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Archive for October, 2009

Crossing the Line into Debt

October 21st, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Around 20 years ago, I got myself seriously in debt--about $13,000 worth. To some, that may not sound like much, but my income at the time was about $16,000 and my assets were nonexistent, so percentage-wise, it was serious. It took a few years to get myself out of that debt--about 4 years to wake up to my poor money-management habits and about 3 years after that to nix the debt. Since that time, I have remained debt-free--other than acquiring a mortgage, which at least comes along with a substantial asset.

I'm getting dangerously close to crossing the line right now, however. The amount of my total cash balance is close to the amount of my credit card bills, and for the first time in years, I will be carrying a balance on a credit card that isn't paid off within a month or so.

I hate that I've had to put so much on credit cards, but $3500 worth of car repairs on a car that is generally in good shape and $5000 worth of vet bills for the hound who gives me a reason to wake up in the morning were non-negotiable expenses. (I'm afraid Henry will be my last dog for a while, though--this is his second costly medical crisis in the 3.5 years I've had him, and odds being what they are, he'll have at least one more costly crisis before he goes.) I paid much of that out of savings, but now I am getting to the point where I am reluctant to completely empty the coffers in order to pay the bills.

At least at this point, I am much more financially aware, and I have a positive net worth. But I am unemployed, the job market is tight; I am looking for entry-level work in a career field new to me that will mean that my first year's income will be relatively low (although the potential for growth in income is
much greater once I am established).

This is a real tipping point, and it scares me.