Credit cards let people spend money they don’t actually have, and online shopping exists to make spending a whole lot easier. Purchases and payment plans add up quickly and minimum payments become harder and harder to pay (and very difficult to hide). I have so much credit card debt I can no longer keep it a secret from my husband.
I was late to the credit card game.
Compared to my friends, I waited a long time to apply for my own credit card. OK, I had an “emergency” card that my dad gave me in college but he forbid me to use it so I didn’t. It sat in my wallet for years without tempting me, but at that point in my life, I was strong.
The bank rejected my first application.
When I finally decided to apply for my own card, I was rejected. My bank turned me down so I tried again, applying for a high-interest card with a 29% APR (clearly not my best decision). The entire concept of interest was completely foreign to me. I had no idea what it meant or what I was doing. When the shiny piece of plastic arrived in the mail, I told myself I’d use it for emergencies only (of course).
My spending wasn’t too bad at first.
I got a job and my finances improved. I even got married. I finally felt like a grown-up, so $150 for a dress was no problem—I just put it on the card. (Oh, those shoes are cute too!) After all, I did need professional clothing since I was a working woman. I became very good at rationalizing my spending. Still, the trouble really started when I discovered the wonder of the Flash Sale websites.
I started feeling a sense of urgency to buy crap I didn’t need.
“Only 24 hours left to SAVE 25% on your entire purchase!” Oh my God, I’d better hurry! I’ve become obsessed with online Flash Sale sites. Their “limited time” tactics create such a sense of urgency that I fall for it every time. My need to “buy now” is overwhelming and grows every day. Obviously, something is missing from my life… like that beautiful bag—only 20 minutes left!
Everybody knows the best deals are online.
I lie in bed waiting for the clock to hit midnight. New sales are posted then and that’s my time to shine! I always find the best deals (never less than 25% off) and fill my online cart with beautiful clothes, bags, and jewelry that I’d never even considered buying in a brick and mortar store. Stores are for suckers!
I hardly ever sleep.
Before my love of Flash Sales developed, it wasn’t unusual for me to be on my laptop in the middle of the night. My job is stressful and sometimes I work through the night. Proposals, emails, clients—my line of work requires me to be in constant communication and available at all hours of the day (or night) with my clients. But now I’m not sleeping due to the Flash Sales and I think the stress is getting to me.
I lie to my husband a lot.
I always tell him I’m working. My husband will roll over in bed, see me typing, and go back to sleep. He’s become so accustomed to me “working” instead of sleeping, he’s stopped asking. Occasionally, he says I should find another job because I hardly ever sleep. He’s getting worried, but he’s worried about me for the wrong reason.
The minimum payments are killing me.
I received a statement in the mail for $10,266. The minimum payment is around $300. I think I’ve been (somewhat) subconsciously waiting to hit that $10,000 before I face the reality of my situation. Big payments and easy to hide, but $300 minimum payments are pushing it. That’s a monthly car payment or grocery bill. It’s a lot of money to go unnoticed.
I’m embarrassed that I’ve let it get this bad.
I’ve racked up so much debt that I need to come clean. When I do, it will be a total shock to my husband. Although we rarely discuss finances, I know he’ll be surprised and disappointed. My spending affects him as well. We may have separate bank accounts but we don’t have separate lives. He’ll forgive me, right? It’s not like I cheated on him or hid some secret life.
As scary as it is, I’m going to come clean.
I have to. I need help and I realize that now. I need help with paying back the money I owe, yes, but I really need help with my spending. My husband deserves to know what I’ve been doing. I’m going to miss the feeling of excitement that I get when the packages arrive in the mail. I’m going to miss the thrill of the hunt and getting the best deal for the best price, but I won’t miss the anxiety. Hiding a secret like this is hard and unfair.
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