Money: My Best Frienemy.

5 Dec

This will be a very short post because…well, the show’s almost over and I’m going to see “Frozen” tonight after work.

Today was a big day for me. No, I didn’t get married or win the lottery or grow back my hair where it’s supposed to be growing, but something equally significant – or perhaps even more significant – happened today. Today, for the first time I can remember in my adult life, all of my bills – ALL of them – are paid, I was able to buy Christmas presents for my family and I have money left over in the bank. And I can afford to go to a movie after work!

OK, so that may not seem so important to many of you, but considering one year ago I was receiving phone calls every day – sometimes three or four times a day – from collection agencies for my credit card and student loan bills, this is a very big deal for me.

Last October I was unceremoniously let go from one of my two survival jobs in New York after two years of devoted, hard work. I was already living paycheck to paycheck, robbing Peter to pay Paul when it came to my bills – putting off paying my student loans so I could pay my credit cards – and between losing that job and the days I was out of work because of Hurricane Sandy, by November I was completely broke. I would get calls daily from agencies attempting to collect money and, in an attempt to be as responsible as I could be in that situation, I answered the phone and tried to explain to them why I was behind on my payments. Those phone calls usually resulted in me sobbing on the phone to a stranger who really didn’t give a shit because I was so humiliated and lost and feeling so, so helpless. I didn’t want to go to my parents for help because I was ashamed of myself and scared that they would judge me or scold me. I panicked every time the phone rang. I limited myself to one big meal a day. I started making lots of soups and stews in my Crock Pot, making those meals last for days at a time if I could.

I spoke to my therapist about my money troubles and the panic attacks I was having. She said it sounded to her as if I had just never been taught how to manage my money and that I was being too hard on myself for my ignorance.

I finally called a credit consolidation company to try to help get the credit card collectors off my back. They were able to reduce my monthly payments and put them on a set schedule that never changed so I wouldn’t have to deal with late fees anymore. They told me that I could have both cards paid off in 4 years and in the meantime improve my credit rating by working with them to pay my bills on time every month. I can’t have credit cards until this debt is paid off, but that’s probably not such a bad thing – if I don’t have the cash in the bank, I can’t afford to buy it. It’s forcing me to learn to manage my own money, and after a year, I’m seeing a significant dent in my credit card debt. In fact, I’ve saved enough money that I’m seriously considering making a large payment to pay off one of the cards and keep paying the current amount on the second card to pay it off quicker. I’ve never been in a position to be able to even consider that option.

I’ve also worked with my student loan providers to reduce my payment amounts to a reasonable figure based on my income. I’ve already used up my deferrals and forbearance options, so I have to pay or default. I’m very grateful that they were willing and able to work with me to make it feasible to pay them because defaulting is not an option.

So many of us have financial struggles and we keep them to ourselves out of shame or fear or pride. I wouldn’t even talk to my own family about my woes! Yes, it’s embarrassing to admit that I am not good at managing my own money – especially considering it is my job to manage someone else’s money – but I’m learning, folks. I’m learning and I’m succeeding, and that’s a great feeling.


One Response to “Money: My Best Frienemy.”


  1. I May Have Spoken Too Soon… | Confessions of a Merch Whore - December 11, 2013

    […] I wrote in my earlier post, I was in a very bad place financially when I took this tour. It has taken me nearly a year to pull […]

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