Sunday, May 30, 2010

85K in Debt ~ Are You Kidding Me?

85K.....wow....that's a big ass number. Seriously? I better do that again, I thought....add it up again. I thought that number was a mistake until I did just that. I'd been avoiding doing that little piece of math for years and now that I had, I wish'd I hadn't. It only made me worried and scared. Terrified really. Terrified because I knew for certain that I would be having to file Bankruptcy in a Los Angeles County court.

I wasn't alone in my ignorance but I wasn't thinking about that. And if I had been thinking about that it would have been of no comfort. It's true that so many people have no clue how deeply in debt they really are. Some of us are wired to bury our heads in the sand when it comes to all things financial. Uncomfortable sand, yes, but not as uncomfortable as the stark realization that comes from knowing a number like 85K. Knowing the number means that you have to do something about it, doesn't it? 85K? Really?

So now what I thought to myself. How, exactly, did I get 85K in the hole? Stupid, stupid, stoopid. Well I can't say exactly how that happened. I still really don't know exactly. I do know that I never learned how to manage money. No one ever sat me down and said, THIS IS HOW YOU MANAGE MONEY EPIPHANY, THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT. I sure wish someone had.

And I do know that growing up as a kid, there wasn't a lot of money for extras. We weren't poor but I watched my friends get everything handed to them...the best Barbies, the best clothes, the best cars....I'd have settled for any car. Hold up...keep reading....I am not about to go on a poor little me rant here...that would be pretty self indulgent of me and I have learned a thing or two from my ordeal...but I've done a lot of thinking about why I lack financial prowess. Done a lot of thinking about how I ended up 46 years old with absolutely nothing..so for now all musings are legitimately on the table.

When I moved out of my house and became responsible for myself, I had a good job that paid the rent easily. I started receiving credit card offer after credit card offer at the still stupid age of 17 and they all sounded good to me. It was really easy to get the credit back then. And really easy to pay the bills. So while I no longer wanted the best Barbies, I did want the best clothes and the best cars and credit was an easy way to get them NOW.

Flash forward 20 years, and the cost of living had sky-rocketed but wages had not. In fact, my wages hadn't gone up significantly at all during that time. What had once been a really, really good living had become one that could no longer sustain the cost of living in present day California.

Things were so easy back in the 80's, I never even thought about my future. Never imagined that it could or would get harder to live on what I made.

And when the financial going got tough, I just started obtaining more credit to pay for the credit I had already obtained. For five years or so, that was an easy thing to do. We were deep in the age of lend and spend and my creditors were as happy as I was to ignore any facts leading to the clear message that I would not be able to repay them down the road.

But as much as I would like to blame my precicament on those creditors, global warming or something else, I can't. As I previously stated in another post, I have to own up the facts of my particular situation. I had been financially irresponsible for years and it had finally taken its toll. This was and will always remain ALL MY FAULT.

But THERE I was. 85K in debt and filing bankruptcy. YOU DID IT ALL WRONG EPIPHANY. YOU DID IT ALL WRONG, I thought as I walked up the steps to have my bankruptcy case heard in Los Angeles County Court. YOU DID IT ALL WRONG. And I hoped against hope that I was about to do something right.

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