One Down, Two to Go

Stop me if you’ve heard this. I thought I’d told this story but I’m not finding it in my archives.

When I was about seven years old, Scornful Mother asked her boss if she could do the Janitorial work for her office of about 35 people for extra income.  Now, for SM this amounted to coming straight home after work and picking up the three of us kids, taking us out to eat at our then favorite restaurant, Bill Knapp’s, and then taking us back to her office where she put us to work.   She sat at her desk at the front and did who knows what while we cleaned.  I won’t go into all the crap feelings that surround that topic, but what I want to say is that even from a young age, I have always felt like it was stupid that she took us out to eat before taking us to “her second job”, effectively canceling out the additional income with the additional expense.

Dead Beat Dad, who was raised by parents who did seem to think that how other people in their lives spent money was somehow their business never hesitated to express his own judgment at Scornful Mother’s penchant for taking us out to eat and then complaining about not having enough money.  It’s funny how, despite my own feelings on the subject, I have the inherent need to defend her.  “She was raising three kids on a secretaries salary.”  “She worked all day and had to feed three kids, at night.  Who wouldn’t rather go out to eat than have to come home and cook after that?”

There was a disconnect in the story for me.  I remember Scornful Mother taking us to the grocery store.  We had to walk around in a single file line behind her and not touch anything, including each other.  I remember the grocery cart being filled to the top.  What was happening to all this food if we were eating out all the time.

A couple years ago, I happened to be in the same place with Dead Beat Dad and CPA Sis, and somehow this topic came up.  CPA Sis told him, “What you don’t know is that she’d have panic attacks about writing such a big check, spending so much money all at once.  She’d get to the front with her full cart and she’d experience anxiety about it and have to leave the cart behind, without buying any of the groceries.”

I never knew this.  From a rational perspective this seems ridiculous to me.  I know it’s not good money management, and yet I can understand it…

credit-card-debtIt is my goal for 2009 to pay off my credit cards and have no debt aside from my car payment which I do want to pay ahead on and get completely out of debt ASAP.  I received a very large income tax refund this year.  Not enough to completely pay off my debt, but a large amount all the same.

I’ve already written a check to Green M&M to pay off all the money that I know I owe her.  (Over the years there have been lots of loans which will never be repaid.)  I’m just waiting for the check to go through the bank.  Part of my “new leaf” has meant keeping close track of my expenditures, how much I’ve spent, when I spent it and when it comes through, and how much I have left to spend.

I just went on to the website for the credit card with the highest balance (and interest).  The balance on the account was $887.05.  I knew I needed to pay it off.  I knew it was a financially sound decision.  I knew I had to do it… And still, my finger hovered over the mouse button for several seconds before I clicked “submit”, with thoughts going through my head like, “But this is 65% of the money I have to spend.”  and “I won’t have any money left after I pay these off.”  Suddenly, I had a flash of understanding about what it must have been like for Scornful Mother at the prospect of writing those “big” checks at the grocery store.

I’m proud to say, I clicked the submit button, and in that one move, I wiped out a third of my credit card debt!  Yay, me!

Now, If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to cuddle up in the corner and wait for my pulse to return to normal and cry it out!

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