Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Best Revenge

Jerry Seinfeld had a stand-up bit about the saying, "The best revenge is living well."  I don't remember how it went, but it had something to do with having a nice house doesn't really mean you have vanquished your foe. I wish I could find it, because it was funny, although obviously not that memorable.

Anyway, sometimes living well is the best revenge, when actual revenge isn't an option.  For example, me! Ten years ago today, I signed a lease for a new apartment after I had broken up with my live-in girlfriend.  I remember the date because it was her birthday, and I felt a little bad about that.  But things had gotten pretty awful between us, and by "awful," I mean totally the worst break-up I know of.  Like, Henry VIII bad. Over the previous four years, she had attempted to fight off depression with purchases, and because I was a nice guy, I often let her use my credit card, since she was younger and didn't have any credit.  Probably still doesn't.  But I digress.

Anyway, I've written about her enough on here over the years, but I wanted to bring it up because I was recently shredding some of my old credit card statements, and came across a few that gave me pause.  Like this one:

The prices aren't on here, but trust me, they were all three digits.  This statement had arrived after we had broken up, and I was going to get her to pay me back for the highlighted purchases.  The not highlighted ones were somehow negotiated out of the payback price, like they were stuff we bought for the apartment.  They definitely weren't mine.  I don't do a lot of shopping at Fashion Bug or Delia's.  Just Victoria's Secret.
I don't think I got back all of the money, but over the next few years, the balance on this card continued to rise, even with Keri out of my life, the balance topped out at about $11,000.  The minimum payment at one point was over $400, and the interest rate: 29.99%  That's about when I sought serious help.
In 2008, I entered into a program with Community Credit Counseling Corporation, a company that negotiates with your creditors in order to help you pay off your debt.  One large sum is taken out of your checking account every month and distributed to the various creditors in the program.  I put four cards into the program that year, and two of them have now been paid off, and the other two, including the one pictured, will be paid off by next week.  I'm almost in the clear.
I'm not going to say it was an easy road, because every month for the last five years I had to make sure the lump sum was in my account, and those credit cards were closed, so no more borrowing.  But it was definitely the smartest thing I could have possibly done.  Having that weight over my head for the last decade was unbelievably stressful, and I never felt like I had Keri fully off my back until I paid off her debt.  Now, it is done.
The point to all this, other than proof that I dated a girl who paid a lot of money for crappy clothes, is change.  Not only was I flabbergasted by some of the purchases she had made on my cards, but some of the purchases I made.  And seeing that I was paying over $400 a month, and the balance was never going down is quite sobering.  And finally, the big question: Where is all that stuff?  All the stuff we bought for the apartment is gone (we only lived there for about three months).  All her clothes are probably long gone.  Even the girl is gone, in a way.  All that money wasted on stuff I thought was really important at the time, and now none of it exists.
Ten years later, nearly out of debt, I can say that I am wiser, happier, and living well.