Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Plastic Surgery

I've become a plastic surgeon.

I haven't used my credit cards for several months, except for the Shell gas card when I was traveling. Since committing to Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace method I'm forcing myself to become more disciplined.

Even though I haven't been using the cards they were still in my purse, my drawer, my wallet, my mind. Today I cut them up and put them in this bowl as an offering; a promise to myself that I will walk the path toward financial security and solvency no matter how difficult it may be along the way. They're now in the trash can.

The first baby step of Dave Ramsey's plan is one I have still been unable to achieve because of the divorce proceedings and spousal support issues. But I'm close! Dave wants each of us to have $1,000 in an accessible emergency fund. I'm halfway there.

I'm also up to date on all of my bills. That feels so good! I was never so far behind to have to worry about bill collectors calling me. In fact, the furthest behind I got was 90 days and even then I was making payments, just less than the minimum. I spoke to a customer service rep and explained my situation, bringing my account current. In exchange, they are not going to put the late dates on my credit report.

This is hard for me. As I've listened to the Financial Peace tapes lent to me by my friend Cathy, who is now a graduate of Financial Peace University, I realize that I'm a free spirit when it comes to money. I'm a nerd in other areas of my life, but on money issues I just couldn't wrap my head around it. Amazingly, part of my professional life was making sure my department's financial resources were actualized to their full advantage. I was our family's money manager. We were solvent even when earning little because we've never had a luxury lifestyle. The credit cards have come up as an issue in the past occasionally, but I must admit that I put quite a bit on them after my husband left me. On some subconscious level did I feel I was getting back at him? Was I thinking of anything beyond "I want that?" Was I trying to make up for the sense of loneliness, loss and failure I experienced? Was I simply uncomfortable letting him know about home maintenance needs, or vet bills, or our son's medical bills since he'd chosen to distance himself? During counseling I discovered that it was all of the above, plus a lot of other things, all resulting in my pulling out the plastic to "fix" whatever was bothering me at the time.

My husband and I were one of those couples who could never have an intelligent conversation about money. We had such different views, each certain that he/she was right. In retrospect we balanced each other in many ways, but I sure wish that we had taken a finance course early in our marriage that would have helped us communicate effectively.  

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is a slave to the lender. - Proverbs 22:7

I will not be a slave to the credit card companies any more. I will not be a slave to my own pity parties with the falsity that "I deserve" this or that. If I can't afford it, I don't deserve it. What I do deserve is the contentment of knowing that I'm becoming the very best financial steward possible.

Faithfully yours,


Laura said...

Good for you Linda! That is a big step you've taken.

Linda said...

I am able to sense your greater confidence in yourself as I read this blog! You are doing great!