So yesterday morning I was hanging around the house when my phone rang. Another 800 number. Some solicitor. Sometimes I erase that kind of call without even listening to it. For some reason, I didn’t do that this time. And am I ever glad for that. It was my bank calling to ask if I’d charged $278 for a railroad ticket in Austria. NOOOOO. The closest I’ve ever come to Austria is my grandmother on my dad’s side. Then I got patched in to the Fraud Lady, who immediately closed my credit card account.
In the afternoon I went with a friend to a shopping mall. She got busy searching for a pair of jeans while I wandered aimlessly. The cash in my pocket was all I had to spend. It was an odd feeling but it also made me think twice about everything I looked at. Do I REALLY need those shoes for $65? Do I REALLY need that Annie’s pretzel with the cheese dip, which would set me back about $3.50? Could I live without the T-shirt on sale for $14? Having cash only made me think about everything. It was a great experiment that everyone should try.
But it also reminded me of a time, back in 1998, when I cut up my credit card and lived without one for five years. Why? Because I had gotten myself into credit card debt to the tune of $22K. I paid off the debt when I sold my house and then only got another card when I was truly convinced I would never get into debt again. I’m happy to report that I completely pay off my balance each month, and have done so for the past six years.