The mail today tells me that my paycheck will be $152 fatter next Friday, and every Friday thereafter. YAY!!!
No, I didn't get a raise. I got a garnishment. YAY! Wait, no. You're not supposed to YAY! for that. BOO!!! HISS!!! That's what goes there.
I got divorced once upon a time. Divorce brings bad things, mostly debt and tears and moving and new jobs. The debt part? That's the worst - especially when going from a comfortable $80K dual income to a lowly $24K single income. It took a while to get back on my feet, and shit fell behind. Later, when I finally found gainful employment, I was so afraid of how big the problem had become that I did what I usually do - I ignored it completely and hoped it would go away. And it did, sorta, for a while. And then it caught up with me, in the form of a $1300 garnishment that wiped out my savings and checking accounts last summer, followed up by a garnishment order that sent $152 of my paycheck each week to people who needed the money worse than me (a bank, of course).
It's been less than a year, and it's all paid off. I couldn't imagine trying to put more than $5K into savings, but in less than a year, I managed to whittle away a $6K+ debt, and I didn't end up on the streets because of it! Of course, it helps that I have very few living expenses; Jimi and I split the bills 50/50, my car is paid off, my company pays for my cell phone. But still - $600 a month is a fucking lot of money. It's more than my half of the mortgage. And I survived!
I think now the best thing to do would be to put that $152 a week into my savings account, because if I can live without that $600 each month, then I probably should try to continue to do so. That'll pay for one hell of a vacation next summer. Or an awesome gift for Jimi's 40th birthday. Or both!
Take this as a lesson, kids: Pay your fucking bills on time. They will find your ass, and they will make you pay. Oh yes, they will. And you will be ashamed and embarrassed and will forever regret those four beers at Petrus that you charged on your Visa because you only had 57 cents in your checking account. And then, when you're older and wiser and more sober, you'll think "What the Fuck was I thinking?! I could've gone to Europe!!!"
In case you're wondering, yes, I learned my lesson. I pay cash for everything I buy - if I don't have the money in the bank, I can't buy it. For 4 years, that's been my way of life. I can't remember how I ever lived any other way. (I wish I didn't have to state the obvious, but yeah, my credit is shit. This cash-only lifestyle began from necessity, not because I had a vision or anything.)
I seriously question the wisdom of putting this out there for the world to know, because it's pretty fucking personal and really, it's the single most embarrassing thing ever in my whole entire life. I'm ashamed of the financial mistakes I've made, mostly because I absolutely was not raised that way. My parents preached to me the importance of good credit and honoring my word by paying my bills on time - but somehow I became one of THOSE people anyhow. But that's why I have to write this, because getting that letter saying my debt was cleared, it's a really big deal for me.
I've come a long way in the last 5 years - my life is so much more than I ever could've dreamed. Clearing the books, wiping the slate clean, it feels like I'm shedding the last pieces of my "before" life, and it reminds me to fully embrace everything that's good and wonderful about this, my "after" life.
Please don't make fun of me or be mean, okay?