The Post Where I Eat an Entire Package of Skinny Feels: Celebrating Debt Milestones

skinny feels

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

Hmmm. Really??

How about, “No shiny crap looks as good as control feels.”

I’m talking about the sense of control you feel when you, and you alone, decide how you spend the limited time you have left on this earth. That’s one of my life goals.

As of yesterday, I have paid off a tad over half of my credit card debt. Last year, my credit card debt was at an all time high of $30,340. My current balance is now $15,000.00!  Yes, this credit card is half-dead and running for it’s life.

gazelle chasing cheetah

Ha! Resistance is futile, you evil little card.

After some fits and starts last year (i.e. losing my job and being unemployed for 3-4 months, and later  after getting a new job in another state, moving into my current overpriced apartment  out of desperation), I’m finally back on track with my debt paydown.

I haven’t decided what, if anything, I’ll do to celebrate this midway milestone.

I know that in 8 months or so when this infernal credit card is finally paid off  IN FULL,  I am going to celebrate by doing the one thing I haven’t been able to justify doing in the past 10 years. I’m going to take an international trip!

Most Americans have small to medium debt loads (excluding mortgage) that can be paid off in 2-3 years of “Gazelle Intensity”. Sacrificing our wants for 2-3 years is not fun, by very doable.


For those of us with massive debt ($100,000 +), the challenge becomes learning how to delay gratification without delaying life.

We can’t delay life for 10 years. I’m talking to those of us in our mid-30s and up. I’m 39. I can’t afford to delay life for another 10 years while I tackle this student loan debt and save for retirement. That’s a deferred life plan. I regret not using my passport for a decade. The reason was entirely financial. I’ve had too much debt, and not enough money for a long time.  I still have too much debt and not enough money, but while debt payoff is important, I’ve realized that living life is also important.  I’m learning the meaning of “balance”.


Minimalism is teaching me to identify the top things I value the most and to put my energy in those places. For me, travel is one of those things.  While travel is absolutely fun and fruitful at every stage of life, there are some things you can get away with, and some venues that are open to you only when you are younger (in your twenties and to a lesser extent into your thirties). I want to travel now and I want to keep traveling.

For those of you who are also deep in debt and a little ‘less young’, it is important that you plan and celebrate debt milestones by doing those precious few things that you value the most, whatever they may be.

I’ll save up and pay for my trip up front in cash of course. That almost goes without saying.  I’m about 70% decided on where I want to go, but I have a list of places I’ve been wanting to see for the past 10 years, so my first destination is not certain. However, wherever I land, it will be someplace awesome.


And you know what? They are right. Skinny Feels are freaking delicious!


“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)

Credit Card Progress and Annoyances


When will it end?! I’m done with evil credit card companies!



My current credit card current balance is now $17,990.00! Yes, I’m actually happy about this.  It hasn’t been this low in years, and I’m very happy to finally turn the corner on the $20’sK to now be in the $10’sK.

I got a small year-end bonus at my job, which I was very pleased to get. I promptly applied every penny of it (what was left of it after taxes), to my credit card debt.




I got a routine monthly statement from my old credit card company a couple of days ago. This is the old credit card with a 19.9% interest rate that I paid off months ago with balance transfers to two 0% interest cards. Thank goodness I opened the email to verify my $0 balance. What I saw instead was that I now had small balance on the card for $3.99.  What?! Where did that come from?

After some investigation, I realized that I had bought a book on Amazon several months ago on this credit card, but never received it because the release date kept getting pushed out. I remember getting that book eventually, but ultimately sending it back for a refund. I got the refund. However, it did not cover return shipping, hence the $3.99 balance on my credit statement.

Ok. I open the credit card app and pay the bill, or at least I try to. Error message. The payment system will not let me make a payment for under $5.  What?!   Sigh. Fine.  I’ll pay the $5 and deal with having a credit on my account.  Nope. Error message. The system will not let me pay $5 because it is more than 7% over the $3.99 balance.  What?!  Really?!  So I guess the only way out of this is to charge something else on the card to raise the balance and then pay the whole thing off. Sneaky, sneaky.  So that is what I have done.

Grrr. Things like this reinforce my bad experiences with credit cards and particularly with this credit card company.  The silver lining, if you can call it that, is that at least this will show some activity on my account. I’ve read that not having any activity on your credit card can give companies grounds to lower your limit or close it.  I don’t want that to happen on this card – not because I will ever use it again – but because credit scores are important in the super competitive rental market out here. Even private, independent landlords require your credit report as a part of your application. This is also by far and away my oldest credit card, so getting it shut down would adversely affect my credit score.  [Edit: I’m now learning that landlords are more interested in potential tenant payment history on the report than in the credit score itself, so I may not need to be too concerned.]



Patience, grasshopper…

No matter how much progress I make, I’m frustrated that I can’t pay it off faster.  I know that it took me years to get into this debt and it will take time to get out of it, so I need to learn patience.  I’m just ready for all this money that I spend on debt every month to instead go into investment vehicles that will result in earned interest, not paid interest.


“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)

5 Reasons to be Thankful for Your Debt

I’ve been thinking about my financial situation a lot. And lest I come across as a Winnie Whiner, I started thinking about what I have to be thankful for. Out of every adversity there is growth and development. Here are five things that those of us in debt can be thankful for:

5. You Learn Patience. 


If you don’t have the money, then you’d better have the time. When you are broke, you learn to adjust your life to other people’s schedules. You can’t go to work until the bus shows up at your stop. You can’t leave the party until the person who drove you there is ready to leave.

I have ‘The Hunger Games’ on queue at my local library. I didn’t get to see it while it was in theaters, obviously, because I’m in debt. I added it to my checkout queue a couple of weeks ago. Today, it’s in position 331 on the Hold list. I won’t be watching it for a while.

When you are back on your feet financially, you’ll have more options. But until then, patience, Grasshopper.

Just don’t wait too long…

waiting too long

4. You Can Forget About Keeping Up with the Joneses.

faux mansion

They won. Let them feel smugly superior. They’re probably broke too, or will be soon.

You are now free to plan to really be rich, instead of just looking rich.

Oh, and the Joneses usually have tacky taste so you’re better off not trying to be like them anyway.

3. You Learn What’s Really Important


When freed of all the pressure to compete, and purged of all of the plastic crap that we’ve been conditioned and socialized to stuff into our lives, you have the space to think about what you want your future to be like and feel like.

This is an opportunity that many never experience. Take advantage of it.

2.  You Learn the Harsh Truth about Personal Finance


Remember the Animal Kingdom shows you watched as a child where you learned how animals get their food? Well hitting your financial rock bottom and living behind the bars of debtor’s prison do nothing if not teach you about the Financial Kingdom. There are predators and prey.

Those of us who were too slow or immature to learn the rules of the financial game were easy targets. Those who earn interest grow financially fat off of those of us who pay interest. Once you learn that cold simple truth and realize what years of interest payments have done to your financial future, you become angry and do something about it. You make a change. Those of us who are digging out of debt are choosing to be financial victors not victims.

And the number one reason to be thankful for being in debt.

1. No One Asks You for Money

crumpled dollar bill

Well, no one asks you for money except for homeless people. Little do they know that they are the rich ones in any interactions with us. They are poor and have no money, but they rarely have debt either. That’s something to aspire to.

So there you have it – five reasons to be thankful for your debt.  Remember that there are silver linings to every cloud.


“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)