I did it! I paid off my last credit card debt a few weeks ago and have a small, but building emergency fund in place.
I had been carrying about $2,000 in credit card debt off an on the last few years. I just kept shuffling it around to 0% interest cards and getting close to paying it off, but then something would happen and bam, still in debt.
It was a cycle I was struggling to break. While I didn’t really hurt me in terms of debt/income ratio, my credit score, or fees (0%), it was costing me mentally. I had so much anxiety over that debt weight I was dragging around.
I don’t think I’m alone in the cycle of getting debt free only to go right back into debt because:
The car broke down (needs tires, etc)
The dog got sick (cat, etc)
I’ll never find it (whatever it may be) this cheap again!
I’m on vacation (which is paid for) but I somehow come back with an extra debt load I didn’t have before.
And so on.
And then we repeat over and over again. Never having huge debt, and dismissing it because it “is so little,” but never getting out of it either.
I always resisted an emergency fund, because I never understood having my little soldiers doing nothing when they could be paying off a debt.
But then you get close to paying off your debt, and BAM something happens and you put. it. right. back. on the card.
Here is where an emergency fund really can come into play. I finally realized, as I played this back and forth game one too many times, that if I had an emergency fund I wouldn’t have to use the card. I could use the efund, and not have the demoralizing feeling of failure that comes with repeatedly running the credit card back up.
I started with a goal of $500. After I hit that, I worked towards $1,000. Then the dogs needed vet care and treatment, and the car needed a part and you know what? It ate the entire emergency fund! I was so bummed, but then I was reminded: that is what it is for. I was able to keep paying the credit card, and slowly build the efund back up, and was in a better position than I would have been had I repeated past behavior. This was different.
This happened at least 3 times this year. I’d be so close to debt free, and BAM, have to use the efund and need to rebuild it before I could increase credit card payments. But I never acquired more debt, and that is the important part. I was reticent to call myself debt free until I really crossed into no credit card debt, and had a good size efund so that I wouldn’t end right back up in debt as I have several times over the last year.
I’m confident now! Debt free human here! Emergency fund having, zero credit card balance owing, happy human.
Financial Goals for 2018:
1. Credit card debt free I DID IT!
2. Emergency fund to $1,000
3. Mortgage under $50,000
I will update as I hit the remaining goals. Cause I WILL. RIGHT?