And by “Your”, I mean “MINE”.
The other day I got an email that my credit card bill was due soon. I didn’t think much of it because I have autopay set up for every bill I can – my memory has gotten bad lately, and I hate forgetting a bill and having to pay a penalty. That never used to happen to me, but it happened twice in the span of a few months, so autopay seemed safest.
For some reason, my credit card bill stuck in my head. I don’t check that account much so I figured I should, just to make sure my identity hadn’t been stolen.
When I logged in, it sure looked like my identity had been stolen! The total was way more than I thought it would be. I knew I hadn’t spent that much money! I started going through the charges and adding them up by hand.
They were all mine.
It was a huge wake up call. I’ve always been proud of not being a shopaholic, and not needing much money beyond basic bills every month. And yes, some bills were on this credit card, but not the big ones. Not the house payment or my kid’s preschool tuition. Which means my expenses every month were basically doubled.
I like reading numbers on financial blogs to get an idea of where the person is compared to me. But sharing my own numbers… oh god, that’s embarrassing! But ok… basically I was putting $1000-$1600 on my credit card every month. My house payment and my kid’s school is about $1100 every month.
My heart stopped just typing that out.
If you asked me how much I spent every month, outside of bills, I would have guessed about $600. So checking my statements over the past year was really humiliating.
I don’t think it’s just the act of using a credit card vs cash – seeing the money leave your hand, etc. I’ve used cards ever since I got a debit card to fill the gas tank of my parents’ car when I borrowed it as a teenager. I’ve managed my spending on cards before. Which kind of explains why this was such a shock to me.
I know things are different now. I have a kid. I have a house. I need more things than I did as a single woman living in an apartment. My husband was a shopaholic, and sometimes I got swept along and bought things on a whim. I think I’ve helped him change, and honestly – I don’t go shopping much on my own. So without him around, I probably won’t shop much, which means less impulse buying. Unless it’s food… yum.
Along with the Year of Living Minimally, I’m going to start really watching my finances. I’m used to having savings, and knowing I have enough money to cushion me, to let me splurge a little bit if I wanted. But that doesn’t matter now. I need my nest egg to make sure my son will always be cared for. I don’t want to put us in a bad situation we can’t climb out of, financially. I am going to write down what my bills will be each month. I am going to give myself a small cushion for things that come up – all of my immediate family’s birthdays are in May, my son’s is in June, July is prime vacation month, etc etc. I know things will come up and I will have to roll with the punches. But I am going to restrict myself and watch my spending and try to cut it in half – at least.
I am tired of feeling like I’m just throwing money away, so here I go!