Seven years ago, my finances were a disaster. I had about $20K of student loans hanging over my head. I had recently purchased a used, economical Honda Civic, which added about $12K more to my tally. Getting out of debt became an obsession of mine. I was making a good salary and living in an inexpensive area (three bedroom with a view of the mountains and water for $1,000 per month! Divided by two. Ahh, those were the days).
I wrote out a plan. I made extra payments on my car until that was paid off since it had the highest interest rate. Then I attacked my small student loan with the higher rate. I obliterated that one in no time. Then I relaxed a bit. My last student loan has a ridiculously low interest rate (less than 2 percent), so I saw no reason to delay European vacations, moves to New York and more school, all things that make me a better human being, in my opinion. I also bulked up my savings account, hired a financial planner and made some investments (that are rocking! Thanks, Brad!).
I’ve told you all about how New York has taken a bite out of my finances. I didn’t hold back my first year here. Take AmTrak to my sister’s anytime I feel like it? Yeah! Go to half a dozen Broadway shows? Hell yes! Dinners out? Why not? Personal trainer? Yes please!
I had to rein it in when I got an apartment of my own. Of course, when you don’t have a crazy roomie, you want to be home more often.
When I was at Chase bank getting the cashier’s checks for my broker’s fee and deposits, the banker asked if I was interested in a Chase Freedom card. I’d gotten those emails and deleted them, but for some reason I decided to hear her out. She told me if I spent $500 on the card in the first three months, I’d be given $100 cash back. Seriously? Even if I pay it off right away? She said yes. I thought that was a great deal. I’d easily spend $500 this month. My movers alone were $350. Plus I had a kitchen and bathroom to equip.
I was leery of another credit card. My default setting is to spend. In those years of trying to pay off debt and build my savings, I tried every trick I read in magazines. The best thing I did was have $200 from every paycheck deposited in my savings account at my credit union. Since it never hit my easy-to-use checking account and my savings and checking are at different institutions, it was easy to just pretend my income was $200 less per week. I was nervous about allowing myself a credit card with a $6,000 limit. I didn’t need to think I could just swipe with no consequences, but I decided if I couldn’t handle it, I’d just cancel the account after I got that free $100.
Almost a year later, I love this card. In addition to that initial $100, I get about $25 every other moth as a credit on my card. And I’ve been responsible enough to never pay a single penny in interest.
Anyone have a rewards card with a better deal? If so, I’d love to hear about it.
I’m a journalist, content strategist, doting auntie, amateur bobsledder, fitness enthusiast, and wannabe health nut (who loves chocolate and pizza too much to fully commit). I don't want you to think my life is perfect. It's not.