This past week, I did my first ever series on savings. It was a 3-part live stream that I did on Facebook. Amidst all my nervousness and confusion about how Facebook Live worked, I ended up feeling very exhilarated by the end of each show. I felt a great sense of accomplishment in my efforts to reach women like myself and inspire them to save for their dreams. But doing the series also brought back memories of years ago when I was in financial distress.
Many, many years ago, I was overwhelmed with credit card debt. I owed a few thousand. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you owe it and have to pay it all back that’s when it becomes clear how much it really is. It ALWAYS feels like too much. Am I right? Especially when you’re not earning that much (which was the case at the time).
I vividly remember being able to pay only the minimum on my cards. At the time, I had so many cards that that was all I could manage. And because I had so many cards, trying to make multiple payments on time for all of them felt really challenging. I always did pay on time. But what I owed NEVER seemed to go down.
Since then, I’ve made a couple of vital mind shifts which have helped me to remain free of credit card debt to this day. They have made all the difference for me since those days.
Back then, every retail store I shopped in or major credit card company offered me credit (I‘m always disturbed at how credit issuers do this with apparently no forethought for the card holder incurring lots of debt. But then again, maybe that’s the plan). For a while, I signed up for all those cards. I was giddy about having so many credit options. But I hadn’t taken the time to understand how to use credit to my advantage and avoid the choke-hold of debt.
One year, I spent around $1,300 on Christmas gifts for my family and friends with my Spiegel (remember them?) credit line. I wanted to “show” my loved ones how much I appreciated them. Imagine my surprise when some of my friends gave me gifts that didn’t cost nearly as much as what I'd spent. And never mind that the Spiegel items were all overpriced to begin with (but I bought them because I had credit there). And on top of all that, I now had lots of credit card debt to pay off.
All of these behaviors now seem like foreign concepts to me.
Today, I can count the number of credit cards I have on one hand.
I make sure to pay the balance in full each month. Before even charging, I make sure I have/will have the money available to cover the charge.
Needless to say, I no longer own any store credit cards. Nope. Not one. I realize that I don’t have any need for those. Plus, the interest rate is crazy!
And I certainly don’t charge $1,300 in gifts anymore. My family has come up with alternate ways to celebrate the holidays – ways that don’t require excessive spending for any of us. Anything I DO buy is purchased well in advance and paid off right away.
Looking back, I realize how far I’ve come. Sometimes I forget this because my daily habits have changed so much. I’m now focused and on top of my finances. I forget the HUGE learning curves that I’ve had along the way to owning my own finances.
Remembering this helps me to better serve my clients based on where they’re at. But most of all, I hope that it shows what is truly possible for any of us.
About Yolanda Ransom
Yolanda Ransom is a certified Financial Coach who empowers her clients to confidently master new money management skills, resulting in improved finances and financial stability. She is the CEO of Yolanda Ransom Consulting and provides personal coaching and financial literacy training to individuals and groups. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and at her website yolandaransom.com.