(Originally published on 03/23/14)
So back on March of 2013, I went cold turkey but it wasn’t drugs, alcohol or my cigars that I quit! If you know me at all, you know that I will never quit smoking cigars. No, Back in March, It was credit cards.
In 1994, when I entered college, I had become a credit card user, instructed by my parents that I was only to use it for emergencies. But that never holds true and thus began my typical American abuse of credit cards. I would use them for anything and everything and most often nothing of importance. However, I didn’t see anything wrong with it cause everyone was doing it! Apparently, everyone was brain washed by Wimpy of the Popeye Cartoons and felt that it was ok to rack up tabs that would never be paid off!
So if this is the American way, why was I deciding to buck the system? Well for several reasons:
First, I had met two self made men. These men had come from poverty to become financially quite successful in their own ways. But what did these two men have in common? Well, they took advantage situations that came to them to help them get ahead; they both worked hard to get ahead; and they both had little or no debt at all! It was always amazing when I would go out to dinner with them and their families and they would pay the entire bill with cash. One even refused to get a debit card cause he said that he didnt want to develop a habit of relying on plastic. These were two self made men who worked for themselves.
There is a thing that Andrew Jackson once said that I think is relevant here: When you get in debt, you become a slave. Therefore I say to you never involve yourself in debt, and become no man’s surety. These 2 men I had met refused to be slaves to debt.
Second, I would get paid on a Friday and by Saturday most of my paycheck would be gone to the credit card companies but the debt never went down! Can you believe it? I mean, I would dump $600 in payments to the various cards and my overall debt would only go down $100. Ok so that may be a fake example but it definitely felt like that every month and it wasn’t that far off from the truth.
Thirdly, I stopped using 2 of my 4 credit cards entirely in 2006 but didn’t finish paying them off til 2012? WHAT THE HELL WAS I PAYING EACH MONTH FOR 6 YEARS???? I have no idea? Can you imagine paying off dinner at PF Changs for 6 years? Man they make good food but it isn’t that good! It was like I was being punished for 6 years for a crime! I didn’t like paying those bills every month at all.
So when I created my Bucket list, I decided that I need to get rid of these pieces of plastic that enslave me to years of debt. It took a lot of focus & a little bit of sacrifice, but in March of 2013, I paid off my last two credit cards once and for all. Then I closed all cards but one card that is locked away somewhere and committed myself to be 100% Cash & Carry only!
Now it’s 1 year later and how has it gone? Am I living like a poor person only eating Ramen Noodles and smoking 1 Swisher Sweet cigar a month? Is my credit Score in the dump? Am I living alone in a cave somewhere never hanging out with my friends and never visiting the world?
HELL NO! I would never EVER Smoke a Swisher Sweet ever, no matter how desperate..haha, but seriously. Any of you that knows me and my adventures of last year, know I live life to the fullest! Since March of 2013, I have taken 2 international trips for nearly 14 days each, Ate like a King, hung out socially with my best of friends and family, taken some crazy active adventures around the US, and smoked some of the best Cigars available on the market today! Plus according to Credit Kharma, my Fico Score has gone up! And I do all of this with Cash Only! Not a single thing has been bought with a credit and I am not deprived!
So why am I sharing this, to prove that it can be done. I am no financial expert at all…but if I can do it, anyone can! That is the whole reason for my bucket list, not only to inspire myself to live each day as much as possible, but also to help others be inspired! I truly believe that if I can do something, then anyone and everyone can!
So join me in taking your freedom back from debt!