Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Selfish Struggle

Being a grownup is tough. At least when you're a kid and you're told, "No, you can't have that," you pout for a little bit and move on with your life. As an adult, you have to make the decision. And live with it. Cue the internal thoughts:

Well, I don't need it but I really want it. I can't afford it right now, but I could put it on a credit card. Or a payment plan. Maybe I'll just save up and buy it. But do I really need it?

You get the idea. But I'm finally coming to a point in my life where I realize living with debt is just an accident waiting to happen. Because if I have some kind of major emergency, I am screwed. Even though I do have some money in savings, a 401K and a Roth IRA, I know it's just not enough.

In my 20s, I jumped from vehicle to vehicle and instead of reducing my debt, the trade-ins only added to it. I also had several credit cards, especially store cards like JCPenney and Kohl's. Now, in my 30s, my car is paid off and still running (thank you very much), my motorcycle is pretty close to being paid off and I can't wait to sink my teeth into that student loan I've been minimally paying on for 10 years. Oy.

Okay, so I still have credit cards. But just 2. With low interest rates. And I only run them up on vacation. But then I have to pay them back down. Which delays the motorcycle and student loan payoff. It's quite a pickle sometimes.

Okay, so I also still have a store card. It's a Target RedCard that I only applied for to get a great deal on a flat screen TV in January. But I had 6 months to pay it off before interest would accrue, and I did that, and now has a $0 balance. Except they recently started offering 5% off purchases when you use the card. Crap. At least I haven't used it. Yet. I know I'd be better off if I just got rid of credit cards, but I'm too scared something would happen and I wouldn't be able to pay for it.

I'll admit the sight of a new(er) car is tempting. I never understood why my dad kept buying old cars for me in my early driving years. Now I know. They were easy to pay off. And they ran for awhile. New clothes are also tempting, especially with that 15% discount they offer when you open a card with the store. Credit card purchases are tempting when I don't have the money or I'd like to keep a little cushion in my account.

But here's my real wish list of tempations. I want a Trek bicycle that costs nearly $400. I want Pmo to get a motorcycle or street legal dirt bike so we can ride together. That will probably cost at least $1000 or more. I want to buy Rock Band for Wii. I haven't even checked the price on that but I'm pretty sure it's in the hundreds. And considering how little I play the Wii now, it's probably not worth getting.

The point is, these things must wait. Or I will make no progress toward the debt I already owe. And isn't that the ultimate goal? Such a pickle. And a fun sort of game at the same time. I mean, what else would I be doing if I wasn't trying to figure out how to rob Peter to pay Paul all of the time?


Peter Dunn said...

Keep up the good work. Great post

Allan Morais said...

That's so true. It's the idea of gauging whether you can take on a purchase you want right now, or wait for a little more that's essential in balancing our finances. And as you've said, whether or not we made the right or wrong decision, we have to live with it. I'm glad you've taken up steps actively, so what happened to you in the past won't happen to you again. Balance and management are crucial to maintain our finances.

Paddon+Yorke Inc.