Are You Too Comfortable with Your Debt?

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Other than an aunt and uncle who recently paid off their mortgage, I don’t know anyone in real life who is completely debt free. Literally every person I can think of (I went through my Facebook friends list) has some combination of student loans, credit cards, car loans, personal loans, and/or a mortgage. Many of my friends have all of the above.

When all my friends and family carry debt of some kind, sometimes it’s hard for me to remember why I’m working so hard to become debt-free someday. Now that I’ve paid off my credit cards, all I have left is my car loan and student loans. I don’t have the income to throw huge chunks of money at either of those, so I’ve just kind of settled into a sense of complacency. I’m not drowning anymore, I’m not overdrawing my bank account, and I couldn’t tell you the last time I ran out of money between paydays. I’m doing pretty good, right?

Except I’m not. Because I’m still in debt.

Ever since I paid off my credit cards and changed jobs, I’ve gotten out of the habit of finding extra money to go toward debt payments. Some of this was expected - I no longer earn a salary, so my income fluctuates - but some of it is just me thinking it’s okay. I’ve become comfortable with the idea of having a car payment and student loans instead of staying angry at my debt. I’ve hesitated to calculate a debt-free date or any of the stuff most people do because it’s not bothering me as much as it should be.

Are you too comfortable with your debt?

Debt repayment is exhausting at times. For awhile, it’s easy to get excited because you’re knocking out the little piddly debts pretty quickly. But how do you stay motivated when the only remaining debts are so massive you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel?

Here are a few signs you might be getting comfortable, as well as some ways to get your payoff mojo back:

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Not Quite a Rock Star

In case you missed it, yesterday was kind of a big day for me. One of my posts was featured on The Consumerist, which is one of my FAVE websites. And my traffic exploded - I’m talking over 3000 pageviews in 12 hours. It normally takes almost a week to get that many people interested in what I have to say!

Money for Nothing (and your chicks for free)

I would be embarrassed to tell you how many times I refreshed my stats yesterday. (Hint: A bunch. Difficulty: I did leave the computer a few times to pee and/or get food.) I’ll admit I was totally obsessed with my magic instant popularity - I even called my mom, who doesn’t even know the name of this blog, to fill her in on the progress.

Me: My site was mentioned on The Consumerist and now all these people are looking at it!

Mom: Oh, that online writing thing you do? And it was mentioned where?

Me: OMG Mom, my traffic just jumped by 150 views in the last three minutes!

Mom: I still don’t understand. What’s jumping? Is this that dancing baby video from Ally McBeal?

Me: Why don’t you understand? I’m finally becoming awesome!

Mom: Well, I’m cleaning out closets. I bet it would be pretty AWESOME if you did the same, especially if your closets look like they did when you still lived at home.

Me: *mimes stabbing self in head* I am so done with this conversation.

To make things even more awesome, I got a #FF mention from @GRSblog on Twitter! AND someone submitted one of my posts to Reddit! I’ve never had so many cool things happen at the same time. I’m surprised my site didn’t crash or something.

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

By about 9 last night, I was feeling pretty good about life. I was reaffirmed in my decision to lay out my personal and financial life for the world to see. I didn’t receive any hate mail or “worst blog in the world” comments.

Then I did the dumbest thing EVER.

I was working on a post for tomorrow, something hilarious that came to me while I was eating too much pizza. I had to type out a bunch of senseless drivel before I forgot the point I was trying to make.

I hit the button to save my draft because I was too tired to make any sense. Plus I had to check my stats again do a few more things before bed.

Except I didn’t hit Save Draft. I hit Publish. And didn’t realize it for like five minutes.

So if you’re one of the 136, 179, or 211 people subscribed to my RSS feed (depending on Feedburner’s current mood and whether Jupiter is in the fifth house), you likely saw a crazy ass post in its infant form. I thought I managed to get rid of it, but RSS readers don’t like to give posts back no matter how nicely you ask.

Don’t Bring Me Down

I don’t even know if I can describe how embarrassing it is that people saw my random thoughts before I had a chance to string them together. It’s kind of like when someone walks in on you sitting on the toilet. Part of you wants to be all nonchalant, like “Hey, what’s up?” and another part wants to jump up midstream and cover your nether regions before you die of humiliation.

First, I thought I would finish my partial post, but I don’t know if I can - now that people have seen it in raw form, it seems stupid to post it. So instead I decided to tell you about it (at the risk of drawing MORE attention to it) in an attempt to move on.

I did install a plugin that will prevent me from posting a draft ever again. So there’s that.

But I still feel like a total noob for making such a dumb mistake.

The Heart of Rock n Roll is Still Beatin’

No matter how cool it is that some extra visitors stopped by, those of you who read regularly know that I’m just an average person who is trying to correct some HUGE mistakes in my life.

I’d love to be a blogging rock star. I can just imagine a world where I have 3000+ pageviews EVERY day, not just on what must have been a slow news day at The Consumerist. It would be amazing to have large numbers of people willing to read all the crap I talk about.

But I’m just me. And like my finances, my blog is subject to screwups every now and then. So I’ll sit around feeling like an idiot for awhile, then I’ll think about how awesome this whole blogging thing has been (even before I became super popular for a day). I have some of the greatest blogger friends in the world, who will undoubtedly tell me not to worry about the draft posting thing (after they’ve finished laughing hysterically) and will distract me on Twitter and chat.

I just hope they don’t mind reading posts from a one-hit wonder.

Oh, Victoria’s Secret. You Crack Me Up.

Remember last week when I applied for (and got) a Victoria’s Secret credit card? Well, it came in the mail on Tuesday. (And I paid off the balance, in case you’re wondering. Oh, and the bra worked out, too.)

When I called to activate the card, I had to listen to this long spiel about some kind of protection program that will pay off my balance if I get attacked by wolverines or get fired for blogging on the job. And it only costs $1.99 for every $100 charged to the card! I’m like, “No, I’m not interested,” which means the poor girl had to read the whole script AGAIN since I obviously didn’t understand what I was turning down. The second time I’m like, “I’m not going to carry a balance anyway,” which was a mistake because then she got all excited and told me I wouldn’t have to pay the $1.99 if I didn’t have a balance. And started reading the script a third time.

Finally, I interrupted her and said, “Look, if I have to go through all this to activate the card, I changed my mind. I don’t want to activate it.” Apparently that’s the magic phrase because she shut up and told me my card is now active. I logged into my account, paid off my balance, and now the card is put away in the place where unused credit cards go to gather dust.

For kicks, I decided to look at all the crap that came with the card. And I’m both disgusted and impressed by the marketing techniques VS (I first typed BS, ha!) uses to make sure you use your Angel card.

1. Monthly coupons for cardholders only.

For the month of September, I can get a FREE hiphugger or thong panty. All I have to do is use my VS card to buy something else! However, if I use the coupon online, I’m limited to the gross boring colors - white, beige, or black. Because they want me in the store, where I’ll see the cute colors and want them instead, plus the matching accessories and OMG this perfume smells awesome! Yeah, I see what they’re doing there. And there’s a coupon for every month, all of which offer a similar “deal.”

2. Rewards.

I get 12 reward points for every dollar I charge on my card! And if I save up 1250 of them (meaning I’ve charged about $105), I can get a FREE gift from the satin series in the reward store! What does THAT get me?

Random stuff that I don’t really need. Like a teeny little sample size perfume. And a “cosmetic bag” that probably holds the sample size perfume. Sure, I’ll take it if I ever earn it (I have 935 points right now per the website) but do people really buy stuff just to earn a dinky little something for free? You bet they do! Oh, P.S. You have to redeem your reward points within 60 days or you lose them. OMG I better buy a bunch of stuff before I lose my points!!! (kidding)

3. The “VIP Upgrade”

After I charge $250 on my VS card, I’ll be magically upgraded to the Angel VIP card. It’s sleek and black instead of girly pink, it’s “even more exclusive” (whatever that means) and I get DOUBLE POINTS FOR A WHOLE MONTH!

4. The Less Emphasized Details

Shoved in the envelope behind all the pretty glam market crap was a yucky white paper with all the details about the VS card. Which I’m sure most people throw away.

24.99% APR for purchases. Ho. Lee. Crap.

$35 late payment fee. Gee, would you like my firstborn child as well? A limb, maybe? I’ll just pay on time, thanks.

So what does all this teach us, kids?

In my former life, I would have been SO flattered to receive such an amazing offer. And I know how dumb that sounds, but I totally bought into messages like “Let the indulgence begin” (inside the pamphlet) and words like free and exclusive. As I said when I applied for the card, I’m not a huge underwear shopper, but I probably would have become one if this had happened a few years ago.

These days, I don’t need a bunch of underwear or card-related perks to make me feel special. I’m pretty darn cool on my own. Sometimes anyway.

When we attach our self-worth to the stuff we own, debt is second nature.

You can be a fun, amazing person without spending a dime. The sooner you figure that out, the sooner you can get over your debt and move on. If you need to belong to an “exclusive” club, I’ll make you a So Over Debt VIP card. Every time you DON’T buy anything, you get the satisfaction of knowing you didn’t buy into the hype.

5 Fairy Tales That Keep You in Debt

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, you’ve probably spent some time asking yourself, “How the heck did I get into this mess?” In fact, you might be reading this because you googled a variation of that question.

For a species that is supposed to be intelligent, we sure make some dumb choices at times! Many of us have difficulty understanding the reasons behind our mistakes, especially those that cost us in the long run. We can’t figure out how we make so many wise decisions every day, like wearing seatbelts and not peeing in our pants, yet mess up in the area that matters most - our finances.

Lest you think I’m pointing fingers, I’m including myself when I say “we.” Because I have spent years doing the whole “swim against the tide” thing - paying my minimum payments, trying to figure out how to survive until I get paid again, watching my paycheck drain away the second it hits the bank… Yep, been there. Luckily I’m pretty much done with that part of my life, but not before I nearly drove myself insane trying to get to the root of the problem.

I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your bank balance down!

As children, we grow up surrounded by stories, songs, and movies that are supposed to teach us lessons about life. We all know what happened to the boy who cried wolf. We know you aren’t supposed to take a shower or say “I’ll be right back” when there’s a killer on the loose. And if your bedridden grandma suddenly develops fangs? Forget about it - you’re going to drop that picnic basket and run like hell.

Unfortunately, while we’re basking in the glory of all that media goodness as kids, many of us absorb some lessons that aren’t so helpful. And while we don’t sit around going, “Wow, my Visa is maxed out again! I knew I shouldn’t have watched that episode of Spongebob,” we can learn a lot about our adult financial choices from the stories we heard when we were young.

Not buying it? Check out these fairy tales and their unintended messages..

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