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Posted on Oct 25, 2011 in Dear Diary | 53 comments

The Worst Four Letter Word

I have what one might call an indulgent personality.

Er, to say the least.

While we already know where that particular personality trait (flaw?) has landed me when it comes to the food side of things (does 246 lbs ring a bell?), what I don’t often touch on is how being self-indulgent has affected other areas of my life. I don’t like to talk about finances because I come from a very fiscally responsible family, and it’s embarrassing to admit how far I let myself slide. But hey, I figure if I can post pictures of myself at my highest weight in a bikini on here, I should be able to openly discuss what is probably the most taboo term in the Powell household: credit card debt.

Credit Card Tombstone

I’ve talked about my issues with disordered eating many times over. What many people may not initially realize, however, is that beyond the physical, emotional, and mental toll that binge eating takes on a person, it takes a huge financial toll as well. After all, it’s not like “binge food” was an item on my grocery list. No, instead I would drop $15 a pop at drive-thru windows (give yourself a second to calculate just how much fast food $15 can buy), charging pizzas and chinese delivery to my credit cards, and the costs, just like my weight, simply continued to rise.

Mo' money, mo' problems

Of course, while I spent a lot of money on food, that wasn’t the only culprit for my unabashed spending. Unfortunately, gluttony begets gluttony, and it isn’t just reserved for things of a culinary nature. Once I was out of college and making my own money, food therapy ceased to be enough to fill the emotional void on its own. Between going a little crazy with my holiday gift-giving and my obsessions with Sephora, pedicures, and designer shoes I never actually wear… Well, suffice it to say, retail therapy became the name of the game.

Yes, you’re reading that insole correctly. These have gotten one wear. ONE.

Seeing several of my fellow bloggers be so honest about their sordid financial histories convinced me to do the same. After all, I’ve always said that honesty is what you get here whether you like it or not, haha. So I’m going to stop beating around the bush: I accumulated over $6,000 in personal credit card debt before I could even begin to admit that it had become a problem. It’s okay, family. You can judge.

Now, I realize that compared to the kinds of debt that many others are dealing with, $6K may be a mere drop in the bucket. That being said, I hope that everyone realizes that carrying ANY credit card debt from month-to-month is too much. After all, we’re not talking school loans or mortgages here. This is not good debt. This is you’re-throwing-your-money-away-kind of debt. This is the kind of debt that comes back to get you. And I can tell you now from personal experience that being stressed over credit card debt is not exactly what I would call a boon to weight loss.

I'mma getchu!

Fortunately, not too long after I made the decision to salvage my physical health, I resolved to do something about my rapidly declining financial health as well. Unfortunately, life did not take a break while I was getting to that point. In order to leave my horrible, soul-crushing post-college job, I actually had to pay the company in order to quit before my 2-year contract was up (can I get a “WTF?”). Daxter had a life-threatening accident when he was 14-weeks-old, putting him in the doggy ICU for three exorbitantly expensive days (and of course, I hadn’t gotten pet insurance yet. Fail.) My father generously loaned me some money to help me out in the interim, so that’s an entirely different debt that I’m working towards paying off.

While these things may have slowed down my progress slightly, I am still moving forward. Er, downward. My credit score is still high, since I have never defaulted or had a late payment, and I’m continuing to whittle down at the balance I owe. It’s taken a while, but over the past eight months I’ve managed to reduce my credit card debt by two-thirds. By the end of 2011, barring any surprises, I should be free & clear of all non-mortgage debt (holy crap, just typing that out feels amazing!) And that’s all in spite of my lingering penchant for purchasing unnecessarily expensive things, haha.

Because we all know they aren’t buying their own sweaters and designer dog beds.

Okay, okay. I jest, but believe it or not I really am trying harder than ever to stick to an actual budget and watch my spending. I use Mint.com to track my purchases and accounts, and have the app on my phone as well. I’m also tracking my debts and payments in an Excel spreadsheet to make sure I am not overspending the funds that I need to keep in my checking account for things like, oh, my third of the mortgage. But it’s difficult. Not only is it hard to restrain myself from spending mindlessly, but it is challenging to maintain my healthy lifestyle while on a budget. Eating locally, organically, and/or healthily is relatively expensive. Race registrations are expensive. And let’s not even get started on my sushi requirement. I know that I don’t really NEED to buy organic apples or new running shoes or my own juicer, but it doesn’t mean I don’t WANT those things. And that whole indulgent personality thing? It just makes it hard to tell myself “no”.


I’m working on it.

Do you feel that a tendency to overindulge when it comes to food sets you up to overindulge when it comes to spending? Please don’t feel pressured to share, but if you feel comfortable doing so, I’d be so, so interested to hear from others who are going through or have gone through anything similar when it comes to debt.


  1. I don’t usually “notice” our age difference most of the time, but this post has me screaming, “Oh my god, this was me at your age.” Story time!

    I grew up in a house that didn’t have credit cards. My parents never had them and never used them. But you better believe the second I got my first credit card offer in the mail when I was in college, I was all over that. By the time I graduated college, I’d wracked up about $15,000 of credit card debt. Purses, clothes, makeup, drink tabs, new Apple laptops, music. All the stuff that I could never buy/get when I was growing up because my parents were so frugal (you know, so they could afford to pay my tuition, silly parents). I was so terrible in college that I was working five different jobs (all decently paying for a college kid) and making twice the money of all my friends, but was the one that kept getting her electricity shut off.

    And it only got worse when I met Babyface after college. I was working a low-paying job, and yet was paying for international flights every month. And then when we got married, he wasn’t allowed to work for six months. And we had so may immigration fees. We were putting groceries and gas on his Canadian credit cards. We came out of our first year of marriage with almost $35k in debt (and we were still renting and owned one, not so great, car).

    A few years ago, we came to the realization that if something happened. We literally could not afford to pay for it. Our credit cards were on the brink of being maxed out and we had no cash. If we got into a car accident, there was no way to pay our deductible. If Puppyface got hurt (again) we’d have to ask my parents for cash. So we stopped. We began following (roughly) Dave Ramsey’s plan where you save up $1000 for emergencies and then use any extra after that for paying off debt.

    From the original debt, we’ve got about $10,000 left (half of that is a low-interest student loan and half is a Canadian credit card). We did add a car loan because we needed a second car, but we are paying it off fast.

    I am SO proud of how far we’ve come. And honestly, we have switched from debt-killing mode to savings mode in the past year, so we could pay off the remainder of the debt with our savings if we really wanted to. It is an amazing feeling to feel financially secure. Even if we aren’t totally “there” we are at least in a place where we feel comfortable.

    Part of me just feels like this is part of the evolution of “growing up” (I don’t mean to sound condescending, if it comes across that way). Sure, there are people that come out of adolescence and early adulthood without any debt and never need to learn the lesson and that’s awesome for them. But I think the vast majority of us learn it a different, harder way.

    This is a really long way to say, “I totally get it. And you aren’t alone.”

    Side note: I for one believe you do NEED organic apples. It’s your health. πŸ™‚

    • Wow, well you working off your debt is literally 5 times more commendable than me! And yeah, I mean, I’ll be honest: organic produce is probably going to stay in my grocery cart. I mean, I want to eradicate my debt, but not at the expense of being TOTALLY miserable (just a little bit miserable, hahaha.) I heart you, soulmate.

  2. I broke off an engagement in December 2008 and went nuts. I only wish I had more nice shoes like you. πŸ˜‰ Regardless, I now sit here with 6500$ in debt and a fabulous relationship – and I’m terrified of the idea of getting engaged before that debt is gone. I’ve come a long way too but I can completely relate and I’m proud of all the progress you’ve made – on all levels. You’re quite the inspiration.

    Additionally, I agree with Cassie, re: organic grapes. Keep ’em coming! πŸ™‚


  3. Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. When my disordered eating was at its worst, my spending was at its worst as well – in fact, I used to be able to gauge my emotional health by how much I was spending on stupid stuff. I racked up credit card debt too, and it was tough to pay it off. Every time I’d get close, I’d slip up and charge a new cashmere sweater – or even just one too many little “treats” from Starbucks.

    You are so smart to be dealing with this now, Gretchen. I was several years older than you are before I started to take it seriously, so I commend you for your self-awareness! You will get the debt paid off in no time, I’m sure.

    Also: please wear those D&G’s. They are so fierce and they deserve to be admired by the public.

    • Haha, I will try to bust them out more often — just for you! πŸ™‚ I think that cutting down debt and losing weight are really more alike than I had even initially thought. With either one, it’s like when I think I’m making progress, when I think I’m *almost* there, that’s when my resolve slips and I end up backsliding. Oy.

  4. Oh man…
    I am a co-owner of a small cheerleading gym here in Maryland. And let me just tell you, we weren’t able to do this right. We had two weeks to find a building and buy gym equipment, and guess whose credit cards we used. So, the balance I have left to pay is about 7 grand. On top of that, I owe about 14k for school and quite a bit for a surgery I needed to have with no health insurance.
    I have certainly cut my spending and make sure that all of my bills are paid for the month before I really treat myself to anything including meals out. Plus, I like a lot of own cooking and I like going on hikes for free. πŸ™‚

    • Yeah, luckily now that I have most of my disordered eating habits under control, I am much better about cooking at home so that saves a ton. That being said, I do still go out to eat A LOT, and that’s something I really should be cutting back on. Baby steps?

      • Baby steps is the only way to do it!

  5. This is an all too familiar blog! I, too, am in the process of paying off credit card debt. Shopping sprees, trying to live outside my means, and wanting to be “cool” and buy all organic everything, and trying to fill a void of a very hard break-up, moving to a new city on my own, and starting a “real big girl” job left me in about $8,000 worth of credit card debt. I am learning, very very slowly, how to live on a very strict budget, which means saying NO to going out with friends a lot, eating out, shopping… pretty much anything other than a weekly money allowance I have given myself. It’s not easy by any means, but I keep telling myself the sacrifices now will be so worth it in the long run when I am debt free. And, I am learning how to be satisfied with what I DO have and ways to spend time with loved ones that doesn’t’ involve spending money. After all, those who love us the mostest love our presence, not how much we can spend! πŸ™‚

    • Sticking to a weekly allowance is something I haven’t been able to master yet, so you’re amazing!! Honestly, I’m not even very good about not using my credit cards, even though I know I should be paying only with money I actually HAVE (either from cash or my debit card.) But progress is progress, and even bothering not to charge SOME things makes a huge difference in my being able to pay things off faster. Onward!

  6. I feel like I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum, in the sense that I’m so afraid of falling into debt — since there are just so many sad stories / ‘we are the 99%’ kind of stuff out there — that I scrimp and save even when I don’t ‘have’ to. Sometimes I wish I could just enjoy — buy that pair of shoes that I don’t ‘have to have’ — but some part of me holds me back and asks, ‘Well, what if…?’

    I’m only saying this because I think there are 2 extremes here. (Well, I guess I’m not TOO extreme, in that I’m not ridiculously cheap, just frugal.) Now who knows how to get to the happy medium?

    • I’d like to know that too! This is perhaps why paying down my debt has been difficult though — once I introduced myself to a certain lifestyle, it was that much more difficult to stop. So while I don’t think it’s good to deprive yourself unnecessarily, for people with an addictive or indulgent personality like myself it probably would have been a much easier road if I had just never let myself go there.

      • Just wanted to follow up to say I didn’t mean at all with my comment to belittle your debt issue or in any way make it sound like my situation was comparable.

        And you’ve taken a healthy step in realizing what your issues are — and your triggers — which is definitely the right place to start.

        • No, no i didn’t take your comment that way at all! Ahhh triggering… just another finances/weight comparison point! πŸ˜€

  7. I wish my physical health were as impeccable as my financial health.

    I have never had student loans,
    I bought my car with cash,
    I only buy what I can afford (ie. I’ve never had credit card debt),
    I have a good supply of funds invested in RRSPs, TFSAs, and mutual funds,
    I’m on track to paying off my mortgage in a couple of years and I’ve only owned my home for 2 years.

    I’ve always been very very good with money.

    If you need any help, I’m all ears.

    • I think that the thing that made this post so hard for me to write is that I really did used to pride myself on being very financially responsible. I would lecture my college friends on the importance of establishing a credit score, not overextending themselves, etc (I was THAT girl). But I guess that knowing really only is HALF the battle though — I had to actually USE that knowledge. Just like before I actually started losing weight, I always KNEW how to lose it, I just never put it into practice. Ah well, better late than never, right?

  8. I feel really fortunate that I grew up in a family that is financially responsible. I never thought to purchase something I could not pay off right away. Credit cards were for racking up points and miles rather than buying something ridiculous. That said, being on my own now changes that perspective and I see just how easy it is to let these types of things get out of control. Good for you for eliminating your debt now rather than letting it burden you down the road.

    Oh, and can I borrow those shoes? πŸ™‚

  9. Looks like I’m the exact opposite, when it comes to spending money. I’ve always been a very budget-conscious person, never had a credit card (I recently got a prepaid card, but I hardly ever use it), etc. During college, I did indulge in some mildly expensive hobbies, but I never spent more than I had. Last year I paid off my car and my entire student loan (I went to a cheap school, so we’re talking about a moderate 4-figure sum), and have been completely debt free since. I don’t even pay mortgage, as I’m renting.
    But that’s just half the story. My husband is currently unemployed, has two teen-aged kids, a not-so-helpful ex-wife, and a ton (!) of debt. This situation has drastically changed my behaviour: I’ve stopped buying clothes for myself, we hardly ever eat out or go to the movies or things like that, I only get my hair done every 3-4 months, I’m always looking for the cheapest stuff at the grocery store, etc.
    So even though I have a decently paid job, there’s just no way that I can support a family of four AND getting our debt paid off. It’s kind of heartbreaking sometimes.
    I think you are amazing for being so responsible at your age!

    • That is a really tough situation to be in. But you’re amazing for being so ready and willing to adjust your lifestyle to support your family, even though the debt isn’t really your “fault”!!

  10. When I lost my job I also maxed out my two credit cards and put on 50 pounds. I know for me the two were definitely related because I justified every single purchase with “I don’t have any money but I have to eat so it’s okay to put this on my credit card.” I knew I was making bad financial choices but as long as it was food I felt like I didn’t have any other choice. Now that I’m working again and have paid off my credit cards (and never keep a balance) I still am more likely to spend too much money on going out for food but refuse to spend money on other things I actually need (like a new bra). I’m working on changing that, but it’s hard!

    • That was definitely where my head was at part of the time, too. The “food” categories in my budget are the hardest for me to realistically set, because, y’know, it’s food! I never really considered it a huge expense before, even though it continues to be where most of my money goes, haha.

  11. Uhm yes I can relate. =)

    I’m proud to report that I’ve made major progress on my debt, bringing it from 11K to now around 2.5k. I would be debt free by now, but the move put a major unexpected financial obstacle in my way. That said, I’m proud I’ve continued to make progress despite having to bleed money on a new place and a security deposit!

    • Which is something you should be SO, SO proud of!!

  12. Wow- I am proud of you for admitting this, because like you said it’s just as potentially embarrassing and difficult as admitting you need to lose weight. I knew that you had some money issues but I definitely was not aware as to the extent that you had got to. I am really proud of you for working it down and being able to say that by the end of the year you will be done with credit card debt! Hooray for you πŸ™‚

    • So now you know. *hides in shame* Homemade Christmas presents okay? πŸ™‚

      • yay!

  13. During college in NYC I struggled to keep up with my friends who came from wealthier backgrounds. As the scholarship kid, I didn’t like to admit that, so I just went along with whatever they did. Wracking up some CC debt…not to mention the student loans. Then, I transferred to UF to try to reduce my financial burden…even with student loans and a part time job I managed to wrack up CC debt trying to be a regular college student. So, I left for my first full time job with like $36k in Student loans and I don’t even remember how much in CC debt…maybe 5-10k? THEN, I bought a house (cheaper than renting, right? ugh. not. and now with the economy I can’t sell it and have to deal with tenants two states away)…and a car (I needed that though). It was so hard to pay that debt down. Sadly, even with a well paying job I felt like I was almost living paycheck to paycheck and not accruing any savings whatsoever. I found that smartypig.com helped me do some goal based saving. Like instead of using my CC to pay my large annual expenses, I’d save up each paycheck for them. They used to have phenomenal rates (like almost 4%) but now they’re down to 1.1%. Still good, but mainly I like how it breaks down your savings goals for you and helps you save up. Congrats on working to get your financial house in order! It’s hard work!

    • I’d never heard of that site, but I am checking it out now! My sad, almost-empty savings account is Phase 2 of my financial rebirth plan, haha.

  14. interesting discussion here!
    I always believe its so good to be up-front with those issues, as realizing how bad it really is helps a lot, I find!
    My parents raised me to always put some money aside for future investments, to not spend more than I earn and, although IΒ΄m quite the shopaholic, I stick to my budget and have no debts.
    For me, groceries are more important than, for example, dining out or going to the movies, so I will definitely buy organic produce (especially apples! think dirty dozen), but rather have a movie night with friends at home, instead of going to the cinema. Everyone has to find his or her priorities and not spend too much on everything. You canΒ΄t have it all, if you are fresh out of college, and if you want to have it all, then work hard for the money, so that you are able to get everything you want (that is what I am doing. Working hard, so I will be able to afford holidays, a nice house…)

  15. I feel the EXACT same way! When I changed my eating, I started shopping like all of my favorite stores were going out of business. I tend to push aside consequences in my mind and tell myself not to worry about until it all of the sudden hits me. I’ve gotten a lot better, but it’s hard. I’m also the type of person that considers putting a $2000 gift on my credit card because I REALLY want to make someone happy. I think it comes back to trusting that we are enough. We don’t have to buy extravagant things or fill ourselves with outside sources. We are enough as is. It’s such a hard concept to grasp, and I feel like finances are SO MUCH like food–you don’t want to be on either extreme. In order to fully enjoy your life and be healthy in either area you just have to find a balance that works for you. Getting out of debt (6 grand would feel like a lot to me too!) is a HUGE accomplishment! Congrats Gretchen-you are just an all around inspiration! Thank you for your honesty!!

    • I worry about the upcoming holiday season for the same reason – I love giving gifts, and I love making people happy! One of the biggest detriments to my credit card balance is Christmas. Our family looooooves Christmas! And my siblings were always so generous with their presents that once I got out of college and actually had a paycheck, I wanted to make up for the years of poorly self-knitted scarves that they had been enduring. It’s going to be a hard habit to break…

  16. I can’t even concentrate on your post because of all the pretty that is those D&G shoes. Swoon.

    But, seriously, good for you on getting your debt down! I once had almost $11k (on one card!) and I’m so dunzo on the debt end so I’m pleased. It’s so hard but so rewarding.

  17. My family has always been very financially conservative. When I got my first credit card, it was for gas only. And that’s all I used it for. I’ve always had the mentality that if I wanted something, I had to wait until I could pay for it.

    As for Christmas overspending, I know the feeling. I love to give great presents, but they don’t have to be uber-expensive. Instead of several gifts, think one gift. Don’t be afraid to go home-made. My mom’s favorite gift from me was when I gave her coupons for cleaning the bathrooms. Your family isn’t going to love you less for giving ‘cheap’ gifts. πŸ™‚

    Or you could set a Christmas budget based on ‘other income.’ How many pairs of designer shoes do you have that you’ve never worn or only worn once? You could try to e-bay or take them to a consignment shop. Then, all Christmas gifts come out of that fund.

    • That’s a really good idea. I’ve been thinking about going through some of my things and eBaying or consigning them. I have entirely too many Coach handbags that are NOT getting used at all. Think there’s a market?

      • Definitely! Especially leading up to the holidays!

  18. Dude. I may as well copy this post word for word. I managed to stop at 4k, fortunately, but I’m paying it off REALLY slowly. It sucks! Thanks for making me feel like a little bit less of a loser πŸ™‚

    • Hahaha, that’s what I’m here for!

  19. I definitely understand the tendency to overspend and it can be a great rush. Luckily I am very disciplined with money. If there is something I want (like the extremely expensive purse I bought last year) I save each month for it and then go pay cash. On the upside you get an a super awesome rush from walking out of the store with your “prize” that is paid for in full.

    I wish I had the same discipline in other areas of my life.

  20. Wow, Gretchen. Kudos to you for broaching this topic.

    I definitely agree, there is a correlation between (over)eating and (over)spending. Just as I always used food to fill a void, I began to use money – credit cards and cash – in that same way as soon as I was able to.

    I’ve been credit card-free for about fourteen years, and yet, right up through April of this year, when I began my second lay-off experience (in three years; oy), I was living paycheck to paycheck.

    Now, on absurdly meager unemployment (about half what my last job income was), I’m managing to pay all my bills; just barely, but even so. I have had to relinquish cable (I even gave away my TV, because it was mocking me; yes, it was!), and I have downgraded my cell phone service, but even so.

    It is eye-opening, and disconcerting, and even a little sad to think that if I can manage to live on so little now, out of necessity, imagine how I could have been living (actual savings; car loan paid off) had I woken up to it on my own, rather than having it delivered via a proverbial kick in the ass.

    Holy run-on sentence.

    You’re doing great, and you’ll be doing even better, as time goes on. Step by step. Good for you! πŸ™‚

  21. Wow, thanks for being so honest! I definitely can relate to this struggle. While we do not (currently*) have any credit card debt, it is a CONSTANT struggle to avoid the urge to buy things we dont “need” (ie pedicures, kitchen gadgets (my biggest pitfall), TRAVEL, not to mention good food!…) *Sigh* it has been a constant back and forth battle, because both of us “want” to save money during these early years…but also both of us are big spenders. We like to have fun, what can I say?! So I can totally relate. But, I also have some good things to add to the conversation. We paid off over $15,000 of various debt (school loans, personal loans, car payment…) in the first 16 months we were married. Was it easy? Not at all. But it was simple. We somehow learned how to spend less and put that money toward paying debt (Thank you, Dave Ramsey) Anyway, it is nice to be “debt free” and we were able to buy a house this year, which we close on in under 2 weeks!
    As for curbing the spending habits… still working on that. It is a little scary because I know that houses aren’t cheap, but a HUGE financial responsibility!

    It sounds like you are making so much progress in your financial health! That is awesome, keep it up! It will feel so good to be debt free when you get there!! Thanks again for sharing, this is something so many people struggle with, just like weight. I’m glad you’re talking about it!

  22. In my family it seems we’ve spread out the compulsive issues between the siblings – I’m the thrifty one who eats too much, my sister is the skinny one who spends too much. I hope your family can try to feel happy that you’re making progress and not stay too down on you for having the debt – me staying angry at my sister’s spending habits really caused us both a lot more upset than if we had just worked on accepting (even grudgingly) each others flaws in the first place!

  23. Hi πŸ™‚ Firstly, I love your shoes! Give them to me if you aren’t gonna wear them :p
    Well, great to see we have stuff in common…shoes and pedis πŸ™‚ Well, for me retail therapy is a means of replacing food indulgences…I read so much on how to find “other” ways to treat myself and so I was left wondering..hmm..what could I do? So my indulgences are coffee at my favourite coffee shops, shoes, bags, massages, pedis. All of these are pretty expensive πŸ™‚ But, what I don’t have is a credit card…never had one.. out of personal choice because I know how much I’d spend if I did have one…
    I do have loans too so yeah I know about cutting back..my parents have gasped when I spent loads of money on a spa membership…but hey I get 50% off and massages are supposed to help you lose weight..and I figured I am saving money on not eating out πŸ™‚ but yeah! I so get the you need to save your money drill all the time! Hang in there! You are not alone! πŸ™‚

  24. Debt is so hard to work through but it’s so good you’re working it out now. I was in a world of trouble debt wise about 5 years ago. I’ve been working so, so hard to get myself back to a level that isn’t taking every dollar of every pay check to pay down. I had just about 3 times as much debt as you and it’s been a disaster – but sometimes bad things happen in life and financial responsibility has to go out the door for awhile to take care of those things. Granted, I wasn’t terribly smart with cards and the amount of debt that piled up wasn’t all necessary but it’s almost gone now. I’m down to around $2,000 and I’ll be done with that by January or February of 2012. My goal was to pay it off by the end of 2011, for the first time in recent memory I’m going on a real vacation over Thanksgiving – and you know what, I paid for the whole thing in cash. For the first time ever, I saved for a vacation and paid for the whole thing right at once in cash. Maybe I could have paid off the credit cards 2-3 months earlier but I’m so happy to be able to go on vacation without setting myself back further into debt. I’m so excited πŸ™‚
    Anyway, good luck with getting your debt together. You’re going to do great πŸ™‚

  25. Um, yeah. I’m right at the START of figuring out my disordered eating and also noticing that it ties in to my shopaholic tendencies. It was so so so bad right after I had my baby last year, because I was dealing with baby blues and my way of coping was shopping and eating. BAD.

    We just started roughly following the Dave Ramsy plan for killing our debt. We had to tell our families that we weren’t going to be visiting for a while. It was NOT PLEASANT. I’m doing much better with regard to spending, but it’s tough. I hit a rough patch this month when the emotional difficulties from my parents’ divorce and the whole “the sun has been hiding for like two straight weeks” thing… I hit a bump and did some not-so-great things, but I’m back to working on it and getting things straight.

    It’s tough. It’s even worse when you have people who depend on you for survival. You don’t want to let them down or to make them suffer. Fortunately, we’ve been blessed with generous family members, and some friends of mine are just so great, so it hasn’t been terrible, but we’ve had to go without a lot of things. And yes, despite this being like cardinal sin #1 among healthy living bloggers, one of those things is organic produce. We do our best, but it’s not always a financial possibility. Funds are limited, and we use a cash budget. $150 a week to feed 2 big dogs, a cat, a toddler and two adults means some weeks we eat great, some weeks we don’t. At least we’re eating.

  26. This is an amazing post, and apparently a sign that I need to get my butt into gear before shit really hits the fan.

    I’m about halfway through university, and I’m just on the brink of going into debt. Not the student type of debt, the stupid indulgent purchases type that I should be nowhere near. Right now I’ve managed to bring my credit balance back to zero and pay my rent, but it’s gonna turn ugly soon when I have to pay tuition and stop getting income again for the next four months while I’m back in school.

    The tricky thing about getting healthy is that you feel like you *deserve* the health-related things you buy. Massive grocery bills every week? I’m eating healthy, it’s an investment in me. New lululemon workout gear? It’s super comfy and I need to keep myself motivated to go to the gym. New roadbike and triathlon gear? I deserve it!

    The thing is, just because this stuff is going toward a healthy lifestyle or hobby doesn’t mean that you need or deserve it. It’s easy to talk yourself out of fast food, but not so easy to talk yourself out of these.

    Glad to know I’m not the only one πŸ™‚

  27. You know I’m completely in the same boat and understand EXACTLY what you are going through, especially the weight thing. My issues are very similiar, I use money and food to feel good about myself, without really looking into ME to figure it out.

    You are so great though, you are doing everything right. We’re young 20 somethings, I wish it was easier for us to get out of debt but we are doing all we can.

    I love you and think you are AMAZING! So you’ll get out of this, I promise. And so will I!

    and when we do, we’re freakin going to Fiji.

  28. I think all too often addictions or inclination to addictions run in groups. I love food, I love shopping, I love cocktails, and I have an addictive personality. Fortunately I have avoided a problem with alcohol although I flirted with it after my divorce. But I often use food or shopping to act as therapy. Because of this I’m dealing with weight and a number of credit card bills.

    It is the instant gratification that comes from both. And shoes and purses always fit so that is a feel good compared to clothes. I also have a softspot for pampering things like pedicures, manicures, getting my hair colored, make-up, etc. Now I have $150 going out to gym membership and other health related items.

    I’ve gotten better about spending and am working on getting our bills taken care of which is nice. But it is a struggle just like losing weight some weeks are good some are not so good.

  29. Hi Gretchen. Very brave post. I too am working hard to pay down some debt that has slowly accumulated. I’m also saving by payroll deduction every paycheque…so I guess I’m half way better. LOVE those shoes btw…
    Hope you have a terrific Tuesday. (and aaawwww, to that dog of yours! So cute)

  30. I was the same way when I finally started getting my own credit cards, but thankfully they’ve been paid off and now I just use my card for daily purchases and pay it off each month.

    I do have a problem with shopping though. I love buying new clothes and shoes because I think subconsciously I feel that if I get great new clothes, I’ll feel like a million bucks and all of a sudden be the size I want to be. I buy great clothes, but then end up wearing jeans, tennies and a sweater 95% of the time. I also have a problem with buying books and stuff for my house that I just don’t need.

    I picked up a “financial health and budgeting for dummies” last weekend and am going through it now, I’ll let you know if it’s any help. I need to get my 96k in student loans under control =(

  31. I definitely have a hard time handling my money responsibly as well. I still haven’t perfected it but I am working on it. I accrued nearly $3000 of credit card debt in my last 1.5 years of college (like you, the bad kind of debt) and I ended up telling my parents about it so they loaned me the money to pay off the credit card and I am still working on paying them off (for that and other money they loaned me for buying furniture and the security deposit on my apartment). I have gotten better at it, but I would love to just use my credit card when I have to, i.e. when I can’t pay with my debit card or cash – because right now every month I spend about $400 of the next month’s budget (using my credit card). The amount doesn’t go up but it doesn’t go down either and I am so annoyed with myself for it.

  32. I have about $2k in credit card debt and (deep breath) $60,000 in school loans. Ick. Why did I do that? Oh yeah, that Master’s/Bachelor’s combo that will probably only net me about half of what I paid for them in salary. At least I will be poor whilst doing something I love. They do say that teachers take a vow of poverty…


  33. Oh my, this is like looking into a mirror, except my debt is a little larger than yours and my shoe collection nowhere near as fabulous as those D&Gs.

    Thank you very much for those links, I’ve never heard of Dave Ramsay’s baby steps program, but I read up on it after reading your post and realised that I’ve been trying to attack my debt the wrong way. I’m going to sit down and have a long hard look at my debt and my budget now because you’re right, debt is stressful and we all have enough stress in our lives without having to worry about it!

    My disordered spending is an emotional thing. I spend when I’m unhappy, anxious, upset, worried etc etc. I’m the same in that a lot of the stuff I bought I didn’t use more than once or twice. It was the act of buying that gave me the rush. When I discovered food, I bought fancy foods and ingredients and an unhealthy amount of Reeses’ products. I’ve also gone through (going through) a fancy lunchbox purchasing phase. I haven’t had much luck in managing this though. I know it’s a problem and I’ve had this problem for many many years. I do have credit cards, but I keep them frozen in a bowl of water in the freezer so they are not easily accessible. I know I should get rid of them, but I haven’t had the courage to do so just yet.

    Managing debt and spending is hard, but I think it’s great that people are talking about it and sharing their experiences.


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