I Haven’t Used Credit Cards In FIVE Years

Crazy, right? I seriously can’t believe it’s actually been that long.

Five years ago, after lots of back and forth, messing up, promising we’ll do better, yada, yada, yada, Gil and I got rid of ALL of our credit cards. I am proud of the progress we’ve made and our commitment to living within our means, BUT I will NEVER tell you that it’s been easy because it has been ridiculously difficult.

Gil and I can both be selfish and at times a bit entitled. Stay with me — I’m by no means proud of this, and it’s caused plenty of problems in our lives. We are both first borns, and he’s the only male of his siblings and I’m the lone lady. On my mom’s side, ALL of my cousins are male, while Gil is the only boy grandchild on both parents’ sides. I’m guessing this set us up a bit, though in the financial realm, I think we believe we have to make it on our own, never asking for help. Our younger siblings, on the other hand never hesitate to hit the parents up for money. By no means do i intend to generalize based on birth order, just emphasizing our personal experiences.

I am a fairly simple creature when it comes to material goods. I like nice things and have been told that i have expensive tastes, and while this is true, I’ve never been one to spring for the latest fads. However, when I was single, I spent the bulk of my income on travel, dining out, concerts, and various activities. I got my hair and nails done regularly, and I wasn’t necessarily cautious with my spending.

On the flip side, I was raised to be financially responsible. I maxed out my 401k at work and put little on credit cards — mostly used them for convenience for tickets and online purchases.

In his pre-married life, Gil spent most of his income on the latest technology, bar-hopping, and whatever crossed his path and sparked his interest. He admittedly is more of an instant-gratification kind of dude. Let’s just say, when we married he had plenty of credit card debt.

I remember the therapist I was seeing when Gil and I got engaged encouraging me to examine several areas during our prenuptial, lovesick fog. One in particular that she pushed was how we planned to handle finances. Naturally the two of us felt certain that our love would get us through whatever financial issue came our way, so we didn’t want to interupt our wedding planning for one second to discuss something as snooze-inducing as money.

Puleez, Dear Therapist Lady, don’t be a kill-joy. Can’t you see that we are in love? Trust me, there’s nothing a love like this can’t handle.

Thirteen years later, we should have listened to Dear Therapist Lady. So, let me just get this public service announcement out of the way:

If you’re about to get married, you need to discuss finances. There’s no way around it; differences and problems will come up. I know you’re in love, and she/he might have boocoodles of dough. I’m sorry for the lecture, but just trust me on this one.

Summer is hard for me, and please understand how much I realize what first world complaints these are. I KNOW. I’m not proud, but I struggle with shame and envy when it seems like every person I know is taking exotic trips all over the world and posting their fabulous pics all over damn Facebook.

And while our summer experiences are perfectly lovely (as I wrote about previously), there are no European vacations, wine tastings in Napa, or tropical paradises to document. We’re coming off a year of preschool tuition times two that was not exactly in our budget. We bit the bullet and put both kids in anyway because, well, it was either that or I would have had to be hospitalized — I’m only exaggerating slightly. I LOVE to travel, and there will be no big vacation for us this year, nor have we had one since 2010, and it was Disney World with toddlers. It was fun in its on way, and I’m grateful, but restful it was not. Again. I KNOW — first world problems.

I’m currently budgeting to get my hair cut and highlighted before my high school reunion in July, and it’s looking grim for the highlights after the $1000 refrigerator repairs. Sometimes being an adult just plain sucks.

Well today, after much deliberation, I upgraded to an iPhone. I’m pretty jazzed. My old phone is from the dark ages, and I’ve needed a new one for a while, but I wasn’t close to being eligible for an upgrade.

Here’s the catch. The phone is functional but has a shattered screen. Nice, I know. But, because I’m learning to make do with what I have, I decided to forgo the new phone, extra charges and upgrade fees and use the phone that Gil got to keep when he left his old company. I can’t imagine why they didn’t want the shattered screen back. So now we have a repair kit ordered and it will be here on Wednesday.

Honestly, I probably could have upgraded to a smartphone a long time ago, but not using credit cards has forced me to closely examine my choices. I’m more in tune with what is truly a need and what’s merely a luxury. I do feel like it’s time. My old phone was seriously crapping out; it wasn’t smart, as in smartphone, and I do think having Internet access on the go along with other info will make my job hunt more convenient.

I’m curious about others’ experiences with credit cards. No judgement whatsoever. Gil and I are learning what works best for us and we are by no means debt-free.

How do you handle credit cards? Do you and your significant other agree on finances?

I’m open to any advice you care to send my way.

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3 thoughts on “I Haven’t Used Credit Cards In FIVE Years

  1. I am always in awe of people who do not use credit cards! Especially the ones who have used them in the past and have managed to get to the point where they do not use them! Kudos!

    My husband and I are currently trying to pay off our credit card debt so that we can go without using them. It is incredibly difficult right now, because we are sending such a large chunk every month to the credit card companies. We are hoping that when all is paid off, this chunk can be saved and used for the things that we normally use credit cards for. I have the hardest time when it’s time to buy the kids clothes and during Christmas. I don’t usually have enough money saved up to resist using the credit card. If I didn’t have to pay the monthly bill, I would have the money saved up…catch 22. I always wonder what people do to get to that credit card free point?

    Do we agree on finances? No, not usually. I decided a long time ago that it was best for us to just have separate accounts. We have separate financial responsibilities, and while he is not necessarily satisfied with this arrangement, money is the one thing that we rarely fight about. There are some advisors who would probably think that this is not the best plan for a marriage, but dear God, we don’t need another thing to fight about!

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    • Thanks for the response. I feel a follow-up to this post coming on with more specifics. You should hardly feel “in awe” of us because many parts of the process have been pretty ugly. I’m always in awe of people who manage to keep their finances separate, but if I had it all to do over, that’s exactly how I would have gone into our marriage. I’ll do my best to post a follow-up.

      I tried several times yesterday to comment on your blog, but for some reason my comments wouldn’t go through. It’s been a busy few weeks and I haven’t kept up with blogs much, but please know how much I’m pulling for you. It’s obvious that you’re going through some tough times. I’m not a cutter, but I know that I could be. I self-destruct in other ways that to most of the world make little sense. Lots of love to you. I always love your writing — so raw and real. Keep it up!

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      • I don’t think I would ever go back to joint finances…no matter how much he tries to convince me otherwise.

        Thank you for your kind thoughts and your compliments on my writing. I am touched…I didn’t even know that you read my blog! I am sorry that your comments did not go through. I would have loved to have read what you had to say. I’m not sure what went wrong. I don’t have moderation or anything like that set up for comments, although MMS has told me that he has to put in some kind of password every time he comments. I will look into simplifying this.

        I have read your last two post but have not been able to bring myself to comment on them, because they are simply too close to home. I read them, get a lump in my throat and consequently a lump on my fingers. I cannot type a single word. Please know that my heart is with you.

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