Thursday, January 31, 2008

How to make money!!!

That is a misleading title. This is actually about how NOT to make money. A lot of personal finance advisors will tell you that to get out of debt, you should get a second job if at all possible. I took this advice, and from March 07 to Nov 07 I worked nights for the United States Post Office as a Data conversion Operator. (You know those little barcode stickers on envelopes? The computer can read 85% of all addresses. DCOs input the rest.) It wasn’t a bad job. It was actually rather easy and required absolutely NO mental agitation. It just becomes so second nature, that you can listen to an audiobook and follow along just fine. In fact, the only time I really had problems doing both was when my audiobook either made me laugh so hard I couldn’t see straight, or made me cry (don’t listen to Little Women while trying to work). The worst part about the job was working Saturdays. I HATED going in on Saturdays. It was such a pain. And they wouldn’t give you the whole weekend off. Lame I think. Anyway, I worked an extra 20 hours a week on average at the post office making $13.65 an hour. Now, when I started this second job, I had just run across a snowball calculator spreadsheet. I could input how much I could pay on each thing, how much extra I could pay, and bonus payments I could make. The thing is awesome. Anyway, according to this spreadsheet, if I worked 20 hours a week for 9 months, we could be totally out of “bad” debt- my CC and his totally paid off. When I started my job, I had a little over $1000 on my CC. Easy right? I have since looked at my checkbook. In my first three or four paychecks, I could have wiped out my CC debt. Gone. No more.
Why do I still have CC debt? Because I felt RICH! I fell into the trap of “deserving” things. I “needed” good headphones for work (this was a true necessity. Those things saved my sanity.) I “needed” wrist guards or rests or something. I bought 4 sets before I found a good one. I think I still have some somewhere. Want to buy them? We bought a stove and a whole bunch of crap. Basically, I fixed one half of the equation, but I forgot about the other half. If paying off debt = increase income, I forgot to pay off the debt. I incurred more. I feel ashamed and embarrassed to admit this. I feel incredibly stupid that I fell into this trap. I lulled myself into a false sense of security by thinking “well, all the money goes to my credit card. So I must be doing this right” without remembering that I had to STOP USING THE CARD!!!!!
After reading several finance books recently, and becoming more aware of my own reactions to money, I can understand now how and why I treated my newfound wealth this way. I hadn’t reached the point of desperation yet. I knew we were in trouble, but I don’t know that I cared. Well, I care now. Something has changed. Maybe it was the emergency truck repair, or the realization that “holy crap it’s up to $3000 again!!!! How did that happen?” In my defense, Alann owed me $1500 for the motorcycle and truck repair. He has paid that. But I quit using my card. And it feels GOOD!!! I check my credit card account online, nothing but payments. Except for when Alann used it to get the Kitty her shots. He confused it with his. (Why it was in his wallet, I don't know.) But I have not made a purchase with it since Nov 6 2007. Wow. Almost 3 months. (I am not saying I haven’t used my capital one credit card, just the credit union one. But it is more dangerous because there is a higher balance and a much higher limit.) So anyway, the moral of the story is, if you get a second job to pay off your debt, STOP ACCRUING DEBT, and make sure your money goes to the debt, not a new stove, not a new pair of shoes, not a new whatever your weakness is. Pay off the debt. Stick to the plan. Don’t be like me. I worked my second job, and got nowhere. I paid my credit card off 3 times over and still have a balance. Sad isn’t it?

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