When I was in school, I had a relationship with credit cards that rivaled any Taylor Swift song. The infatuation was instant, and like any great love, I felt like I could conquer the world that piece of plastic in my palm.
The relationship was give and take, of course, and eventually the honeymoon period ended and I was over my head nearly $10,000 in consumer debt.
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
The first step to ending any toxic relationship is to get out of it, but as with most affairs of the heart (and wallet), this is easier said than done.
I tried not using my cards, but I relapsed frequently. An unexpected expense would come up, and as a student with a limited part-time income, I defaulted to credit to carry me through. This is like texting your ex at a particularly vulnerable moment: It never ends well.
Eventually, I just had to remove the cards from my wallet and shove them in the back of my sock drawer. I found this was sufficient to keep me from using them, but I would encourage you to freeze yours or cut them up if you’re really prone to self-sabotage. (Side note: The same tactics are not recommended for an ex-boyfriend.)
It Takes Time to Heal a Broken Heart
Much like life post-break-up, ending things with your credit addiction is boring and riddled with heartache. I was too broke to go out with my friends. I didn’t get any new clothes or gifts for myself. I spent my Friday nights at home watching episodes of LOST and eating ice cream—the no-name brand, since Haagen Daaz was too rich for my blood.
In the end, it got better. I paid down the balance a little bit at a time, and then gathered momentum, aggressively throwing hundreds of dollars at the bill every time I could. It took nearly two and a half years, but eventually I didn’t owe anything anymore and I was free. I still had student loans (I was still in school), but my bout with consumer debt was over and I had no interest falling back into that toxic love affair again.
You’ll Fall in Love Again With Someone Better for You
The benefit of leaving a relationship behind is it gives you the opportunity to enter a new one. Once I finished paying my credit card debt, I had money to invest.
Instead of feeling like I was caught in a vicious cycle, I felt like I was moving forward in a clear direction. I fell in love with saving money—and it loved me back. Even though we haven’t been together long, I feel this will be a love that stands the test of time.
Have you broken up with credit or another financial habit you felt was no good for you? Let us know how you did it.