Have y'all heard that Ed McMahon is on the verge of losing his home? He's over $600 grand in arrears. TMZ.com is reporting that much of his financial woes are due to his wife's out-of-control shopping, reportedly racking up a credit card bill of around three quarters of a million dollars. Yikes!
Don't feel TOO bad, Ed--you aren't the first person whose spouse almost spent 'em into the poorhouse.
Can someone please explain to me why people just don't seem to get it? You can't spend more than you earn! It's that simple. Yes, we use credit cards, and we used them extensively (and creatively) when Ken was working the plan to dig out from his divorce debt. We don't carry a credit card balance now, and pay them off every month. Credit cards have their place for their convenience, ease of use when shopping online, and as a way to handle home emergencies (although a person should try to put money aside for such emergencies). But to completely finance your lifestyle and to finance compulsive shopping? No way.
Ken made it pretty clear to me early on that he didn't have much tolerance for the hobby-of-the-month mentality, and luckily, that's not my style. Nothing against anyone who loves their crafts and hobbies, but it can definitely cost you some cash. A while back I was on a jewelry-making kick, and I made some nice earrings for myself, friends, and family. A little while later, I developed some kind of allergic reaction and can no longer wear pierced earrings. That was the end of that! Ha! Luckily, I didn't spend a ton of money on the supplies. It's easy to get caught up in doing these things, but it pays to be cautious and not jump from one hobby to another. As for clothes shopping, I love a good bargain as well as anyone, but I've learned to think about it and decide if I really need it. At least 75% of the time, I put it back because I decide that no, I do NOT need it. I've got a closet full of clothes--do I really need more? I'll still pick up something if it's a great deal--I got a pair of Lee jeans that fit me perfectly for $12, for example--but I'm learning to think twice.
If I have a real weakness, it's books and movies. I'm trying to buy used books (unless it's authors that we collect) and cheapo movies. Ken cautioned me the other day about not buying too many movies, and while I didn't like hearing that at the time, he was right. We have so many already that we can watch, and while we'll continue to pick up DVD replacements for our favorites, we have plenty of time to do that, and plenty of things to watch in the meantime.
Credit card debt is a serious trap, people. I once knew someone who put so much on credit cards--a Rolex watch, guns, electronics, Mont Blanc pens, what have you--that he had to declare bankruptcy and ended up in a crummy efficiency basement apartment in a bad area of Indianapolis. What a pathetic loser! This wasn't due to medical bills or unforeseen circumstances--that can happen to anyone and can happen to the best of us--this was nothing but greed and overspending. And you know what? When compulsive shoppers rack up so much debt that they have to declare bankruptcy, who do you think picks up the bill? You and me and everyone else who is responsible with their finances, that's who. That is one of my absolute pet peeves.
Don't fall prey to credit card companies who WANT you to overspend. Be prudent and cautious in your spending and think twice about whether or not you need something or simply want it. The current state of the economy warrants extreme caution--stopping all spending won't do the economy any favors, but take care of yourself and don't overspend. Overspending is what the credit card companies want you to do. You don't see THEM declaring bankruptcy, do you?