Here I go!

My name is Rachel, and I have debt. A LOT of debt. OK, maybe not as much as some people, but I have enough.  Enough that it has felt like a creeping, sneaking, heavy, disturbing, invisible monkey on my back for WAY. TOO. LONG. And actually, to be more accurate, that monkey has been hiding under the rug where I’ve been sweeping it for a while now, and it finally had enough and jumped out and bit me.  No longer can I ignore it. So, that’s why I am here at my kitchen table on a cold, stormy night in my pajamas writing my very first blog.

To make a long story short, a pretty embarrassing event a few months back was the last straw, and I knew I needed to own up to my debt and figure something out, as my usual “if I don’t look at it, it isn’t real” tactic wasn’t going to work anymore.  Hey, it works in horror movies, so why not with money, right? Oh, wait…

What was that awful, embarrassing moment, you ask? Well, I looked at my paycheck one day and saw the words “wage attachment” next to the list of money withdrawn from my check.  Clueless, I called headquarters of the company I work for to figure it out.  Again, to make a long story short, my credit card company was finally collecting what I owed them (plus insane amounts of interest, of course- we *are* talking about a credit card here!), as they were granted rights to garnish my wages by a judge….several years back. And it was now catching up to me.   Lovely.  The crazy thing is, I had almost entirely forgotten about the judgement and that this was a possibility, or rather, an inevitability.  How the hell could I forget something like that? All I can say is that I had been through such a cycle of ups and downs – financially and emotionally – with my debt that it became easier to shove it all under the rug than it was to just cowgirl up and face it.  I felt so burdened and ashamed and convinced that I could never make a dent that I didn’t know where to start, so I just didn’t.

As anyone who knows me well will tell you, I am an independent person by nature, and asking for help is not usually an easy thing for me.  I’m not bragging, in fact, I think that trait has hurt me more than it has helped when it comes to money.  I think that if I had not been so fiercely independent and not afraid to admit I made a mistake, I would have asked for help sooner.  I don’t mean help as in I should have asked for money to pay my debts, but rather asked for help in planning a way out of my debt hole.  Instead, I was so ashamed and intimidated by it that I just didn’t act, didn’t look at it at all.

But you can only run from the ugly dust bunny, er…monkey so long before it starts flinging shit at you, right? Bad analogy, I know, but that’s kinda how it has felt- a big, nasty, messy wake up call. So what’s with this blog, right? Why declare your indebtedness to the world when it isn’t something to be proud of? Well, because sometimes you have to be uncomfortable for a while if you want to change your life for the better.  And that brings me to what I will be writing about on this here blog.

After finding and following Anna Newell Jones’ blog ( a few weeks ago, I have been inspired and motivated to take some concrete action.  I have pledged to undergo a yearlong “spending fast” in 2013.  Essentially, this means that I will only be spending money on the things I really NEED, and whatever “extra” money I have left will go toward paying off my debts.  It will most definitely be a struggle at times, but if I keep in mind what I have to gain at the end -coming closer to a more independent, autonomous life without debt– I know I can do this.

Now, since the point of this blog is to keep me honest and accountable, I have to fess up.  While a big chunk of my income will be going toward my debts this year (and beyond), I am very lucky that my mother is willing and able to match my payments.  Before you yell “cheater!!”, hear me out, ok?  When I started accumulating my debt as a bright eyed and bushy tailed college freshman with my first student loan way back in the 90s (ouch!), my mom was not in a position to help me out financially.  No big deal- it was just a reality that I was going to have to take out loans and work my way through school, which I eagerly did, being the bookworm and nerd that I am.  Now I am happy to say that my mom has done well for herself, and while she is not rich, she does have more financial freedom than she did while raising me.  As I was telling her of my plans for a spending fast last month, she made it clear she wanted to help me reach my goal of a debt-free life, and I am incredibly lucky and grateful to have her financial, and most importantly, her emotional support.  Thank you so much, Mom!  So, if after that disclaimer you still call me “cheater!” – oh well, get over it.

I think that’s enough for my first post.  I plan to go into more detail in future posts about how I plan to undertake this crazy yearlong experiment in creative frugality, but for now I’ll just end with what I aim to do with this blog.  Who knows where it’ll end up, as I can go on some fun tangents and rants at times, but first and foremost, I see this blog as a way to publicly declare my spending fast goal in such a way as to (hopefully) provide a structure for both accountability and support/feedback through this process.  In other words, I’m gonna bare my guts to y’all in order to keep myself honest.  (Man, that is really quite scary!)  In the process, if you find something here that resonates with you, you’re curious about or just gets your goat, feel free to leave a comment.  I’m sure I’ll need a lot of cheerleading along the way, too, so don’t hesitate to get out your pon poms and work on your back flips.

All right, 2013, bring it on!!

Happy New Year everyone, let’s make it a great one.