The last time I talked about my credit card debt here, one of our community said that he didn’t know the specific numbers of my problem, and it got me thinking that I’ve probably lost sight of one of the main reasons I wanted to be writing here in the first place: to keep myself honest. I feel worse about my behavior when other people know about it.
So, here is exactly where I am:
I have one credit card that lives in my wallet (and it does seem like it’s alive sometimes), the Charles Schwab Signature Visa. I’ve been using it instead of my bank debit card for daily purchases because I get 2% back from the money I spend, and I thought I could handle the temptation. The current balance is $5,724, obviously more than I should have spent since I last paid it off, which I should be doing every cycle. The interest rate is 13.24% and the last finance charge was $74.49.
I have one other credit card currently owned by Chase that was cut up a long time ago, and represents the remaining debt I started building up in 1997. The remaining balance on it is $1,104. The interest rate is 12.24% and the last finance charge was $11.92.
In my bank account is $10.17, because the last time I got paid, after making the necessary transfers to cover monthly expenses, I had $1,000 leftover, which I sent immediately to the nice people at Charles Schwab. The only money that gets used to pay off the Chase card is what I earn from my side jobs.
And now I’m thinking that I should probably forgo the 2% cash back on the Schwab card and go back to using my debit card for daily purchases. I thought I could rely on my self-discipline not to spend more than I could pay back, but it looks like that wasn’t true. Bummer.
Now, I guess I just need to figure out what is a reasonable amount to let myself spend during an average week. I can’t really go on historical data, because I’ve been doing it badly for quite a while. So, ignoring the credit cards for a second, after contributing my share of the family expenses, I have $1,723 leftover every month. I’m going to try restricting myself to $100 a week, which will enable credit card payments of about $1,300 instead of $1,000.
I don’t know if I can afford breakfast, lunch, gasoline, and doing something occasionally nice with my wife on $100 a week. But if I’m going to get serious, I have to get serious now. Summer weather is going to start in about a month, here in Texas, and when it’s hot outside, I get depressed, which turns to self-destructive behavior like spending too much and eating Chocolate Zingers. I need to make this a habit so I can avoid that.
Thanks for listening, you’ve been a good ear. You don’t mind if I come to you with my problem again in the future, do you? I hope it’ll seem rosier, then.
Updated July 25, 2010 and originally published January 26, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.