Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,
Spacefem
spacefem

credit card epilogue

Usually around this time I'm writing about my new years resolutions, and I will do that, but of all the things that happened last year I am really proud that we're not in credit card debt anymore. Last January, I totaled it up and realized we owed $8000 on credit cards, and the balances just went up and up every month. I had no idea how it'd happened. In most of my entries I write so much about being ashamed of it and not wanting to think about it. Maybe because I felt hopeless, and because I knew that I'd had plenty of Januaries where I said "this year, I'll pay off my balances every month!" but it never happened. So what would change this year, I wondered?

Something changed. We dug out, and here we are in January again, post-Christmas, and I just once again paid all statements off in full. Just like I have the past 4-5 months. No more interest.

I was even ashamed last year when I posted an entry about finding $90 a month in random auto-bills, subscriptions, and no-longer-free trial offers when I examined my charges. But now I'm proud of it and tell all my friends to watch out for that stuff! I conquered a systemic thing!

I did a lot of end-of-year totaling and found out we spent $9000 LESS on credit cards this year than we did last year. I can't even tell you what we spent all that on in 2018... just that I didn't miss it this year.

I realized that spending is the number you have to look at. I had always looked at balances on my statements. And the companies always make interest rate and minimum payment the biggest numbers. But the purchases this month tells you which way you're going, and that's what's important if you're trying to knock it out.

Here are some ways I'm different now than I was last year:
1) Marc and I have one credit card that we spend on, and one for auto-bills. The auto-bills card has a very short manageable statement so it's easy to catch weird stuff, and the balance is pretty much the same every month. It's not in our wallets. The spending card is for gas, car repairs, gifts, the very rare special occasion. But this way we can look in ONE place to see if we've been overspending.

2) The spending card is a chase card and with their app I can get a quick snapshot of my weekly spending. We have a chart on the fridge for tracking. $100-200 a week = happy face. $500 a week = that really "in pain" face (I think I got the faces from a medical chart graphic).

3) Both cards alert my phone when anything is charged to them.

4) I do not order anything online unless it's been loaded into my cart for 24 hours.

5) We pretty much stopped going out to restaurants.

6) I buy all my clothes used on ebay... I could write a whole entry about that. I will. another entry.

we still went on some fun vacations last year, and those were the months we couldn't pay the balance off the next month. but then we got back out because I know how to do it. we still got slammed with some expensive car repairs, and a disaster of a basement flood this year, but because I'm spending less I could build savings and use some of that to help. overall we're better. and I'm really proud of us.
Tags: finance
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