The title says it all. I envy those who say “I’m broke”. Oh, how wonderful it would feel to just be poor and owe no one a single penny. But alas, that is not the case for me and my unfortunate husband and child.
It feels good to place blame on living in today’s day and age, where everyone needs to have the latest gadget and trendiest everything. It’s even more tempting to blame the modern orthodox money trap with outrageous Jewish day school tuition costs, insane amounts of food being served at the average Shabbos meal, table-scape perfection at every bar-mitzvah, vort and wedding, expensive, name-brand outfits being purchased just to go grocery shopping…and the list goes on.
Let’s just be real for a second. Being alive is expensive…if you allow it to be. I know full well that this is my fault. Yes, I wish I would have been taught at some point about money, but I just assumed “the men will take care of it.” And now I know that money isn’t something that should be left to the men alone. I mean no judgement on the people for whom that system works well, but I know that for myself, that system has failed. Now I know that I need to be on the exact same page with my husband. I need to know about every penny that goes in and every penny that goes out. I need to understand how basic financial systems work. This includes banks and their fees, credit cards and their fees, etc.
Until now, we just charged everything to credit cards. I never really grasped the concept of credit cards until recently. All I knew was that they were these shiny little pieces of plastic that would magically buy me whatever I wanted. I knew they had limits, but that my friend, is where my knowledge about them ended. We paid the monthly minimum due and they kept letting us charge. And when the card reached it’s limit, we’d get another card. We somehow managed to do this NINE times with nine separate credit cards. I don’t completely understand why I never registered what was going on. Maybe I was in ignorant denial. Whatever the case, we’ve racked up quite the amount in credit card debt. Due to other issues (another post for another time), we barely have enough money to put food on the table, and so considering paying off our immense amount of credit card debt didn’t seem to be an option.
It’s very humbling to write about this, and this my friends, is a mistake I’m going to be paying for for a very long time (the next seven years to be exact). But the best part is that it’s taught me the lesson of a lifetime when it comes to money: credit cards are not for me (among others). In the end, I’m so grateful we are going through this experience. For the first time in my life, I find myself creating an actual budget and setting up financial safeguards that I probably should have done years ago . I don’t know what we’d do without the support of family and friends throughout this tough time, but all I can say is that I am so completely grateful for the people we have in our lives and I cannot wait for the day when we can repay them for even a fraction of their kindness to us. Living life with financial awareness creates a whole new level of gratitude within me I didn’t know was possible. I get so excited about every cent I make and I think twice about every dollar I spend. So if you’re rollin’ in the dough, or living in an ignorance-is-bliss-limbo like I was, try being poor for a day. It’s actually a counter-intuitively freeing experience that I wish I had tried sooner.
Until next time,