I was on facebook sticking my nose into everyone else’s business when Suger Coat It‘s latest post popped up into my feed. She was talking about her relationship with credit cards, paying off debt and sharing a few lessons she’d learnt along the way. Instantly I was inspired.
You know when you read a great blog post and then you find yourself writing paragraph after paragraph in the comments, almost hijacking the entire post? Well that’s what I almost did so I messaged Suger to let her know I wanted to share her message about money on my own blog along with my own tales. Strap yourself in ladies you’re about to know a little too much about our financial situations…
I met Steve when I was 17, before I was even eligible for a credit card and throughout our marriage we’ve learnt (slowly) about money and how to manage it. I was 19 when Steve was deployed to the Middle East and I was in charge of sorting his bills whilst he was gone. It was a huge leap of faith to put all his money in my hands but with the money I’d managed to pay off his car and put a little into savings and he was impressed.
When he came back he asked me to marry him. He also managed to write off the car when driving along the Stuart Highway at night, two Buffalo wandered onto the road and he hit them. He had insurance but it still meant we were back in the red. Two weeks later Steve’s mother died, just a week before we’d planned to travel down and announce our engagement. We handled the costs of the funeral.
Suddenly we were engaged and we were already in debt. Neither of us had any assets, no family fortune and Steve was on an basic military income, nothing flashy. My passion was photography but Uni was out of the question, the thought of more debt when I was nervous and unsure about my abilities made me feel ill. I stuck to retail, I sold body shop product parties, I even ended up managing an adult store or two and hosting hens nights. I did what I could, I just hadn’t found my calling.
Steve changed jobs, we moved interstate, we planned our wedding and we tried to have a baby. We rarely saved, instead living from pay to pay. We invested in health insurance (which eventually paid off big time thanks to my poor gyno health and TTC journey) and we tried our best to pay off our credit card. I DIY’d almost every aspect of our wedding to keep costs low. It came to $8,000 all up for the wedding and $6,000 of that was for a 45 person wedding reception at the Sebel Resort, Hawkesbury.
After the wedding we looked at our accounts and were horrified. We consolidated our debt and it came to a little over $35,000 (new car, funeral, wedding, gyno surgery, misc) and as scary as that number is to look at now I’m immensely proud to say than in six months it will be paid off. More importantly a lesson has been learnt… with interest.
Steve has a credit card with $0 owing and it doesn’t get used except for when he travels overseas. I have a tiny low interest credit card that I haven’t used since 2009 that I’ve almost paid off and will be paid off in full once the large loan is gone. Why am I telling you all this? Well I, just like Suger, talk about shopping quite a lot and I don’t want you to get the impression that I’m rolling in money. This is me, trying to keep it real. If I don’t have cash I don’t buy.
I’ve often gawked at fashion blogger’s latest shopping hauls and thought to myself “How the hell did they pay for all that?” and yes I know some things are gifted but not all of it. For my purchases I use my debit card, my own money, not the “family” money. If I have a little extra cash that’s not going towards a bill or an upcoming trip I’ll splash out. Yes, I’m aware that maybe I should be putting even more cash into paying off my credit card or at the very least putting it into a high interest savings account (I do have one) but I also want to live and as shallow as this might sound, I find a little bit of joy in shopping.
When I find something I love (which is usually online) and my natural urge is to click BUY NOW I stop myself and run through my mental “approval checklist” before committing. Do I need it? Where will I wear it? Is it made of cheap fabric? What would the resale value be? Would the cut/design/print really suit me?… etc etc etc. Sometimes this process can take weeks, depending on how many times I put it in my cart and try to justify the expense. 70% of the time I never end up going through with it.
Honestly I wish sometimes that I was still ignorant when it comes to clothes, that’s weird coming from a fashion blogger right? Before I didn’t really care where I shopped, if it was alright looking and suited my budget I’d buy it. Now I’ve come across so many new designers, gorgeous fabrics, new cuts to suit my shape and not to mention I’ve developed a deep love for prints and absolutely anything embellished… this has meant that I’ve started to see my wardrobe as an investment and there is no room for anything less.
This is why I’m doing the big ruthless “Closet Clear Out” at the moment. Everything is going and I’m only keeping what looks great on me, on my body. For the past two, three years I’ve experimented with trends, with shapes and with fabrics and I think I’ve now finally got a handle on what I like. This has made buying easier would you believe it. The tug of war that I had with my shopping cart is gone, I can now easily define whether or not that garment would work. If it really works and it’s really expensive I can see the value in saving for it or putting it on layby. Just “because I can afford” it is no longer an option for my wardrobe.
I know this post is a little all over the place but just know that I’m not a millionaire, I don’t spend all my husbands money on make up and dresses (I spend my own), I use a debit card for online purchases, I consult my mental checklist before I make a purchase and I consider my wardrobe in it’s entirety before I add to it. I also op shop and find rare gems every now and again. I know I sometimes feature expensive things on my blog, some I wouldn’t have even considered splurging on in the past but I can tell the difference in their value and appreciate that now and I just like to share that with you.
How do you keep your bank balance and wardrobe happy?