Credit seemed to be a wonderful thing and I used to be able to manage it just fine. I paid off my credit card bills in full every month and never accrued any interest on my purchases because I simply didn’t believe in paying more than I had already paid for whatever I bought using my credit card. I paid off my vehicle loans early based on paying extra toward the principal owed each month and life was good.
Then it happened. Technology. The new MacBook Pro. The iPad Pro. Adobe Illustrator. The iPhone. The iPod. The iPod Touch. None of these things were bad in and of themselves, but I slowly slipped into that trap of not paying off my credit cards in full every month…and downhill it went. Sky-high interest rates, transfer fees, personal loans, moving money around, robbing Peter to pay Paul… Yes, and more credit cards. More and more offers. Higher and higher credit limits. And the feeling of unease in the back of my mind each time I used plastic, but I used it anyway. Then there are the ads – 40% off! You start looking at what percentage off you get instead of the money you’re still spending using credit. Things spiral ever out of control and one day, you look at your finances and realize that you’re so far into debt that you’re living paycheck to paycheck over credit card minimums! And you can’t buy the climbing gear you need.
That’s it. I got to that point, and I decided, fine, no more credit cards unless I have to. Gas up the truck with a credit card and that’s it. Other than that, it’s cash only. If I don’t have enough cash, then I don’t get to buy it. There’s a lot of things I can’t buy right now, but that’s okay. I dug the hole, now I just have to fill it in a little at a time, managing my resources carefully, and it’ll all work out.
I tell you this because I’m trying to warn you. Don’t fall into these traps! Marketing and advertising are businesses. The people putting the ads out there are good at what they do! They know how to hook you, how to keep you hooked, and ultimately, to ruin you if you’re not paying attention! And they don’t even care because they’re just doing their jobs, and doing them well enough to fool you into thinking you have all the money in the world! Well, let me tell you, you don’t. Okay? You just don’t. Credit is a trap. There’s a place for it, and that’s emergencies. Stick with cash whenever you can, and don’t focus on the sale, but instead on how much you’re still shelling out for whatever it is you think you have to have! You probably don’t even need it.
Need is the key word. What do we really need? Not much. As a climber, I need my gear. Gear wears out and I need to be able to replace what wears out. That’s about the extent of my needs. Rent, utilities, food, transportation, fuel, climbing gear, and (here in Montana), a climbing gym membership.
So I’m going to unload some stuff. Stuff that I don’t need. I’m going to list it on Craigslist and see what happens. I’ve never used Craigslist before, so it’ll be a new experience, and hopefully I can pay down some debts with what I make off of the stuff that is in mint condition that I just don’t need! To be continued…