Saturday, December 27, 2008

from the archives: aargh! I've maxed my credit card!

This post was the first in a long, slow, interrupted series about my battle against over-spending. You'll be glad to know that we have finally - finally! - paid off our credit card. And yes, I will be taking scissors (metaphorically at least) to that little slip of red plastic - it is about to be evicted from my wallet, and relegated to bill paying duties, perhaps to utter destruction (I haven't worked out the details yet).

Actually, I haven't maxed my credit card, but I got your attention, didn't I?

If you know me better than Jocelyn Sinclair (you know, she's minister of health in Dyslexia) then you will realise I have a long-term issue with spending more than we can afford. At least you will if:
a) you have ever been to one of my seminars;
b) we have ever talked about things we're struggling with;
c) we've ever talked about pretty much anything, actually.
As you may have realised by now, I'm a self-revelation kind of girl.

I have spent (no pun intended) the second half of this year climbing - one homebrand product at a time - out of the financial pit I dug for myself (and my endlessly patient husband) in the first half of this year, during a series of bad spending choices of such insignificance that I can't even remember them.

I have learnt how hard it is to maintain the initial impetus of that "aaargh!" moment when you look at your credit card bill, and realise that the total has passed your personal comfort levels (fairly high, in my case - it's amazing what habit can accustom you to).

If there is any one possession I would gladly relinquish (and it has taken me many, many years of soul-searching to reach this point) it is that little piece of contoured red plastic snazzily designed by Virgin. I have visions of cutting it into tiny pieces and throwing it into a pit of super-heated fire (I've thought about this a lot, haven't I?) and running away at top speed (i.e. not all that fast) only to turn and find that, like the Terminator (haven't seen that movie? you're so young/old/female) it has pieced itself back together and is still following me ... with a sub-machine gun.

No other object in my life has been responsible for so much temptation, sin, misery, guilt, self-recrimination, doubt, and so many sleepless nights and broken promises (to self, that is, I don't make the other kind any more).

So why haven't I done like Jesus said and cut it up and thrown it away? Well, I've been extremely cunning at avoiding this moment for many years, trusting instead in clever financial plans which never eventuated (perhaps if I shuffled my bank accounts around?) or in my own self-control (amazing how you can continue to believe in something so obviously lacking).

Meanwhile the bank rings me every couple of weeks and offers yet another increase to the limit on our credit card (after all, I am one of their best customers, just look at all that interest we've paid). Just think, you could buy yet more things you can't afford, with money you don't have! Your own personal ticket to greed and financial ruin!

If you have one, cut it up now! If you don't, never get one! Or you may find it following you with a hatchet, like some B-grade horror flick: "Attack of the killer..." (They're red. They're rectangular. They're deadly.).

(Of course, this may not be a temptation for you, in which case by all means keep the plastic for convenience and security, just remember what I said when you lie screaming on the ground with a chainsaw raised over you ...)


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