For a time, I was a revolver.
I lived for the now.
And I thought that was OK. Most people do the same anyway.
I would pay off my credit card balance in most months, and then carry forward a balance in some months because I was using my spare cash to invest in stocks back home and pay off my sister’s college insurance in Malaysia.
My husband and I also bought some land. That, I thought, was our priority. We didn’t touch our cash, if we could, as we were reserving it for our small business.
I used my card on small and big purchases as well. I never budgeted for my car service. So whenever something had to be done, the service adviser would ask if he could replace this and that, and my standard reply was “Do everything that’s needed” without asking how much it would cost. I was swiping my card anyway. (And also because I knew nothing about cars.)
Rarely would I know the cost of my purchases. If we would go grocery shopping, a normal Dh400 basket of goods would shoot up to Dh800.
I never had any problem with payments, by God’s grace, just a BIG problem with discipline and proper budgeting.
This ran from late 2012 until almost three years back. I was the nerd in our marriage and I did our budget every month.
On one occasion, I computed all the interest I had paid for in a year and saw a whopping total of Dh1,400.
But what made me REALLY jump off the plastic money bandwagon was when I realised that the rewards points I had accumulated were already 900.
When I finally realised that to earn one point, I needed to spend Dh100, I had to ask myself in shock: Where did all that Dh90,000 go? The ‘rewards’ in the form of a Dh900 voucher I had accumulated were certainly not worth it.
I’d like to believe I’m a very frugal person. I have the worst fashion sense. I seldom splurge on clothes, not because I don’t want to, I just don’t have the patience. I hate going shopping. I’m not into gadgets. I don’t eat out that often.
Bottom line is, I just couldn’t account for where the money went except for when I paid Dh5,000 for my sister’s emergency operation. I guess for that period of my life, every “emergency” was a call for credit card use — something that could have been avoided had I had an emergency fund.
What’s harder for me to accept is the fact that I know I’m a steward of what God has entrusted with me and I failed in that regard — wasting money on ‘stuff’ I couldn’t account for — in those four years.
By December 2015, with the support of my husband, I decided to never again use a credit card. I got rid of all my excuses, closed the account, did a “plastic surgery” by cutting the card and fixed our budget.
I got to know about American financial guru Dave Ramsey and have since been following his 7 Baby Steps to Financial Peace, intentionally telling each dirham where to go before the month begins.
I pay cash for everything, cash for big purchases, and use the cash envelope system for our day-to-day living.
I have also been sharing my learning with friends and somehow incorporating some of Ramsey’s principles in the stories I write to inspire others.
The journey hasn’t been easy. But I live by faith.
God has been gracious enough to give me contentment and peace that no matter what happens, I can trust that He will provide in His time, not the credit card. That’s if I can’t pay for something in cash now, it’s His way of saying, “Child, not now.”
It’s extremely hard sharing my story publicly. But if by writing this, even just one person will learn from my experience, I think I can say it’s worth it.