Never let your past happiness get in the way of your future happiness

Like most mothers, I’m very good at mentally torturing myself. Mostly, I think: “If I hadn’t been so bad with the credit cards years ago, I wouldn’t have to work so hard now and may have even got to stay home with my baby.” Sometimes I even think I would have been just able to stay home and write for a living, making less money, but needing less. But I have bills to pay. And that’s the awful thing I realized about credit cards: most of the time you are sacrificing your future happiness for your immediate wants.

I’m not talking about necessary things, of course, but imagine this scenario. You want to start a new exercise regimen, so you go out and buy an expensive treadmill. Maybe it’s $2,000. To pay for it, you sign up for a store payment plan in which you can take 18 months to pay for it interest-free. But then it’s 18 months later and you still have about $1,000 left to pay off, except now you have to pay the 20% interest rate, so you may end up spending about $3,000 on this treadmill by the time it’s paid off in three years.

Meanwhile, what has happened to that treadmill? After using it for the first few months, it has become an extremely overpriced, unsightly clothing rack. Maybe you can offload it on Craigslist, and get $300 for it, but meanwhile you are still paying for it via the credit card bill.

I’m not saying this is the fate of every treadmill, but it is probably what happens to most of them. And to this I add the somewhat obvious comment of how much cheaper it would have been to just go outside and walk a bit, instead of buying the exercise equipment. No, I didn’t buy a treadmill. And I don’t know what I bought to equal the amount of credit card debt I have, but it was probably just random crap.

Since starting on this minimalist journey, I have begun looking into the best ways to pay off debt, and I recommend Ready for Zero. It’s a free site and pretty easy to use. This Christmas, I gave myself the gift of cancelling my highest interest credit card. Now I only have one, and the interest is pretty low. No, I didn’t totally pay off the other one; I just cancelled it so I can never use it again. And I have been able to decrease the debt by about half in a few months.

In the past, I’ve given into the quick fix of a bad mood, bad day, bad whatever with buying something online. Because I was only using one card for my online purchases, I could see how much I was spending a month. It was pretty scary. And I have to admit that sometimes I give in to this behavior still, but will just add items to my cart and then turn off the computer. Almost always, by the next day, I will decide that I don’t really need the item and delete it. In fact, I just checked, and I have not ordered a single thing online in the month of January!

So where is all this rambling going? I know I had a point. Here it is: Never sacrifice your future happiness for a short-term burst in happiness.

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