Alright y’all, it’s time to get personal. Of course, this is a fashion blog, but it’s also a journal, and over the years I’ve enjoyed sharing bits and pieces of my life with you guys…like when Fab and I got engaged, and when I made the big move to Atlanta, and how I made through that dreaded quarter life crisis at 25, and how I’ve learned to overcome insecurities about my body. I guess these are usually things that you would share with your closest friends and family, but you know what I’ve learned about blogging…not only is it therapeutic for me, but sharing my life experiences also helps others who may be going through the same stage in their life. So, with that said, I am super excited to be partnering with State Farm over the next several weeks to share some of my life stages…and I’m going to tackle a topic that I’ve intentionally shied away from in the past — FINANCES! (eeeeek!)
If you’re a fashion blogger, I know you’re going to feel me on this… I’ve had people leave comments and send me emails like “What do you do? Because it seems like you’re constantly shopping, and you always have something new!” Lol. Well, I am not only a fashion blogger, but I am also an avid fashion blog reader, so I totally understand that question because I ask myself this very thing when I read blogs written by bloggers in their 20’s who seem to have a collection of Celine bags in every color with the Louboutins to match. Umm, I’m 32 and my shopping budget is definitely more on Phillip Lim for Target and JustFab level. Lol! So, I’m like “Damn! How can this girl afford to all that at her age?” And, then I think back on my 20’s and man, oh man, not only did I not make enough money to luxury anything, but my finances were just a hot mess!
Let’s just start from the beginning. This is kind of embarrassing in retrospect, because I was definitely one of those people who did not understand how to use credit. I mean, I’ve had a good paying job since I was old enough to work. And, I guess I thought as long as I had money coming in and was able to pay my minimum balances on my credit cards, it was okay to spend, spend, spend to the max. New shoes? Charge it. Fancy dinner? Charge it. Bar tab. Charge it. Siiiiiiiigh. This was mistake #1, but I was still able to maintain a pretty descent credit score for a while….and then, it all blew up my face! After my second year of college, I didn’t have a goooood, steady income anymore. Balancing my class schedule and my work schedule just kept getting harder, and the part time jobs that worked with my class schedule didn’t pay so well. All the sudden I found myself drowning in those minimum balances, and one by one I started to fall behind with my payments until I the late fees got so high, that I just could’t afford to pay them anymore. (Hangs head in shame.)
Needless to say, when I graduated from college, my credit was shot! I mean, it was so bad that I could barely get an apartment on my own. At the time, I was driving an old beat up Ford Probe, and omg, you guys…that car was falling apart. I wish I had a picture of it. The ceiling upholstery was falling, and the glove box was missing. There was no A/C, and I am pretty sure the radio only worked sometimes. Seriously, I think about that car sometimes and laugh so hard, but I can’t complain…it got me through my last couple years of college. I really wanted to buy a new car when I graduated, but getting financed with my credit was impossible, and this was was the turning point for me. I was so disappointed in myself. I mean, it was downright depressing, and in the thick of it, I didn’t think I would ever be able to turn things around. I literally wept to my aunt (in the picture above), and she helped me see that I wasn’t in an impossible situation, and really helped me start getting things back on track. After all, things weren’t all bad. I got an amazing job with a great salary less than a month after graduating and after staying with my aunt for a few months, I was finally able to get a great apartment with amazingly low rent for LA. With no car payment and overall low living expenses, it was time to attack my debt! With my aunt’s help, I tackled one credit card at a time. After about 6 months, the next step was to try to start opening new credit accounts and start rebuilding good credit history while still continuing to pay off the old debt. Finally after about a year and a half, my credit score finally climbed up enough to allow me to buy a new car. My credit score still wasn’t high enough to get exactly what I wanted, and my interest rate was sky high, but you guys, this was such a great achievement for me for a couple reasons — 1) This was my first big purchase ever. My first two cars were bought for me by family, but I bought this car all on my own, and 2) It was tangible proof that I COULD turn my finances around with time and good habits.
Now, fast forward to December 2013…it was time to buy a car again. But this time, there was no anxiety about whether or not I could get financed…no uncertainty about what I could afford because of high interest rates…I walked into the dealer, picked out the car I wanted, and few hours later I was driving it off the lot.
My “Starting Out” phase was definitely full of hurdles, but I am proud to say that I can look back at that time in my life and say “lesson learned.” I am wading through my “Adult” phase, and I am confident that I won’t make the same mistakes again. Fab and I have just started looking into buying our first home, it’s a very exciting (and stressful) thing, but I am so happy that credit problems are not one of the things I have to worry about. And yes, I still love to shop, and eat out, and open bar tabs. Lol! But, for all of you who have read this blog and wondered, “how the heck does she afford all those shoes?” I guess the answer is twofold — first, I am a super sale shopper! I pretty much never pay full price for things. Sure, I miss out on things sometimes waiting for them to go on sale, but let’s be honest…do I really need anything else in my closet? Nope. So, I wait it out for the sale price, and I use coupons, and promo codes, and I try to get the best price possible. Second, if I can’t afford to pay for it with cash, I don’t buy it! Sure, I have credit cards, but I had to learn the hard way that credit is not for discretionary spending. So now my shopping budget is cash only!
Like a good neighbor State Farm is there.
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by State Farm via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of State Farm.