100 bills

NO CREDIT CARDS!?!? That’s crazy. You need credit cards, you need credit. This was how I got my first credit card, after being married about 12 seconds. We were newly married and our incomes were so lopsided, that I was afraid to look at the checking account for fear my new husband would finally realize that maybe I wasn’t as much of a prize as I had spent the five prior years trying to convince him I was. He worked full time, I worked 10 hours a week. He had a great marketing job, I was just starting out at a small, not for profit. My money problems started with internal conflict. 

My insecurities of who I was and what I was worthy of drove me to do some crazy things over the last few years…and as you all know, or will come to know, Eric smiled and stood by my side as I fell around and made a mess of his very unmessy life, (at least that’s how I describe it… he has his own far more positive thoughts on that time). If anyone deserves a trophy for Most Supportive, it’s him. And my in-laws because honestly they’ve seen me make some terrible choices, and they still seem to love me, which is the kind of love that just boggles my mind. The love you get when you don’t feel like you deserve it. People’s perceptions of you can change your perception of you. 

After 3 years of not talking about money we started, slowly, in fact, we didn’t even start talking about our money, we talked about other peoples. That sounds creepy, let me explain. Eric started listening to Dave Ramsey non-stop for weeks on end anytime we were in the same building. Not going to lie, sometimes I thought he was just doing it to annoy me. I remember listening to one couple who were spending more than they had and just digging into more and more debt. I flippantly said, “at least we aren’t spending more than we have, going into debt.” He shrugged at me and said, “well, we’re spending more than we bring in.” I panicked. “We are in debt?” He sighed and tried to smooth the waters, “Not yet, but if we’re not careful, we will be.”

“Money problems are rarely math problems, they are usually behavior problems.” Dave Ramsey

So I got on board, at least I thought I got on board. I sat down for our first budget meeting. Eric, being the nerd, wrote the budget up and I agreed to it. A month later, we sat down and looked at how we did…that’s right a MONTH later, we did no check-ins for 30 days. Our spending hadn’t changed, hmmm I wonder why. Month after month we kept coming back to the budget to find that sometimes we made progress but more often than not, we were just floating at the same spot we had always been.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw

So what changed? A few small life lessons about how important having savings is. The knowledge that we earn enough to not live paycheck to paycheck. The ability to actually talk about finances. Learning to do weekly budget check-ins. All of those things helped but they weren’t the thing that changed. Because we already knew all of that, we were already getting healthier in our relationship and with our relationship with money. What changed was one small piece of plastic we had refused to stop using. January of 2019 was the last time I used my credit card. In one year, we went from having no emergency fund to a fully-funded rainy day fund. Something that we hadn’t been able to accomplish in the two years prior. We learned to pay attention to what we were spending. We learned to ask each other first and then make purchases. We learned that because we are a team, both of us should get a say where the majority of that money goes.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Albert Einstein  

So what about you? What are you holding on to, that maybe you shouldn’t? How would your life change if you tried living without it for just 3 months? Small changes can have huge rewards. The only thing we changed was stopping using our credit cards. That’s it, and literally overnight that one change, changed how we thought about money, how we used money, how we saved money, how much money we saved. What if your one small change could free you from a big problem. Maybe it doesn’t seem like it could help now, but what if it does? What if it’s the change to make all the other changes seem worth it?

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