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Monday, May 16, 2011

Day 22: Something You Wish You Hadn't Done In Your Life

Although I totally believe that everything happens for a reason and do my best to live my life without regrets, I do wish that I hadn't been so irresponsible with credits cards in college.

Credit cards are the reason I have to pinch as many pennies as I can. (See this post) Although my debt is nothing compared to what some people accrue throughout college, it's still a burden and something that I feel is holding me back from being really daring in regards to my future.  I've been taking steps to get out of debt, such as closing my cards and enrolling in a credit management and financial counseling program that lowers my interest rates so that I can pay the debt down faster and spend less on interest. It's an awesome program, but I wish it hadn't got to a point where I had to consider drastic measures.

It's a slippery slope.  In the beginning, I was determined to pay off my balance every month and use my card to build my credit.  I got my first card when I switched banks my sophomore year of college.  They offered it to me as a form of overdraft protection.  I had a low credit limit.  It wasn't a problem, at first.  I spent within the limit and did an ok job of paying the whole balance when the statements came.  Then I got a letter saying that my credit limit had been increased.  Consciously, I knew this was bad news that only looked like good news.  Subconsciously, I felt free, limitless, even.  I had never had as much spending power as was offered to me by that higher credit limit.

Around that same time, I was working at the mall and business became sparse.  I didn't get scheduled much.  With no income to match my shopping "needs", I started relying on my card more and more.  My credit limit increased as well and pretty soon, I was at my limit with a sky-high interest rate.  In an attempt to gain control of the situation, I transferred the whole balance to a new card with a 0% interest rate for a year so that I could pay off the balance without getting any new interest added, or so I planned.  Instead of leaving the first card alone, I slowly build up a balance again.  I found myself with two maxed out credit cards and one store card that carried a balance.

I wish I'd been smarter about spending and not let myself use credit cards.  I'm hoping to pay down close to 75% of the balance on my cards in the next year.  I have a goal to move to a big city at the end of my current lease and don't want to have to worry about the cards as much.

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