Yes, Let’s Talk About That Debt, Logan
Logan Hi, Mike Dang.
Mike: Oh, hai, Logan.
Logan So last week I figured out I have $20,000 in credit card debt. Fun development in the Life-o-Logan.
Mike: And the week before that, I was under the impression that you had $10,000 in credit card debt, because you’ve been telling me that number for the longest time. I really should have sat down with you sooner to get the real number.
Logan Well, that’s what it was in my head. And please, I am a grown adult woman and it is not your responsibility or anyone’s responsibility to keep track of my money. I would also like to state for the record that I added up my balances on my own and was not under coercion. Also I think it was my idea to give you my cards.
Mike: No, that was your decision. It was a good decision. There was no inviting you over to my apartment for a cocktail and then surprising you with an intervention. You’re starting to face this debt, and that’s just a really great first step.
Logan Right. It’s really incredibly not fun.
Mike: You mean not being able to use your credit cards anymore? I’ve hidden them in a good place.
Logan Not being able to spend money, yes. It’s no good. Rather painful. I mean: I’m broke. I’ve been broke for a long time. But I’ve used my cards as stop gaps so that I could still do alllmost whatever I wanted.
Mike: Yes, I know. And, I’m not a therapist or anything, but I think it goes beyond simply wanting things, and buying them because the cards allowed you to do that. You were often buying things to make yourself feel better, sort of like how some people eat to feel better. It wasn’t healthy.
Logan I mean, obviously, yes. Well-tread territory for me and my therapist (who I sometimes paid with a credit card, miss him). So the thing that prompted me to actually add the numbers is kind of interesting to me, if you’d like to hear.
Mike: Yes, of course.
Logan: Historically, when I’ve confronted my debt, it’s been because I can’t pay my bills anymore, so I freak out and vow to change, etc. But that didn’t happen this time (I’d figured out how to do this dance wherein I used my money to pay bills and my cards to live, and this was still working for me.) But: Then I found out that I made $33,000 last year. (I found this out by entering my W-2s and 1099 into TurboTax, rocket science, that.) This was shocking to me, because: The narrative in my head was that I’d had all this debt, I’d moved home and worked at paying it off but been foiled by The Economy and getting Laid Off From My Job and then Being Unemployed, and thus hadn’t been able to pay it down. I also went to Europe for a few weeks, and that was the other part, that I chose a trip over fully paying off my cards.
But when it turned out I’d made this not-small amount of money and still hadn’t paid off my cards and had actually made them higher than ever, that kind of freaked me out. I’ve known that I Have A Problem for a long time, but this seemed somehow, totally dire.
Mike: I’m pretty sure that is going to sound really crazy to a lot of people. Like, how could she have not known how much she was earning? That’s just a basic thing. You know how much you earn, so you know how much you can spend. But I’m just going to put an end to that now, because shaming you isn’t going to help you. You feel really ashamed about this already. You are coming out and saying you have a problem. You are being public about how much debt you have. This is brave. And listen, it’s not all going to be positive reinforcement from me. I’m going to give you tough love if I have to. Tough Mike Dang love.
Logan Okay, Mike, I appreciate your support, but please let’s not get away from the fact that this is totally as self-made, self-sustained problem. And also that it’s my problem, and not your problem. And as far as not knowing how much I made, I was freelance and living paycheck to paycheck and then I didn’t work for awhile, and so, it was rather easy not to add all those numbers up. I mean, I was off by 10 grand in my estimation on the sum of six numbers!
Mike: I think you were subconsciously doing that on purpose because you knew that number wouldn’t be good. Because adding those numbers up would have surely depressed you, and then you would have cheered yourself up with a baked good or new jacket from J.Crew, and continue that debt cycle. No more of that. Okay, so let’s talk about what’s next. You cut down on your spending. You’ve given me your cards (great!). And Logan, I swear: If you tell any of your banks that you lost your credit card and need them to send you a replacement card, I won’t be your friend anymore.
Logan I am not goinggg tooooo. I mean, I’ve totally done that in the past. I’ve cut up my cards so many times, there is little card confetti all over the place. I find it everywhere, really. But, no, this time it’s For Real. (Number of times “this time, it’s for real” appears in my chat logs with regard to this issue: oh, THOUSANDS)
Mike: I wasn’t involved in any of those other times, so I’ll be keeping an eye out.
Logan: I guess I should feel lucky that I’ve made it this far AS A PERSON WITH NO MONEY, and yet managed to mostly live like a person who has money.
Mike: There was a time in my life where I was living in New York on $29,500. Part of that money was being sent home monthly to help my folks out. I learned to eat good food on very little. I’ll help you figure that out.
Logan Yeah I know. We’ve discussed this some. And I’m sure I’ll figure it out and become one of those people who just loves making her own yogurt and doing her laundry in the sink and hoarding ketchup packets and whatever else, but I’m not there yet. For now it’s just hard.
Mike: But ultimately, you’re going to have to figure it out for yourself.
Logan Right. I totally appreciate your help, and I totally appreciate that you have my cards. I was scheming ideas yesterday on how I could get one back from you actually, and I’m pretty sure if any other friend was holding onto them, my scheme could have worked. So I’m very thankful. Thank you. Now I’m going to go home and eat a can of baked beans for dinner. I know that sounds like I’m trying to make some kind of hobo joke, but I’m not. I have a can of baked beans at home, and I’m going to eat them.
Photo Credit: Christopher.Woo/Flickr