I'm a fashion blogger who doesn't use credit cards | Suger Coat It

You know what, I think it’s very important that I say this here. Hubby and I talked about it at length one night. You see, when we met I had a little ‘thing’ for credit cards. That little thing had got me in some ‘big’ trouble. I had almost $15,000 on credit and store cards and had applied for two more online. I thought to myself, why not? I had a house, was paying down a small mortgage on it and always had some sort of job. What’s a little credit card action going to hurt, right?

Wrong.

I met Hubby, the super saver and on paper I look like a pretty good bet. I owned my car, I had a house with at least $50,00 equity in it, I was young with decent earning potential and a teeny bit of money in the bank. But that was a lie. Pretty soon the cards started to back up on me. This one got maxed out, this other one went into default and transferred the entire balance to 30% interest.

I started to sink below the weight of the repayments and then my hours got cut. That $15,00 in credit started inching towards $20,000. I freaked out. Hubby, recently engaged to my person and talking buying a house with me, freaked out too. Borrowing would be almost impossible with that amount of cards hanging over my {our – now} head.

Credit lesson learned.

It took us over a year to pay that money back. Almost two actually. It took budget’s and plans. It wasn’t easy. For me, it really was like breaking an addiction. I’ve quit smoking and sugar and giving up my credit cards was harder. We followed a method commonly found on the internet, in books and pretty much everywhere*.

First, we cut the cards up and stopped using them. Not a single cent more went on those cards. We made the minimum monthly repayment on all cards, every month, no question. We transferred balances to low-interest cards with no fee’s where it make sense to. Then the real work started and this is how we did it.

Then we took a $200 a week {it can be any amount you like, we had good jobs by this stage so committed more} and put it on the card with the biggest interest rate/highest cost weighing in penalties and all that. So we were paying $800’is + the monthly repayment on that card every single month. Soon it was paid down and the account closed.

Then we took that $800’ish a month, plus card 1’s monthly repayment and put it on the next most problematic card. The idea is that it would get paid down that little bit faster and the one after even faster and so on until all the cards were cleared. Closing each account as we went soon we were left with none.

Thank goodness!

Hubby now has a single card he used as leverage to open his business last year. A low-interest card it made more sense than taking out a business or personal loan. That small card will be paid off this year. Credit isn’t a bad thing, as a real estate kid I encourage people to borrow all the money in the world for investment purposes.

But the thing you have to remember is that you can only call it an investment if it makes you more money at the end of the day {thanks Rich Dad/Poor Dad}. And as much as I love my wardrobe, second-hand, clothes are worth diddly squat. So let me get to the guts of sharing all of this. Shall I?

When I show you great clothes, talk shoes and accessories, I want you to consider not buying them if you have to use credit. Consider a wardrobe challenge {shop your wardrobe, you’d be surprised what’s in there if you’re anything like me} or ANYTHING ELSE. Clothes swap, trade, borrow or save up for it. You know, old school. Haha.

I encourage you to start to pay those cards down. Sooner rather than later. Cut those cards up and stick to your debit card. Only spend money you have. I think you enjoy the purchases more when you do. Well I know I do. Just give it a go, try not to add any more to your account.

So will you accept my challenge? Are you already credit card free? How did YOU do it?  

* Dudes, I am not a financial planner. I am not a professional debt consolidator or anything like that. I just slogged my guts out to pay some stinking cards off and wanted to make sure that I tell every single person possible NOT to use them. Like, ever. Also, no judgement if you have cards, there are people out there who maintain them responsibly and use them the way that they should be used {you know, like pay off the entire balance every month or only in emergencies and the balance is cleared soon after}. I’m not one of them. 

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  • Amy Rea

    Wish words Mrs Suger! Wish words indeed. We are currently paying of some credit card debt at the moment. Hopefully we will have it all paid off in full by the end of the year! And I can’t wait to close that account!

  • michelle

    what a great post! When my engagement ended, i ended up with alot of debt. with two children in toe,their father (aka sperm donor!) interstate, i took them to work at 5am every morning, dropped them to preschool at 9am and headed off to my day job. I did the same as you, minimum payments on everything and extra payment on one till that debt was gone. I knocked off $16,000 in the three years ive been a single mum. Now my eldest has just started primary school i can afford to go back to university.
    i loveeeee shopping and new clothes although im still a super tight arse! Another way of creating a new wardrobe is to network with business owners, managers and photographers.you may score a photo shoot with them and although you dont get cash payment you keep the clothes – obviously this isnt for every small business but you’ll never know if you dont try! =))

    • michelle

      p.s in that 3years i also had no financial support from their father, “$16,000 plus the interest and fees and paid all the usual bills; $350 p/week in rent, medical bills etc .. it is possible for everyone to do.

      If you want to do something you’ll find a way ~ if not, you’ll find an excuse =)

      • Cassandra J

        I love that last statement, I think I’m going to put it in my office!

      • Love that quote! So true for almost everything in life.

    • Seriously, what an amazing inspiration you are. Well done. I’m so glad that you finally get to invest in yourself. So glad. What an inspiration you must be to your kids.

      I might have to try the photo shoot thing, though not too many of them in my little town. Might have to spread my net wider… Hmmm.

  • sydneyshopgirl

    Great post, Melissa! You’ve inspired me to keep on the straight and narrow.

    SSG xxx

  • You are so wise. Big job ahead for me this year is to clear that debt before moving to Brisbane.

    • Naaw, too kind. It takes something, for sure, but it’s worth it. Maybe if you don’t pay it, you won’t have to move and you can stay here? Haha.

  • Sarah Collins

    My fiancee’s ex left him $20,000 in debt. We are still paying this off (well, he is – i am still job hunting after almost a year of being unemployed) and the idea of paying for our wedding is just a long way in the future (we barely get by on one income and whatever pittance Centrelink throws my way). I myself have never been in debt and have never had a credit card and I completely agree with your post. I know this sounded like a big whinge and well, it was a big whinge, but I think it’s important to learn from your mistakes.

    • A justified whinge indeed. I’m not sure what I would have done if Hubby walked into our relationship with such a large debt from a previous relationship. Sexually transmitted debt I think they call that. Haha. Good luck to you both, I hope you can get it out of the way quickly and enjoy the wedding you deserve. Debt free!

  • Cassandra J (@littleoliverj)

    Perfect! It creeps up so quickly. My parents went bankrupt when I turned 18, lost everything as everything was on credit. My sister paid for a wedding, now when I say sister I mean bank. She then had to put off uni to pay it off, and the marriage sadly feel apart.
    I have NEVER had a credit card. I lie, I have a HSBC and purchased a laptop once interest free, kept up my repayments and paid it off in 8 months. My husband and I then did the same with a fridge, eight months later it’s ours. We do have a car loan, we call it a working loan. Once that’s paid off, we’ll look at buying a house. We’ve never missed a payment, we’ll have killer credit history.
    Sadly I had to see the worst that credit can bring. It’s not yours, none of it, until it’s paid off. If you can pay it off then it’s great, if you can’t it’s awful, stressful, nasty, and unnecessary.
    I want a new car, but I’ve learnt to put need first and I sure as sh$* don’t NEED one. We save first, buy later. It’s a life lesson I learnt through others and I’m grateful I’ve never had to learn it myself.
    You go girl, setting a goal and paying it off. This is a great read thank you for sharing your story and maybe you’ve done for others what my folks and sister did for me.
    I think, though, it’s important to recognise that sometimes debt is more important than no debt. My friend just got her first credit card to pay for a surgery for her two year old, again want over need can sometimes be need over want to not be in debt. But surgery is so different to a pair of shoes, obviously.
    Another beautiful post Suger!

    • Thank you Cassandra. And thank you for sharing your story. A great example for us all, I know how much a childhood experiences can impact on a person, you’ve done a great job of managing your money by the sound of things!

      Surgery is one of those actual emergencies that people often get cards in case of. And it never happens to them and ends up being used for shoes. It’s tricky like that, I think. Sending all my love and best wishes to your friend and her 2 year old.

  • Rach aka Stinkb0mb

    We have ONE credit card. It’s original limit was $4900 [weird amount right?] and just before I went back to the UK just over 2 years ago, we upped the limit to $7900 “just in case”. Well the “just in cases” moved on to other things and last year we found ourselves with a debt of $7500.

    I was so pissed off! It was sucking the life out of us, all my pay was going to that and I hated it. So I decided that I was determined to pay as much of it off before Christmas last year.

    I paid the entire thing, so $7500, off in 2.5 months. I threw every single penny we had at it. We enjoyed Christmas last year with a Credit Card balance of $0 – SUCH an amazing feeling. We then immediately lowered the limit to $3k for emergencies. It’s currently sitting at $1500 after we finally caved & bought two new couches after sitting on something that was the epitome of uncomfortable for nearly 7 years – my back just couldn’t take anymore and I rarely spent any time in the lounge because after half an hour sitting on it, I was in agony.

    I’m happy to report that, that $1500 was WELL spent, the new lounges are SO comfy and the credit card will again be showing a $0 balance in less than 2 weeks :-))

    Now the credit card is just for emergencies – anything not an emergency has to be saved up for – which I think actually makes you enjoy it all the more when you do get it.

    p.s. And yup, I did consider the new couches as emergencies – I need a functioning back for my job!

    • WELL DONE. Amazing example Rach. I can imagine how fulfilling it must have been to get rid of that, I know when we made it to the end we were SO darn excited. It was ridiculous. I think using the credit card like you do is well within the parameters of using it well.

      p.s. A considered purchase by the sound of things, and yes, I can see a couch as an emergency, I’m sitting on my old dying one now and would almost trade Hubby for a decent couch. 😉

      • I saved my ass off to get my new couch but I know the feeling, totally an investment and worth every cent.

  • I completely agree, we haven’t used credit for willy nilly purchases in a long time now.

    When my husband and I joined finances we had approximately $64,000 debt and no savings. A personal loan and credit card each and he also had an excessive secured work vehicle loan. We now have $12,000 remaining plus a card that we have big ticket interest free items on (about $3,000 worth which will be paid off in about 6 months – literally YEARS before IF runs out).

    Once my husbands low interest rate “business” card is paid off, we will drop the limit right down for work emergencies only. We also actually have savings now and split the money about 70/30 – debt/savings. My little debt app says we should be completely debt free by September next year. Weeee!

    • Oh and we save for pretty much everything now, holiday in July for 3 is already paid in full. Win!

    • What app do you use?

      • I currently use Debt Free (the paid version) but it doesn’t have as many options as I’d like. It is good to put the basic figures into though to find out how long you’ve got left. I used to use a different one but accidentally got rid of it one day and by the time I had noticed (pre-knuckling down) I had forgotten the app name. I really need to suss out an Australian one though as most only give the option of monthly payments rather than weekly.

    • Congratulations on how far you’ve come, I know THAT would not have been an easy path. Not at all. No way. Well done. I too would love to know what the app you use to track it all is. Sounds useful.

      • Thank you, it has taken a while. It’s been about 3.5 years since we joined forces to banish the debt-devil, haha. Knowing that we’ll be debt free just after our son turns 3 is a great relief and we’ll be on the road to buying a house (read:home). 🙂

  • Annaleis

    This is a great message to put out there. I love that I also see you mixing and matching outfits.

    • Thank you Annaleis. It’s important, I think, that people know I would never want them to live outside of their means to keep up or fit in with some idea I had created. I’m glad you enjoy it. I know I do! 😀

  • Mrs Woog

    When you say CREDIT near Mr Woog, he has a heart attack!

  • Jess

    I was stupid enough to get a credit card to take to Europe in case of emergencies last year. Of course, by the time I left I had a little bit (think $1500) on it and by the time I came back more again. Then after oh-em-gee I can finally spend money again, I went a little berserk and last week I was left with $10 credit left on my $4000 card. Money I’d spent on god knows what.

    Wake up call. I immediately transferred some meagre savings onto it and all going to plan I will have it paid off in a couple of months. But it just goes to show that I can’t be trusted with a credit card. I’d planned on building up my savings as soon as coming back from holiday and instead, six months later, thanks to the joys of credit, I’m in the same position.

    • We did the same thing when we went overseas. A $5,000 card from memory, spent $1,500 overseas and the rest after we got home on goodness knows WHAT. Was ridiculous. But a lesson well learnt now. I’m sure you’ll knock the plan out of the park and wipe that sucker out in no time. xo

  • Love love love love LOVE this post. You inspired me to share my own story on my blog because I had too much to say in the comments. http://www.danimezza.com/2013/02/savings-spendings-debt/

  • Sophie

    Cool post! My goal is to pay off my credit card this year.

  • Patrick weseman

    I have one just in case, but I try to pay for everything in cash. Just my way. I watched my mom get into credit card trouble and when she died they came after me. Long story, but I did not pay her bills. But I have seen others get into trouble. I only buy on credit if I am living in it(like now), driving it or looking at in my house doing something functional.

    • It’s easier to say no to it when you watch someone you care about get into some serious trouble with it. Absolutely. It makes you really consider what to use it for and how.

  • great post, and thanks so much for sharing your story. I once got in to credit card trouble – oh gawd its hard work to get out of it! Well done you x

    • Thank you Louisa, I’ glad to. I think there needs to be a balance here. It’s SUCH hard work to get out of. Prevention, as always, it better than the cure. 😉

  • Mez @ Listen Sookie

    Love, LOVE THIS POST. I have a similar story which I think you’ve inspired me to air on the blog. I love the shopping your wardrobe idea too, so many forgotten items! Mez xx

    • Thank you! I’m glad. It needs to be a conversation more of us have. Keeping it simple and living within our means and all that.

  • I love this post, Melissa. Joel and I don’t use credit anymore either. We did. When we got married, for the first year or two all was fine. Then came the credit cards, ‘interest free’ finance and personal loans. All of them, up the wazoo. I believe that it was from this {and the ubiquitous debt collectors} that my anxiety disorder stemmed.

    It took us a few years to learn our lesson. Defaulted cards. Cards maxed out. We have been doing as you did, for the past 2 or 3 years. Our debt was significantly higher than yours! :-O
    We’re in the home stretch. The car is paid off. The personal loans are paid off (all of these happened in the past 2 months). Now there is the last of the GE card and the credit card. 6 months should see us clear.

    If often look at the Aussie Curves posts and feel a bit sad because I can’t justify, right now, buying new clothes or accessories.
    But I feel good knowing we’re making great progress and that in good time, it will be an option. No credit though. 🙂

    • Thank you Melissa. And thanks so much for sharing your story and congratulations to you and Joel for the amazing progress you’ve made. I look forward to seeing you join in the Aussie Curves posts sometime soon. REALLY soon, maybe even shopped from your wardrobe.

  • This is an excellent post. CCs can case so much pain. My hubby and I want to buy a house this year and had a CC debt we will be finally paid off by next month. Its taken us months and we have cut done on so much, but that day we make final payment and close the account will be SO worth the effort 🙂

    • Thank you. They do, when not managed well, they can be the WORST. Great work on the pay down of the card, it will absolutely be worth it when you’re moving into your new home! Good luck.

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  • A great post Suger! I have one credit card and I only use it when I know I have the money in my savings/online account to transfer straight away so I NEVER pay interest. For me it’s a better way to treat myself when I find that perfect wishlist item, rather than leave money in my everyday account that I would then access for convenience. My having to use the credit card – then do an online transfer when I get home – I stop and think about each purchase. If it’s no on my wishlist, or a basic at an amazing price, then I don’t put it on the card. Even though I know I will pay it back straight away, the idea of using ‘credit’ makes me nervous so I only use it when it’s really worth it 🙂

    • Thank you. This is such a great plan. Great idea, considered and responsible. Love it!

  • Wow … well done you … I think you offer some great advice.

    • Thank you. I’m glad to pass it on, if one person avoids their cards because of this, then I win. Corny but true. 😉

  • Alyson Hill

    Such a great honest post; I’m still always stunned to discover people who don’t shop at the thrift!

    • Thank you!

      Around here thrift shops can be a little lame. Well, that’s my excuse. I’ve looked and tried. But I keep on trying!

  • Kim H

    Great advice! Credit cards are such a stumbling block to most people. They freak me out! x

    • Thank you. Haha. Me too a little now. I refuse to get one even with the intention of paying it back as I use it.

  • Seana Smith

    Such an important message… I hope my kids never get into credit card debt. When I met my hubby many years ago I was amazed that he paid his full credit card debt every single month… I’d never thought of that! We have done ever since, a huge relief.

    • Thank you. I think to some degree most of us do, fingers crossed it’s nothing major for them. I knew someone would know SOMEONE who has the power to do this! Well done Hubby and well done you.

  • Totally agree with you. I left my first marriage with a credit card debt and it took ages to pay down, I plan to never have another credit card I just can’t be responsible with them!

    • Well great job on paying them down! Nothing worse that sexually transmitte debt. 😉 Or so I hear and have witnessed in my career as a property manager. Eeek. THE WORST.

  • LifeInAPInkFibro

    Good on you! Thanks for Rewinding.

    • Thank you! And I was excited to have the chance to rewind! I didn’t realise it was back. EXCITING.

  • jotracey

    Hey there, jumping over from rewind…great post, great suggestions…

  • Lynda @HomeleaLass

    That’s great advice! I’m credit card debit free, and I do it by paying of the credit card every month, and only using it when I absolutely have to. I try to use my debit card where possible.

    Cheers,
    Lynda

    • It’s the only way really to make them work! Thanks for dropping by Lynda. 🙂

  • I love this post! We have a card we keep at around 2.5 thousand, but we seem to manage to max it out every year and then pay it off every year when tax time rolls around. But this year we are going to cut it up. They just aren’t worth it. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you! I’m glad. These cards really aren’t worth it. You are always playing catch up, even when managed responsibly like you have been.

  • I feel so strongly about being a budget fashionista, I even wrote a post about why my blog is a Designer Free Zone … http://redlandcityliving.com/designer-free-zone/

    • I LOVE designers, not necessarily the ones you mentioned but those men and women creating unique pieces, using responsible methods to deliver them to market. Indie designers I think they call them, as in independent I assume.They are essential in my mind and such an important part of the industry. Like the independent grocer compare to Coles.

      It’s funny you mention this, I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I’m moving more towards the idea that I would prefer one $200 handbag to 10 $20 ones, one pair of beautiful jeans compared to lots of the cheaper variety that wear out more often and need to be replaced. I was just thinking about this today, isn’t cheap fashion exactly like buying $2 milk, it feels good now but what happens when there’s no other suppliers left and they price goes WAY up? It’s a conversation worth having. One I’m only now having with myself on a real level. For me, it’s time to review the way I consume.

      • Always good to consume thoughtfully! There is so much to think about these days – are the garments made by workers who are treated well and have safe workplaces, and not being exploited, could we look more into op shopping & recycling or upcycling fashion, and yes, indie designers should be encouraged so that the monopolies don’t take over the world …

        I just know for the longest time anything over 20 bucks was pure “dream on” material in our household!

        • I was asking lots of questions yesterday of someone in the industry and I feel like we as consumers have no information given to us and no way of tracking it down. There has to be a shift towards companies being more transparent on their manufacturing, surely.

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  • I had about the same amount of debt by the end of my 20s. Outrageously high interest car loan payments (on a broken down car) plus multiple credit cards, followed by a bout of unemployment meant I didn’t have the capacity to pay the debt off. So I had to declare bankruptcy. Boy that was humbling! I didn’t have or want any sort of credit for the next 12 years or so. I now have one card with the lowest limit on offer, but it feels a bit like a millstone around my neck. Once I’m working again, I want to pay that bugger off, pronto.
    Great to talk openly about these issues, people often think they need to carry more debt than they do.
    Thank goodness for lay-by!

    • Thank goodness indeed! I think it’s important to learn how to live within your means, sometimes it takes a big kick like you had to get us on track, but I know that’s a lesson you’d never ‘unlearn’. Good luck with the job hunt lady! I know the perfect job is going to show up for you.