Monday, May 16, 2011

I'm Rich!!! I'm Rich!!!

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?


  1. I said it once and I'll say it again, but this time I know for sure... I LOVE YOU!

    Thanks for posting this... I'm also a POS bill ignorer, but worse off than you since I have learned my lesson but have not taken care of some things. I stay on top of my current shit but with some of the old debt it's really hard to get myself to do anything about it. It is seriously embarrassing. I avoid anything that will have to bring of my ridiculously low number called my credit score. Somehow we have found a way around it, but I do wonder when it will catch up to me :( YIKES!

    Congrats on the clean slate- that must feel soooo good!

  2. Congratulations! Good work on straightening things out. It's really difficult financially after a divorce, and then the recession kicked in, so- extra special congratulations to you!!!

  3. Who-hoo!! That is AWESOME. I put a little away every week that goes into a TRAVEL ONLY fund. It's totally worth it, and you don't even notice it's gone. :)

  4. Im HORRIBLE i've got bills galore stacking up, school loans, and all types of stuff im trying to catch up on. its really annoying but im trying really hard to get it all together

  5. I'm way proud of you!! Debt bit me in the ass for a while, and it SUCKS!!! What I find funny is the word "garnish". In it's other application, it means adding a little something to make food look better. How in the world can the same word mean something so opposite in financial terms??

  6. I did the SAME THING! Ex-hubby and I had 21 credit cards between us when we got married. All of them acquired after we got married. When we divorced he took half and I took the other. I paid off mine, but he didn't so I got screwed there. Did I learn my lesson? Nope. I racked up more debt later on and thankfully, Ray still married me and loves me. It's all taken care of, finally, but yeah, I felt like a loser.

  7. Kari - 21 credit cards??? Wow.

    I have one and I use it but I pay it off every month.

    We have set up all our bills to be paid automatically on certain dates from our bank account - that way we're never late :) Direct debit is big here in the UK, I'm not sure about the US though... The last time I was back there a few years ago, people still used cheques, like paper ones... even in supermarkets... THAT was weird to see :)

  8. Nat, I'm so happy for you! We've all done stupid shit with money. It's where we go from there that matters, and it feels really good to get it under control. You're doing great!

    @LJB - Play nice.

  9. My husband and I went through a similar type of financial pride seige a couple years ago when our house in the ghetto got foreclosed on. We'd been trying to sell it on and off for 5 years but the mortgage industry back then was shady as hell and we got taken by the subprime promise of awesomeness, only to wake up one day to find that those credit cards we had to charge groceries on just to stay alive were maxed out and we were losing more everyday we held onto the place than it was worth to just walk away. A year later we filed bankruptcy. I thought that might be more difficult but it was liberating to know the whole ordeal was over. Never again will I have a credit card or let a mortgage broker talk me into something I'm not comfortable with because of the promise of big money. Good for you for paying it all off and getting your money back!


Please don't make me cry.


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