Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Getting into Healthy Financial Shape

Along with keeping my commitments, I am also using this year to officially get my finances in order. Now I have always considered myself a financial savvy individual, but even with the knowledge, I could not use it because I never had stable employment. With that being said, I think my college years were my best financial times. This is because I always had money. I worked part time for a major fast food company, a work-study program on campus, and last but surely not least (literally) there was Sallie Mae. Oh my gosh! I was never without money in my pockets and this was before I even discovered credit cards. However my down fall occurred when I did discover credit cards.

My freshman and sophomore year in college, I PURPOSELY chose not to obtain credit cards. I did not have a lot of knowledge about them except that I kept hearing that they were bad for college students. I lived on campus so I did not have living expenses and with my part time job, student loan check, and monthly check from my work-study job, I had quite a few dollars in my pocket. Nevertheless my parents felt that it was necessary for me to have at LEAST ONE credit card in case of emergencies and/or they could not send and/or give me money in a timely fashion. Even when I acquired the first credit card, I did not use it for the first 6 months.

Oh but when I did and I got a taste of it, everything has been down hill ever since. After the first credit card, I was offered a Wal-Mart card. I figured I was going to need it since I basically lived there anyway because that’s where I brought all my items such as personal needs, supplies, and food. Next was another major credit card. I figured I will use this one for really big items (crazy). Then was the Shell gas card, and of course I needed this one. This card was supposed to be for trips back home to visit my family (I went to college 4 hours away). Instead it was used for everything. Let’s not forget that I had to have the Old Navy and JCPenny card. The reasons for those two cards I cannot remember, but I am pretty sure (100%) that it was for clothes.

So in one year I obtained SIX CREDITS CARDS.

Everything was going fine until I took a summer off from school and thought I was to good to work at the local fast food place in my hometown (what was I thinking!!). All school year I was on it with the minimum payments and my little budget, but it was not until June, July, and August, that I got into a jam. However instead of calling the credit card companies and explaining to them the situation and setting up other payment options, I TOTALLY IGNORED THEM. Even when I went back to school, I felt like I was so far behind in payments (again here was another chance I could have called), that there was no way to catch up. So you know what I did? Let them go into collections and then get charged off. Yep.

So my dad asked me about my credit card (they thought I still had the first one only) and I inform him of everything, and then he stated something so profound (at least at that moment in time). “Why would you get SIX credit cards when the first one could do the same thing all the rest of them did?” Now I knew that, but I did not think of it that way. So I am in my last year of college and messed up my credit. Now I could have right then and there said, “I am going to move back on campus and use the money that I am using to pay rent and utilities, to pay off debt.” However I was too worried about how it would look with me moving back on campus. So I just stuck it out, and said I would get to it one day. On the other hand this experience did drive me to learn (and I mean really learn) about budgeting, debt, credit reports and scores, and basically everything dealing with the matter of having a healthy financial situation. I consumed every issue I could find of Black Enterprise (I am a subscriber currently – and clip the articles that I find useful), read and put in my favorites’, every website pertaining to debt and/or debt repair. Bought every Suze Orman (along with watching/TiVo her show every Saturday) and Glinda Bridgforth wrote. So now with my knowledge, I was ready to apply it. However almost five years (since graduating college) has gone by and I am greatly/sadly able to say I can finally apply it. I am settled in my new position and making the necessary steps I need to make to improve my credit. My goal is to be completely debt free (with the exception of Sallie Mae and my car loan) summer of 2009. The estimated total is $10,000.00. That amount includes credit cards, misc. debt, hospital bills, and etc. Can not go into my LATE twenties with bad credit!!!

Next………”Girl get your money straight” by Glinda Bridgforth


sweetpea said...

Congratulations on heading in the right direction!! I'm happy for you that everything's starting to get in order, cuz being close to debt-free relieves lots of stress lol!!

quarter-life-crisis said...

Thanks! I can finally start putting things into action.