So yesterday was one of those “the light bulb just turned on” moments for me. See every month my creditor, the only creditor that will trust me with an actual credit card, Discover, sent me a statement in the mail. First off to know me is to know that mail is evil and wicked in my book. I hate mail. Bad news comes in the mail. The only time good things come in the mail is when packages arrive from online orders, so I have eschewed the checking of mail. Unfortunately/fortunately, however you look at it, the mail was checked yesterday and I had my monthly love letter from Discover Card, aka my monthly statement.
Discover Card and me, we have history. We have been through dial-up internet, 4 cars, the end of college, all of grad school, and an unhealthy dependence on Target stores together, all of which has conspired to make my monthly Discover Card love letter something I dread. But two years ago after a particularly embarrassing “Miss, your card was declined do you have another card you can use to charge that pack of gum and tube of mascara” fiasco at Target, Discover Card and I had to have a long talk. There were some tears. There were lots of promises of 5% cashback on groceries and gas that were sworn off, but when I went out Discover Card stayed home like a poor red-headed step child, before long he expired was shredded, and never replaced by the evil that spawned him, Discover Financial Services. But apparently in June channeling his inner 80’s diva my Discover Card roared “NOBODY PUTS BABY IN THE CORNER!!!!!” and leaped onto my shaky financial stage where he performed a budget blowing routine that pushed my APR from 12.99% to 28.99%!
What does this mean?! What does 28.99% mean?! Well nothing much, it simply means that I will be 48 when my indentured servitude to Discover Financial Services ends. Now I know what all those people were bitching about when they were whining on the news about credit card reform. They were talking about just this sort of thing. This hideous unexplained jump from 12.99% to 28.99%, this more than doubling of my APR was Discover Card’s gift to me for 10 years of “being a card member”, this was their way of showing me gratitude. This is the equivalent of running up to me spitting gum in my hair, making sure is enmeshed really well right up to the roots and then saying “thanks for the gum, here have it back!”. What’s more disturbing is that when I am done paying off my debt it will be 2028, BP STILL wouldn’t have figured out a way to stop the oil leak, and we won’t even be using credit cards anymore it will be some sort of retinal scan mark of the beast crap! LOL! Oh holy hell, how did this happen, how did I come to be this person that was on an 18 year/$4,689 repayment plan? The answer is…the $1 bins in Target!
See for those of you that are more Wal*Mart people than Target people, well first I don’t understand you because Target is awesome, Target is so awesome in fact that it is a dollar store and a box store wrapped into one. As soon as you walk in the door to Target there are these bins you have to walk by, and they are AMAZING. They are filled with things that are all $1. You can buy things like plastic popcorn holders that look like old fashioned movie theater popcorn holders, big dopy Uncle Sam’s hats before the 4th of July, and plastic headbands that look like Sugar Daddy candy wrappers. These things are mostly useless, generally never used, and short lived, but at the bargain price of $1 why not buy it? Better to buy it now and not regret it later my conventional spending wisdom told me, and stupidly that is just what I did. Heaps and heaps of crap from the $1 bins, other select non-$1 dollar areas of Target, and other store (Nordstrom) purchases slipped into my shopping bags. I was like a turkey if it was shiny and new my eye was drawn to it! Before I knew it my Discover Card was being declined at Target and I was faced with the harsh reality of my conventional shopping wisdom being turned on its head. Now it was time to face the reality of “I bought it then so I didn’t have to regret it now, but now I think I used it once and tossed it out because it broke, rusted, or was crap and I still have a FAT Discover Card balance to show for it…SHIT.”
Double shit, I cannot pay this whole balance off/back in any sort of meaningful time period.
Triple shit, its June 2010 and I realized my APR has gone up to 28.99% because according to Discover I am/have all of the following things: one four day late payment in 2.5 years, have enjoyed a gracious 12.99% APR for the past two years the gravy train is over, may not be quite the preferred borrower I was, am closer than I have been in sometime to paying off my debt to Discover Card and since I have completely stopped using the card a good way to keep me giving them money for longer is to make me owe them more money by more than doubling my interest rate. Rat bastards, they were geniuses! Seriously if I wasn’t the person on the other end of this wicked scheme I would pay homage to the brilliance of the plan! Two hours of speaking to every department possible at Discover Card and being transferred to call centers all over the United States, no one was willing to do anything “real” for me. Sure they lowered my rate from 28.99% to 25.99% APR, but I wasn’t going to see 12.99% again for sometime. But thankfully, Discover Card is not inhumane Multinational Corporation; they have services for people like me, credit counseling services.
For the bargain price of seven $1 items from the dollar bins every month, which will be kindly billed to my Discover Card now sitting at a modified rate of 25.99% APR, Discover Financial Services will offer me credit counseling. What the FU#(*&%$)@?! Here I am speaking to a woman, they are all women at these call centers because men would hear a woman’s voice start to tremble and adjust the rate right away to stave off the inevitable emotional melt down, who is offering me a $7 service that after I figure in the APR will cost me in reality $8.82 a month. Mental math was occurring in my head at a rate which I never even thought possible before. Sitting there staring out the window I realized Discover Card was trying to seduce me into being in debt to them forever. Before I knew it that $7 I charged would cost me $958, and those “cheap” $1 dollar bin items would cost $83 a piece. For all I know I am probably still paying off a Taco Bell bean burrito from when they still cost $0.69!
So now, a day after the shocking realization that I am a moron who never thought I would end up being bitter about credit, I am REALLY bitter about credit. I am going to do my best to turn over a new frugal leaf until my balance is paid off. The plan of attack is as follows:
1. All my proceeds from Craigslist sales will be funneled towards the offending Discover Card balance.
2. I will borrow more books from the library instead of buying them brand new from Barnes & Noble. If I do buy books brand new I will drive 0.25 miles out of my way and to go to Borders and purchase them with coupons instead of without coupons from Barnes & Noble.
3. No more new shoes, unless they are really on sale (hopefully cheap shoes doesn’t turn into my new “$1 bins”) and I actually have a legitimate reason to purchase them, i.e. toe cleavage is not acceptable when meeting with attorneys, licensing agents, or people that might otherwise think you are a twit because you accidentally sent them a LSAT study guide instead of a signed and executed license agreement.
4. Sleeping more, Starbucks less. Sleeping is free…Starbucks is not…basic math and common sense!
5. No more makeup purchases. I have so many practically new makeup products that look really great in the store, but in reality, it isn’t kosher to turn up at work with hot pink eyeshadow.
6. Buy store branded products instead of name brand, except for in the case of Q-Tips, because let’s be honest people, they just aren’t the same as Q-Tips.
7. Lose weight so I don’t have to buy new clothes, again, common sense, you can wear your old jeans if you can actually fit into them and look good and money is not wasted on junk food which is strangely expensive considering for the most part it is just corn manufactured into 100 different products and contrived into something scary like a Triscuit. (What? Triscuits disturb me.)
8. Use up stuff I have. I LOVE getting new things (this is my problem in a nutshell) and I love to use them once and forget about them. No more of that…use up what I have. I have a three month supply of hair products, yet I still wanted to buy more this past Sunday…bad, very bad.
9. Abandon new iPod idea. Reason?! …Obvious.
10. PLAN AHEAD. It is amazing how much less you spend when you aren’t doing everything last minute, hurry, hurry, rush, rush. All of a sudden giving FedEx $82 to get something to someone around the world in 12 hours isn’t really necessary because I sent it out when I was supposed to.
Those 10 points are my plan. They are the plan to get out of Discover Card debt before I hopefully become Sallie Mae’s bitch…! LOL! Please look for the follow up to this blog in 2017 entitled “No One Puts Sallie Mae In A Corner”…;)