Good evening, one and all – my name is Casey Palmer, and I have debt.
Granted, it could be a lot worse – as I used to work for a bank, I’ve seen tons of people who’re way in over their heads when it comes to the credit beast, but it should’ve never come to this.
I suppose you could say that I grew up as a very naïve young man.
I was given my first credit card at the age of 18, when I was still finishing my last year of high school. What it meant to me then was that I had a no-strings attached method of being able to buy all the food, clothes, video games and such that I wanted. I was having a great time as I went on trips to other provinces and out with friends after school. I had no problem paying off more than the minimum payments and generally staying out of financial woe.
But then university came about and changed things up.
Having spent so much time in high school focusing on everything but school work, I got accepted to York University with no offer of a scholarship, something I could have likely attained if I’d just focused. So here I was with my dismal savings habits and tuition to pay for the next whoever knew how long.
So in came limit increases, overdraft protection on my chequing account and the introduction to the magic of the student line of credit. Really, this would all have been fine…
…if I’d been more conscientious of my spending habits.
If I remember correctly, I bought my laptop on a Future Shop card.
I know I had a Best Buy card.
There was a Sears card somewhere in the mix.
I have a Macy’s card and I barely ever go over the border into the United States.
And so on and so forth…
The years of school would progress, and though I would always be in the midst of a good job – nay, a BANK job which gave me access to low interest rates, for some reason, I always believed myself invincible and never having to worry about tomorrow. The next bill. Or anything that was coming.
Upon recently graduating, I was left with:
- A student loan, locked because I was no longer a full-time student (and hadn’t been for some time – I was taking part-time courses)
- A TD Gold Select Visa with a very shameful amount racked up on it for no decent reason
- Overdraft on my chequing account
- A Henry’s card for several pieces of camera equipment I’d bought over time
A month or so after this, I sat down and really started to look at my finances. With the job I had at the time as an intern for the Government of Ontario, the monthly minimum payment for the Visa ALONE was eating up somewhere around 15-20% of my take-home pay per month! And even my monthly expenses were getting ridiculous:
- $100 for a monthly pass for the subway
- $90 for passes for the train in from the suburbs
- $220 to my parents for “rent” (one should note I’m rarely at home)
- $270 tithe to my church (though I only started in November)
Plus food and entertainment.
Something had to give and give QUICK.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was the fact that I’d reconsidered a trip to Africa in 2009 due to the fact that I had all of this debt and it seriously needed paying off. After severely disappointing my girlfriend with this news, I decided that serious action needed to happen. I’d been working on a new plan for about a month before said discussion, but now it was time to commit to an approach to get rid of this issue. The three things I’ve committed to doing are as follows:
- Taking a more aggressive stance to monthly payments – I plan to use a larger percentage of my pay cheque to pay down my debt — especially the Visa, so that there’s less interest to set me back
- Thinking up new ways to generate secondary income to go towards paying off the debts – whether I have to sell my stuff on eBay, draw commissions like a fiend or find another avenue
- Change my spending habits so that there’s less to worry about at month end when the charges come and it’s time to pay the piper
I hope you choose to follow my journey and I also hope that I present you all with a better situation as time passes.