Getting Out Of Debt: Cutting Up The Plastic

Getting Out Of Debt: Cutting Up The Plastic

Welcome to the newest installment of “Getting Out Of Debt,” a new series where I realize just how horrible my financial situation is and figure out how in the world I’m going to rectify it. If you missed the last column, read Getting Out Of Debt: Creating A Budget.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks understanding my financial situation, through finally realizing how in debt I am and creating a budget to work through it. Although it’s given me a couple of heart palpitations along the way, it hasn’t been that bad yet – mostly because everything I was learning was theory, not application. In college speak, I’d been spending a lot of time procrastinating by working on my term paper outline. Now the outline is done and has been flushed out to its fullest extent, and if I don’t actually get down to work on the paper soon, I’m going to fail out of this class.

We’ve moved onto the “action items” step of my plan to get out of debt, and I’ve realized that the first step to making sure I actually improve my financial situation is getting rid of any opportunity for me to accumulate more debt. This means that it’s time for me to cut up my plastic.

I knew that to become debt-free, I’d at least have to stop spending, so a few weeks ago, I put my credit cards in a drawer on my nightstand. This seemed like a safe option – there was no way I could binge-buy work lunches or shop online, but I’d also have a line of credit in case of an emergency. Before I created a budget, I’d keep these cards on hand for the end of the pay period, because emergencies often came up. Now I know that I really don’t have any excuse for emergencies, and if that’s true, there’s no use for those credit cards.

Knowing I needed to cut up my credit cards and actually doing it, however, are two very different things. Just like in my past, I knew intellectually that getting a “u up?” text meant only one thing while I could talk myself into believing that maybe he did actually just want to watch a movie, and I knew that I could convince myself to hold onto these credit cards “for emergencies” but still have the plastic close by in case that emergency happened to be a 25% off site-wide sale at Target. I quickly downed a can of wine for liquid courage – really, this cheaper alcohol isn’t actually that bad – and went to grab a pair of kitchen scissors.

I spread my array of cards on the counter and picked up my least favorite – the card I’d gotten in an emergency that had a horrible interest rate and had never even had much of an available balance for me to spend anyway. I took a deep breath and cut it in half. I expected to feel pain, but that’s not what happened – it was relief. I cut the halves into smaller pieces and I was hooked. I had to cut up all of these cards as quickly as possible, and with each cut, I felt more empowered. This “getting out of debt” thing isn’t just on paper anymore – it’s actually happening, and I’m taking control of it with just a pair of scissors. I scooped up all of the shards and went straight to the garbage chute to toss them down four stories just in case I got the itch to start pasting them back together in the event of a sale at Ann Taylor, but I knew that wouldn’t happen. A change has taken place – I’m no longer a consumer held captive by MasterCard. I’m getting out of debt.

I have no backups, no safety nets for purchases. I have to stick to my budget now, because I don’t have any other choice. I’m both terrified and exhilarated. There’s no turning back now, because at the very least, I know that at the end of the day, I’m entirely too lazy to call Capital1 and ask for a replacement card. While I’ve been doing research before, the actual journey starts now. I’m confident I can do it, but for the sake of my self-control, leave me off of the Sunday brunch group texts for a couple of weeks, ok? I’m talking to you, Karla. I’ll be drinking my bottomless mimosas at home made with discount André for a while, but as long as I can get out of debt, it’s going to be worth it.

Image via Shutterstock

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Steph W.

Steph W. is a new Master's degree graduate with an intern's salary and six-figure taste. She realizes her expectations far exceed reality, so she spends her days pinning away Loubs she pretends are in her physical closet instead of her virtual one. Her hobbies include attempting to trapping her boyfriend into marriage before he finds out how insane she is and pretending that Black Box wine tastes as good as the kind she could afford when she was gainfully employed. Send her tips for getting out of student debt at

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