Last week I went on a mind blowing spending spree. I spent $1,200 in a matter of three days, all in the name of earning credit card rewards. It was actually really fun and kind of freeing in a way. Having spent the last year and a half in extreme frugal mode, where even spending on food was out of the question, blowing through that much cash was a shock to my system.
Now it’s time to pay the piper. Quite literally.
I have been totally debt free since June 5th, 2015. I’ve paid off my credit cards every month and I haven’t bought anything like a house or a new car. This $1,200 is the biggest cost I’ve had to pay in a long time.
While I do have a healthy emergency fund at the ready, this doesn’t qualify as an emergency. You shouldn’t spend money if you don’t have it. Debt is bad and I hate it. I really hate it. Going into debt to pay for this spending spree was not an option. Just because I have the money in my e-fund doesn’t mean I have to spend it.
My checking account, on the other hand, wasn’t looking quite so healthy. I haven’t been paid in two weeks from my main job, and I only made $491 from catering this month. The numbers in my checking account are quite low. There is definitely not $1,200 in there.
So how to pay off this amount of credit card charges? Planning!
God, I love planning. I absolutely adore it. Once I realized that I had a way to spend the money, I came up with a way to make sure I was going to be able to pay it off.
- Split the cost. Like I mentioned in my last post, I charges $266 to my card for a rental car. I only owe $55 on that car. The rest of the money will be paid back to me by my friends.
- Cash in on reimbursements. While $35.30 isn’t a large number, it’s the amount I was able to charge for two Lyft rides and know that I was going to be paid back. Every little bit helps!
- Buy things for other people. My boyfriend has been wearing the same pair of adidas sneakers nearly every day for the last five years. And they look their age. Since it was high time for new shoes, we went and got him two new pairs. I charged the cost ($91.20) and he paid me back. Thanks boo!
- Redistribute money. Now, this one may be a bit controversial. I have set savings goals for each month for three different things: travel, emergency fund and retirement. This month I allowed myself to not put any money into my travel fund and instead use that money to help pay off this credit card. I know saving is the holy grail in our personal finance community, but I am an excellent and committed saver. This one month does not mean I’m falling off the wagon!
- Use Your Savings. Like I’ve mentioned before, I plan to do some traveling this year. I’ve got an account set up just for that. This month I pulled $267 from my travel fund, because I charged that amount to my card for my flight to Wyoming.
With these strategies, I’ve already paid off $610 of my charges, and the payment isn’t due until February 7th. My first paycheck of the month should be hitting my bank account tomorrow and I’ll pay off the rest of the credit card with that.
My savings for February will be slightly affected by these charges, but only about $100. Really, I’m not making as much money as I should be. January and February are notoriously slow months for my catering company, so my side hustle isn’t as lucrative as normal. Things will pick up with a major bang in March though, and I fully intend to make up for the savings loss then.
There you have it folks! The magic of personal finance and planning. And now back to regularly scheduled spending.
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.