2.28.2012

No cash, no buy

So, I have talked a few times here about how much I want a new bike.  I tend to suffer from a lot of self imposed buyer's guilt when it comes to purchases of any shape or size.  As many people in the US have, at a couple points in my life I was crushed with credit card debt.  The first was right out of college, and it was bad.  I had no concept of keeping spending under control.  New outfits, eating out, buying gifts for friends and family - it got way out of control.

Due to someone very special in my life, they helped me climb out - but I did pay back every single dime.  Fast forward several years, and i did it again - not nearly as bad as I had the first time around, but I had racked up about $2500 in CC debt.  Not good.

Since I work in the banking industry, I keep up with a lot of financial news.  Today I read an article from TransUnion that shows that the states with even the LOWEST amount of debt per person showed approximately $4,000 or more average credit card debt.  And that's the low end.  For the highest debt states, individuals had an average of more than $7,000.

Just reading this article made me get that nervous feeling in my gut.  That tenseness that used to come when the phone rang and I knew it was because of a past due payment.  That looming sense of dread when I would type the numbers into a spreadsheet and see the striking amount of time it would take to pay off a card at the minimum payment.

Thankfully, that's not my life anymore.  I have totally and completely changed my ways.  I buy most of my clothes at Salvation Army and Goodwill - there are some amazing deals out there to be had if you dig.  My husband and I rarely, if ever, buy anything on credit.  Our last credit purchase was our living room furniture, and we only did that because it was 12 months same as cash.  For us, it's cash or no sale.

Therefore, you see my dilemma in buying a new bike.  I carry a lot of guilt and remorse about the money issues I have had in the past.  Add that into the fact I pretty much work a minimum wage job, I have a hard time justifying a bike purchase.  I guess I throw this out there because I'm curious how you work through your sport spending.  Triathlon is anything but cheap - do you have spending rules?  How do you manage your tri/running/cycling related purchases?

2 comments:

Katie Duffy said...

I'm getting there. Last year I didn't really think about it... then this season, as you know, I tried to break it all down. Now, I'm looking at leaving my job entirely and taking on (more) student loan debt. While I think this choice is justified and the right thing for me, it means I won't be able to spend on this stuff. This year I might only do 1 or 2 tris, and I've picked some of the cheapest ones around me. There might be a marathon in the fall, but I'm looking at one that's under $100 rather than the $226 gargantuan NYC Marathon. Next year, when I'm full-on in school? Who knows? I think there may be one (really cheap) HIM.

I think you're really smart, FWIW. It's all about living within your means.

Matthew Smith said...

Good for you for staying away from credit and paying with cash. That's how Jenn and I role all the time. We don't use credit AT ALL. And, just like you, this is why I have an older bike with aero bars rather than a sweet shiny new tri bike. We're in the saving/selling process right now to get some dough together for a sweet ride. It'll still be awhile, but it'll be that much faster knowing that I OWN it!

Keep up the good work!