So I would wave a white flag, but I can't afford one. I give up!
Does living on a single income ever get easier? Let me correct that, does surviving on a single income ever get easier? The term "paycheck to paycheck" is used to describe a lifestyle, or a cycle. I am beginning to think this term refers to a choice. Certain choices I have made in the past 5 years, like opening a credit card account(s), are now forcing me to make certain choices today...gas or groceries.
Five years ago... (Queue blurry screen and twinkle flashback noise).
I was 23, a recent college grad, working my first "big girl" job. I was living at my parents-yes I was a boomerang child-they sent me out but I came right back. It was my dream to own my own home, and be financially independent. I am sure that was my parent's dream as well. So I made it happen, I saved up enough money for a down payment on a house and I moved out. I was living the American dream-sans the white picket fence.
After living in my new place for about three months, one evening I came home to an inch of standing water in my entry way. I had the natural reaction that any young girl living on her own would; I cried and called my dad. He talked me off the ledge, welcomed me to homeownership and told me we would make a trip to Home Depot to look at our options. There was one minor detail...it was going to cost me about $400 to replace and install the new unit. I didn't have $400 saved and being the financial independent person I was, it was only obvious that I had to take out store credit to pay for it. Duh. Well, soon enough that became my answer for several things… “needing” a new flat screen TV, or “needing” a new mattress for the upstairs bedroom etc…it was amazing, not only how easy it was to take out credit, but how suddenly there were thousands of dollars’ worth of things I just couldn’t live without. You know a new dining room light fixture, a new dishwasher since mine wasn’t trendy and especially every season of How I Met Your Mother on DVD. Good thing I have all of these things, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to breathe.
So I humbly admit my defeat. After 5 years of fighting it, I am ready to admit I need help. I have gotten in way over my head and my measly income just isn’t cutting it anymore. I need a raise…oh wait I just got one and all that did was give me an excuse to spend more money. So how do I get out of this mess? Where do I go from here? Financial Advisors cost money, the bank charges me money for not having money and I wholeheartedly admit I don’t have the discipline to use aggressive tactics. Making minimum payments each month isn’t getting me anywhere. And not to mention the damn credit card companies that want to keep me underwater! It’s not enough that I cut up the cards and throw as much money at them each month as possible; they still send me paper checks to use in lieu of the card I just demolished! It’s like some credit card guru is sitting behind his desk puppeteering my financial demise, “Let’s make her choose between eating and driving this month!” (Insert evil laugh and hairless cat strokes).
Please folks, I don’t need you to feel badly for me. I am taking full responsibility for my 23 year old ignorance. I got myself in this and I can/will get myself out. It is only a matter of time. What I wish I could have done is taken a crash course in how to save money, I wish I would have been told the evils of credit cards, and I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all disappear. I wish, I wish, I wish.
I figure I have several options:
1. I take my chance on the Powerball.
2. I forego all of the luxuries a 28 year old should have, like clothes for work and a social life.
3. I marry a 90 year old sugar daddy and kill him in his sleep (only after ensuring I was in the will).
4. I give up and move to Mexico to wax surfboards for minimum wage and live with Mexican nuns.
5. I sell my organs (just the ones I don’t need) on the black market.
Or 6. I work hard at getting my debt paid off and remain grateful for all of the things I do have.
I like number 6 (Although 3 and 4 seem appealing). It is hard not to feel deflated by the overwhelming amount of debt I have, but what pumps me back up is the fact that regardless of what the bank account says, The Lord (and my parents) miraculously provides for my basic needs. When I think I have no chance of getting what I want I usually don’t. But the more I rely on the Lord-I am comforted in knowing He will grant me what I need and at a more necessary time. I keep the big picture in mind, knowing none of these issues matters in the long run, none of this comes with me when I die, and I am rich with love from those in my inner circle. Is that not all we need- to be rich with love? Charlie lived in the smallest, most dilapidated house with his family and yet he was happier and filled with more love than Willy Wonka who lived in a mansion by lonely and by himself with nothing but his candy and freaky midgets to keep him company.
So I guess I take it back, I am rich! I have the love of my family, true friends, and my whole life to live! Not survive… but truly live for each day, from this day forward.