Today’s post is from Megan at Megan and Eggs (love that!). She is here to tell us about how she changed from splurging to living on a budget.
I graduated from college with very little debt. I had just paid off my car (a four-year loan in two and a half years). I was working a retail job and just got a promotion into a part-time manager role. I was working a lot, saving a lot and living at home with my parents. I was planning on moving across the country to Los Angeles so I knew I had a lot to save for.
When I moved in June of 2010, I was in the habit of paying of my credit cards in full each month, however I had never paid for rent, groceries, or I am a little ashamed to say, gas for my car. I was hit hard by reality and how much I would have to spend on things, even after my promotion to full-time. So I charged almost all extras. I figured, I’d pay it off eventually. I charged everything from my new couch and bed to dinners and drinks with friends.
The numbers kept going up and I never really thought it was a problem, until the minimum payments started getting higher and higher. I was living alone at the time so I was absolutely fine when I canceled my TV and internet. I paid more attention to how often I was filling my car, and stopped going out as often or shopping as much.
I started doing better, and paying off more than the minimum payment on my three credit cards until I moved in with two of my friends (one who later became my boyfriend).
We moved into a 2300 square foot, three bedroom, three bath, way too big house, that ended up costing a fortune to cool during the 100 degree, San Fernando Valley summers. Another thing that I had to pitch in for was cable and internet. Sure, I could have said no I don’t want to participate and not used the TV or internet but let’s be real, when it’s there, I am going to use it.
It seemed like every time I started to get ahead, I would fall back down.
I am still not in a great place, but I am very aware of the financial spot that I am in. I am now able to make smarter decisions and say no to weekly dinners with friends or instead of going out for drinks, suggesting a night in. My boyfriend and I have since moved into a small one bedroom apartment where it is much easier to control the utilities, although his love for television ensures we will forever be paying into that.
The key is spending less than you make, which can be hard when 40% of what you take home each month is going toward your credit card bills that are full of old experiences and material possessions that don’t matter anymore. I’ve come to realize that I can’t lower my bills anymore, and instead I need to make more by hustling more and working more. I can’t change the past but I can work hard to get rid of the past mistakes on my credit cards.
Almost a year ago I stumbled upon the PF blogging community and began reading. I was hooked when I saw that there are a ton of people in the same boat I am in. They charged too much on their credit cards, or went to a fancy pants college, or just simply didn’t make enough for their spending habits. But almost all of them have dedicated their spare time to working to pay off their debt, which is something that I have started to do too. The motivation of others, and realizing that I am not the only one, has really pushed me to get my life vest and jump off the debt boat. Right now I am floating but soon I will reach the land of debt freedom!
Have you ever been sucker punched by reality like Megan was?
Megan Oliver is a foodie with a journalism degree and she is working to marry her two favorite interests. You can follow her debt disasters and cooking triumphs at Megan and Eggs.