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<$Monday, July 16, 2007$>
This Is Your Life On Consumer Debt
As mentioned previously, the husband and I are searching for a home that's closer to my work, and we're still having no luck. Our hunt for a rental house or duplex has been so dismal that we've decided to expand our search to townhouses, four-plexes, and even apartments, if all else fails (we've both had scary fire-related experiences in previous apartments, so we're aiming to share walls/floors/ceilings with as few neighbors as possible; neither of us is too keen on trusting the common sense and fire-safety skills of strangers to keep from destroying everything we own or, y'know, killing us in our sleep). Even so, our hearts' desire is to find a house. More accurately, our hearts' desire is to BUY a house, but with our consumer debt being what it is, that's just not possible right now, and won't be for several more years.

That's just one of the things we can't have because of our debt. I'm not whinging here; insert clichéd idiom about lying in made beds. We're not victims of anyone or anything other than our own poor impulse control and lack of wisdom and foresight (I'm sure my husband would appreciate it muchly if I would point out that by "our" I mostly mean "my," seeing as how I racked up the majority of our debt all by myself before he ever even entered the picture). My intent is to share this as a cautionary tale to anyone who might be thinking it's not such a big deal to carry a credit card balance (or multiple balances, as the case may be).

Having said that, I should also cop to the fact that this post's inception was a big ol' whine-fest, held in the midst of a pity party, hosted by yours truly, where the guest of honor was Sulky McPoutsalot. After a weekend spent crunching numbers and figuring out that no, we can't afford a house right now, and no, we can't afford a vacation this year either, and by the way, those cars that you can't afford to replace need some major TLC if they're going to last as long as you need them to, and we can't really afford that right now either…my own darn fault or not, I was bummed. Even worse, I've got my husband in this mess with me. HE can't afford to do any of this stuff, either, because of MY credit card debts. That, dear readers, is depressing.

So let's recap, and have a look at all of the things that, thanks to only about $7,000 in credit card debt, are out of reach to a thirty-four year old, married, childless semi-professional with a pretty decent job and a few alternative income streams:

  • Home ownership

  • A new car. Not even a used one.

  • Travel. Right now we can't even afford a weekend in the town where we got married, which is a whole three hours away.

  • Routine car repairs, although we're going to have to come up with this one way or another. I'm praying that they won't become absolutely necessary until we've had time to save up for them.

  • Rental of a nice house in a nice neighborhood, and by "nice" I mean "not terrifying or populated by people who obviously are not concerned that letting trash pile up on their lawn and spill out into the street might lead one to consider them 'trashy', and also something clean that has air conditioning and has not been the site of a meth lab in recent history." It's not like we're aiming for Southern Hills, here.

    This is not even to mention the fact that I haven't updated my work wardrobe in almost a year, I've taken to cutting my own hair, ditto cutting my poodle's hair, we only go out to the movies or out to eat once in a blue moon and almost never both in the same month….

    The point is, while frugality can be a satisfying, and even fun, challenge, forced frugality bites. Especially when you feel like you're so far behind your peers that you might never catch up. So take heed, boys and girls. Credit can be a good thing in responsible hands; but carrying a balance could very well screw up your life for years. It's bad! Don't do it!

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