“Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall.”
I love this quote and have some real life experience in knowing that it’s true.
Way back when I was younger, I believe around 10, a family friend took my two brothers and I down to a local swimming hole. Of course, it being local, a lot of high schoolers were hanging around and doing front flips and back flips…well, a lot of cool flips and twists and dives. My brothers, both being more coordinated than I am, were able to copy these moves and were diving in no time. I, on the other hand, stunk. But I really wanted to do one cool thing-a shallow front dive. Our family friend showed me how to do it numerous times.
We were there for 5 hours. I know this because for four and a half hours, I did belly flop after belly flop. My stomach was bright red from the sheer amount of belly flops. I was sore and my muscles were aching. Yet, after every single belly flop, I’d pull myself back up onto the rock and go over in my head one more time what I needed to do. I’d ask the family friend what I needed to correct and watch one of the high school kids do another fancy back twist or whatever. And I’d try it again.
My brothers kept asking me if I just wanted to quit and go home-they were tired after being in the water for so long but I told them I just really wanted to try “one more time” and I think the family friend recognized my stubbornness-I wasn’t leaving until I did one. Part of it was stubbornness and part of it was the fact that my younger brothers could do it but I couldn’t. And then, the stars and moons aligned or my body was just sick of getting hurt or I positioned myself just right or something because after all my times of belly flops, I did a perfect shallow dive. I came up to everyone cheering for me—apparently I’d been watched after so many times of trying this out. I was so excited and proud (and sore, don’t forget that!) and knew that I was awesome.
How does this apply to other areas of my life? I’ve “failed” budgeting many times but I seem to be on a roll right now and am glad that I tried it “one more time”. I’ve failed at my finances but have picked myself back up (for the last time I hope!) and seem to be doing fine.
I try to keep in mind that it doesn’t matter that I failed before-yes it sucks but I’m going to fix it. The stars and moon will align and I’ll have that moment.
I started my slide into my debt lifestyle (here and here) and after college it just got worse. I graduated in May 2008 and couldn’t find a job. Part of it was the economy and part of it was me being comfortable where I was at. I had transferred to a retail store to live with my ex because I was just too lazy to figure anything else out. I was going to go back to school in order to finish off my other degree but never did. (Thankfully! I can only imagine the horrible school debt I’d have if I hadn’t decided to just stick with what I have.) But this is when I really crashed. It was my rock bottom. And I know it’s not as bad as it could have been but to me it was and still is my lowest point.
Here are some highlights from that time:
1) Bought books from the bookstore I worked at. Why? Because of the discount! I just had to buy something every single day I worked. Yes, you read that right. Every day I worked-not every pay day or every Friday. And it was usually just an armful of stuff that looked good so I wanted to check it out. I’m currently reading through these and some I’m just flabbergasted at why I bought.
2) Not finding a second job. I knew I needed more money because I “had none” (or you know, I spent it all on books every day!) but barely sent my resume out to anyone or even tried for a second part time job in the mall I worked at.
3) Continuing to use my credit cards even though I could barely make a minimum payment. I was that girl at the register in front of you handing over 3 cards to get a $25 purchase. Or smiling and taking back the “wrong” card that I thought I had “lost and canceled” and handing over the “correct” one. Really it was just a game of “did that payment go through? Did they not put through that gas purchase yet?”
4) Not moving back home when my mother was sick. Instead, I’d take off 3 or 4 days at a time (sometimes a week or so) because I needed to be with her. And yes, I did need to be with her. That is something I will NEVER regret doing but if I would have moved back home, I could have transferred and not missed as much work as I did. This cost me paychecks (or at least good chunks of them) and huge credit card bills. I had to have gas, food, and pay bills right?
5) Not calling my student loan companies more. I had all of my student loans go into default because I wasn’t making enough for a payment—which I wasn’t making enough for a big payment like they wanted but I should have put them into forbearance and not just ignored them. Communication is key—well, part of a key. The other part would have been showing them the fact I didn’t have a lot of income and working out a good payment schedule that could have worked for the both of us.
That’s the five mistakes I made while out of college. Okay the five biggest ones! I’m sure I have more (okay I know I do) but those really stand out to me. I’m fixing them slowly and feeling pretty darn good about myself though. Even though I made the mistakes, I’m owning up to them and getting them fixed. And, as always, hopefully someone reading this won’t make the same mistake I did.
It’s the little things that get me every single time. Sometimes it’s a great thing, like when my guy comes home with $1.99 beef jerky and surprises me. (It’s the only kind of beef jerky I’ll eat out here—the stuff I love costs $15 a pound and exists only in upstate NY unless I want to ship it to myself for $23ish) And sometimes it’s me being extremely silly in some areas. How silly you ask? And I know you are scoffing to yourself, quietly, thinking that I would never be silly. No? Really? Well, fine than. Moving on.
For instance, when we first were moving into our new place way back in December (wow, time flies!), I was doing the budget and forgot to include groceries for part of the month. Now, if this would have yielded us a huge amount to put into savings, I would have caught when I was adjusting everything. Instead, that part of the month was barely breaking even as it was. Come to that Friday, I was sitting there and writing out on my handy little sticky note our biweekly budget and found that we had an “extra” 50 dollars that we could save. So I was pumped! We had gone from saving about a $100 every 2 weeks (if not more) into barely putting $20 away for our efund. And then I noticed I had nothing written down for groceries. I than had the joy of trying to figure out if how to pull an extra $100 out of the budget. I remember moving some saving goals around and just squeaking buy that two week period. Well, squeaking by for what we were used to—we didn’t spend over what we had earned and we were nowhere near as bad as what we had been in the past.
Now for my next awesome move. Remember how I have said I do the budget months in advance and just update as needed? Apparently my awesome skills of looking at a calendar failed. I did fine up until May and was than deciding we would be getting paid on Thursdays instead of Fridays. If that wasn’t enough I had us getting paid at the end of one month and a week later, we were getting paid again at the beginning of the next month. Granted, it wasn’t horrible—I just had to shift some dates and when the rent was being paid or the utilities but I felt dumb just for doing it. To make matters worse, I had these dates being used in saving goals and payment goals. This means I had to go fix them there as well. Oh and apparently, I magically learned how to read the calendar for December’s budgets and fixed it. No idea how I did that without noticing that it was about three weeks between being paid but I did.
Thankfully, this last one didn’t cost money. Just my pride as I wasn’t even the one who figured it out. The first one was something that didn’t hurt us too much as I could finagle what we were saving for and we weren’t living on a prayer. Anybody else do something like this? Or is just me?