The woes of money mismanagement

Let me be blunt; I am unbelievably, notoriously awful with my handling of money. Essentially, when the bill comes, I pay it, and then move on. That’s the extent of my involvement. I don’t read my monthly statements and I rarely check my account and the like. There’s no intentional reason; I just don’t.

Years ago, I took on a Wal-Mart credit card in order to “establish credit.” Well, I damn sure did that and amassed a great deal of debt. I wasn’t maxing the card or anything; I paid it every month, but I wasn’t paying the full amount every month; thus, debt. It’s fluctuated at different levels over the years, but more or less, it’s been the dark financial cloud that’s been present for a while now. And I’m tired of it.

With that said, I caught a lucky break. I was looking over my statements recently, which again, I’m not wont to do often, and I noticed I was getting charged every month for “card security.” Something to the order of $20-$45 a month for something I knew nothing about. Obviously, such a thing adds up when you consider that I’m already in debt on the card, paying interest out the wazoo, and some general late fees here and there (again, a problem of not looking at the statements, as I never realized I was late on payments at times).

Thankfully, with the help of my mother, who is great at things like this, I was given a full refund of all monies that had gone to this “card security.” So, for the first time, I actually see a light at the end of my debut tunnel, as it were.

There have been many times were I’ve agonized, stressed, cried, gotten frustrated or otherwise been perturbed at the amount of debt I have, my mismanagement therein, the stupid mistakes I’ve made and so forth, that to finally see that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel makes me immeasurably happy.

To give you some perspective, I started out with a credit card limit of $800. Not a lot, but fairly large for someone with no established credit at my age. Over the next four to five years between using it on Christmas gifts, whimsical purchases (like a treadmill that I hastily returned), and legitimate uses (like gas), I was racking up the debt. Even so, Wal-Mart generously (yeah), continued to up my credit limit. Thus far, I’m standing at a credit limit of $3,600. At one point or another, I had amassed debt somewhere over $3,000.

It had gotten so bad that during a period where I had no employment, but needed to pay bills, I did the “cash back” feature on my credit card to get cash in order to pay the minimum monthly payment on the credit card itself. Think about that one for a second. And also consider I get feed every time I use the “cash back” option.

My mistakes are numerous and I own up to them. Have I learned from them? I hope so because over the last few months, I renewed my focus and determination to pay the credit card debt down. Wal-Mart charges me around 24%, last I checked, on interest alone. Owing over $3,000 on top of interest like that? Yeah, I needed to do something. So, thanks to connections with my dad’s work, I got a job there. That started in February. Since then, I’ve managed to pay a sizable amount to the Wal-Mart card.

As of today, before the refund I was owed, I still had just shy of $2,000 left to pay off. Now, you may be thinking, that doesn’t sound like a lot of progress. Well, consider, due to poor judgment and mistakes on my part, I owed a little over $1,000 to school in order to return in the fall. So, I was sidetracked by that. If not for that, I would be in a much better position at the moment. Nevertheless, with the refund nearing $800, I’m extremely close to finally paying this sucker off.

I look forward to the day when I can rip the card up and never look at it again. Don’t confuse me. I love Wal-Mart. I think they’re great, despite all of this, because it was my mistakes that led to this point, not theirs (besides the “card security” snafu, but they were quick and gracious about the refund).

Suffice it to say, the lesson that I’ve taken away from this ordeal is as follows: read your fucking credit card statements. And even beyond that you should not spend what you do not have.

Now, it’s on to my car payment…

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