Even though I’ve been serious about personal finance for about four years, I still feel like I have so much to learn.
Since I started this blog at the end of 2008, my finances have basically been steadily improving. I paid off a lot of debt, including a couple of credit cards, my car, and a student loan. I started a Roth IRA. I started an emergency fund. I learned a lot about living frugally, eliminating unnecessary expenses, and avoiding impulse shopping. I kind of just assumed that since I’d “smartened up” about my finances, things would always be getting better. Sure, progress might be slow at times, but I thought it would always be going in the right direction.
Now I know better. I have officially taken a financial step in the wrong direction for the first time in four years. Last week I got myself into $1,200 of credit card debt.
If you read my post yesterday, you know that I recently incurred a very large bill for some veterinary care for my (now deceased) cat. Well, here’s the truth: that bill is just shy of $1,200. And it’s sitting on my credit card. And I feel really crappy about that.
To be honest, I’ve been kind of smug bitch about credit card debt for the past couple of years. I never thought that I would be in credit card debt again. I only pay off debt, I don’t incur it. I was to savvy to ever rely on a credit card to cover my ass.
Well, this past week has forced me to choke down a big slice of humble pie. The truth is, I’ve done a half-assed job of saving for emergencies, so I pretty much set myself up for this. I accept responsibility for my failure to realize how important it is to maintain a nice, fat emergency fund. So, we’ll count that as a lesson learned.
But more than learning the hard way that an emergency fund is a necessity, this whole experience has been a lesson for me about the very nature of personal finances – and by extension, life – there are ups and downs. Good times and bad times. Things don’t always go in the direction you want them to. And that’s to be expected. I’m not a failure because I had to put an emergency on my credit card (as much as I’ve kind of felt that way at times this past week). I’m only a failure if I don’t put on my big girl panties, deal with the problem, and move on.
What about you? Are you experiencing more ups or downs right now? (Feel free to post anonymously if you don’t want anything too personal attached to your name.)