I just cancelled the trip I was supposed to take to Miami this weekend. The reason? Not because I didn't want to see my friends or see palm trees or get a tan or relax on the white sand beaches (well, white in comparison to long island beaches) next to the turquoise ocean... damn.
No, I cancelled in order to meet my obligations here in PA for my MBA and the CFA exam I'm registered for. I have a finite amount of time to prepare for the CFA and my workload for school is already piling up. I've already missed four classes, so I've got my work cut out for me.
Here's what's out of character for me: I'm actually not doing something fun in order to fulfill my responsibilities! OMG, what a concept.
Another accomplishment for me: not buying everything I want just because I want it. I got a Microcenter circular in the mail, and being the uber-nerd that I am, I wanted almost every item on its glossy pages. 8-outlet surge protector? I'll take two! $150 laser printer?! I'm there. $799 iBook? Finally, I can play for both teams! (Microsoft and Mac, duh).
But no. I have $9,000 in credit card debt that I've managed to rack up over the last year. When I was working, I paid my $1,500 bill in full each month, and I when I quit I still had some savings to burn through for when I went back to school. Well, I spent well in excess of my savings, so now I've got to clean up that mess. And I'm doing it. My grandmother is going to help me out with about $400 a month and my father still gives me at least $780 a month ($450 every two weeks). This seems like enough, but transportation alone is about $500 a month between car insurance ($220 a month), train tickets ($203 a month), gas ($80), car wash ($20), oil change ($15), etc. And that doesn't even count the seemingly endless list of things my girlfriend wants (sigh). She sent me this article yesterday about wanting to redecorate the outside of our house. I get that she wants to make it more homey, but I don't have the heart to tell her how little money I have at the moment...
Anyway, I'm going to buy only the essentials now and delay consumption of other goods and services until I pay off my debt. Spending < cash available. Interesting concept. So far, I'm doing well following that. I'm going to shoot for paying about $333 a month towards one card, and about $200 a month for the other. That should put a dent in it until I get a job this summer and then I'll probably be able to wipe out the balances completely.
This is a step in the right direction. I thought I didn't make enough at my old job, but the problem was that I spent too much money. I don't need $350 wallets, and $100 umbrellas or two Palm Pilots, two mp3 players, two DVD players, $250 detailing on my car twice a year, $75 shirts for work, more jackets than there are days of the week, $170 pairs of jeans, $10 on lunch every day, etc, etc. Or do I? Sure I like to shop, but it has to be within reason. I can look good with less.
Breaking this habit is hard to do, but I'm up for it. I know that as much as I like shopping, getting rid of this credit card debt and rebuilding my savings will give me what I'm really trying to "buy."