appliance, home, or pet emergencies; all came out of the fun bucket – my credit card. And before I knew it it had kinda gotten out of control.
When I had first crawled back out into the financial world after my long “unbanked” period (love this term), my credit card was a wedge into the world I hammered at. I would pay it off religiously each month. I snowballed my other debt down. I just put stuff on the card, paid off as much as I could per paycheck aside from rent and recurring. Saw the calendar alert, made the transfers. And it worked great! So why not this time?
Well here are the facts – I was still spending more than I made; recurring expenses had crept up and I hadn’t updated my ‘mental ledger’; emergencies happen whether you’re making good financial decisions or not; hell, sometimes the calendar alert went off and I didn’t feel like it. Pick your reason, they’re all part of the stew.
Here’s another fact – I knew my labor was being undervalued. So I got a few raises (by hook and crook) and finally got on top of the rest of it. I trimmed some expenses, cut back on some niceties. I got all my bills coming out of my checking, my emergency fund back up. I knew how much I could pay into my debt each pay period and I did it. The calendar alert went off and I made the transfers.
And almost excruciatingly slowly the snowball started to work. This year has been hard. Brutally so, watching those numbers slowly ebb down. And now I’m in the last bits of it. It’s not done with quite but on the horizon (two months or so) and it is INFURIATING. I wish I could go to sleep for two months while this resolves itself. I’m on the edge of taking all the loose change to the coinstar machine and shit to shove this fucking thing along. Do you have any idea how much debt I’d go into to stop feeling like I had this debt?