Pages

January 04, 2007

American Express

Remember I said I was unusually sore yesterday? Well, from the feeling of my head (similar to a 25lb bowling ball) I would venture to say that I was getting sick yesterday, not out of shape. Thank goodness for that sigh of relief...at any rate, I was sitting here contemplating either lopping my head off or reading the latest issue of Runners World...I opted for the latter, since I think I will need my head when I start grad school on Monday.

So, I'm reading through this issue...every page...every advertisement...because hey, it's way better than watching Wheel of Fortune...when I run across an advertisement, ie "Promotion" as it states at the top of the page. Page 30 to be exact. And what I read shocked, amazed, and dumb founded me. The article, excuse me, "Promotion", was about the American Express VIP Runner Program at the 2006 Philadelphia Marathon (November 2006 to be exact) ClickHereToBePromotedTo. It sounded kind of fun, interesting even. Your own private port-o-potties, personal baggage check, pre and post race massages, training programs, etc. That's cool. If you can afford such luxuries, then far be it from me to stop you from having your own private potty.

But see, that's just it..."if you can AFFORD it". To be a VIP you had to register with your Amex card. And if you can "afford it" than why put it on a credit card. Why not pay cash (or mail a check), or pay with a debit card? And I know...I know...some types of Amex cards you are required to pay off each month, so in essence it is similar to a debit card. But, you see, I don't believe all that bull _ _ _ _ (be creative...fill in the blanks!) Because I was one of those Amex card holders. I was even privelaged enough to have TWO!!! (But, not privelaged enough to spell words correctly). They trusted me that much! (note the hint of sarcasm). One was the typical pay off every month type, the other...my Sky Miles card...was a pay when you want as long as you make a minimum. But, guess what happened? Murphy jumped into my life. And at a point where I had several thousands of dollars on both cards. And the money to pay off the monthly card, well...Murphy needed that. So, I couldn't pay in full. One month. Which started a cycle of late fees, non payment fees, just cause we want to fees...and even though I attempted to recover and pay them every dime I had until I could get it paid off...well, that didn't matter. After the hundreds of dollars in fees, it ended up taking me approximately 4 months to pay off something that I should have been able to pay in one. Oh, and they also turned me over to a collection agency. Which they owned too...It was a freaking mess to say the least.

Well, God had some mercy on me (although I still believe to this day he wanted me to learn a lesson from all of this) and introduced me to Troy. And Troy introduced me to Dave Ramsey (ForRealClickHere). And over a year later, I am well on my way to being totally debt free. I mean really. I will owe NOTHING to ANYONE for ANYTHING. What I didn't mention before is that during a series of really dumb mistakes that college kids make, I managed to rack up almost $80,000 in debt including a brand new car! It all spawned from credit cards and the offering of credit everytime you turn around...including in my running magazine. I'll never forget my first one. The application form was stuck in the plastic bag that held my college textbook purchase. All I had to do was send a copy of my college registration and bam! I was an instant credit card holder. And from there...it just got worse. To the tune of $80,000 over 10 years! But, back to meeting Troy and Dave and all that jazz. Troy took me on a date to one of Dave's live events. I was skeptical...unsure...thinking that my new boyfriend was probably a little weird...I mean, I don't know anyone who doesn't have at least one credit card!

Here's the crazy thing...when you start living right. And you all know what I mean when I say"right", good things start to happen and Murphy all but disappears. I started living right again. I was dating someone that I had the utmost respect for. He assisted me in getting rid of every credit card I owned (and a year and half later I don't miss them a bit). I stopped spending every dime. I actually saved $1,000 (gasp!) and good just surrounded me. For instance, my boss asked me if I would like to change job positions. Not really positions, but get into this pseudo management training program for government accounting types. Sure...why not? Oh, along with this program you become eligible for the tuition assistance program, ie. repayment of student loans...ALL OF THEM. Which in my life equated to $20,000. Gone. Just vanished.Just like that. Because I was living on the right side of it all. I started running, did things that I never thought were possible (like jumping out of an airplane). I started to love life again. I had goals. Something I always thought I had, but now, in hind sight, realize they weren't goals, but just temporary band aids to mask years of pain.

And guess what? I'm still living on that right side. And life just keeps getting better everyday. I'm half way through all of that debt and as of October 2008, I will be debt free. No. I will be DEBT FREE. And never ever again in my life will I become a credit slave. All the hype is not true. You do not have to have credit to live, or to live right. You have to have morals, values, ethics, and a little common sense.

Do you remember your grandparents? Or their parents? Do you remember them saving money for a rainy day? Or paying cash for everything they owned, or having nothing at all? We are all marketed to too much. We have become a nation brainwashed by Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express. They really have made most of America believe that without them your life is worthless. Well, I'm here to tell you, that without them my life now has purpose. Meaning. Value. I can now see through that foggy mess that I got myself into and see what is right and good about me, and the people or things I surround myself with. I am looking forward to that day when I can call Dave's show and scream "I'M DEBT FREEEEEEEEE". But until then, I'll just keep looking towards my goals, my future, and leaving the past behind....

The moral to this whole story is: marathons should be about the running journey, not about the credit journey.

Addendum to this post: After I wrote this, I went to read Troy's blog and cause we are always in each others head...it turns out that he wrote about a very similar thing! Go read it! Now! It's a way better post than mine!!!! ISaidClickHere!

9 comments:

Phil said...

Congrats on your debt situation. And it's your blog, you can write about any topic that moves you.

Laurie said...

Awesome Amy. More people should become debt free. I am proud to say that I am debt free. At 24, a time when people are starting their first job, etc, etc, it is way too easy to think you should have EVERYTHING that your parents worked years to have. Credit will give you those things. just at a much higher expense. Congrats on the dedication, you will be so thankful in the years to come.

Firefly's Running said...

Awesome post, Amy!

Tim said...

Thanks for the inspiration ...

Congratulations!

miss petite america said...

awesome awesome! i'm working for the same goal!

Running by.... said...

I'm with you Sistah! I became debt free a year ago and it is the best feeling in the world. It's the best feeling of security in the world.

L*I*S*A said...

I'd love to be debt free. I think the journey to get there scares the hell out of me, though. Hopefully, I'll be so busy in nursing school I won't have time to spend money!

John said...

Dave is the bomb. And Amy is a Godsend for putting us onto him. And so I guess I have Troy to thank for that. It'll be a long haul, but I'm looking forward to being DEBT FREE one day too. At least we have hope, now.

And how I wish I could go back to my 19-year-old self and kick him square in the pants. Tell him NO DEBT and to invest some of that money I was spending on beer, CDs, RayBans, and other assorted stupidity. Ah well, live and learn. We were past due for a Plastectomy.

Kurt said...

I think Dave Ramsey is the way to go. We worked it and it took over a year and a lot of sacrifice but we did it.

Good luck.