My Story: A Converted Spendthrift

by Cathy

In my early 20's I lived the "Vida Loca". This included $60.00 bar tabs, designer duds, the best perfumes, expensive hair cuts, acrylic fingernails, expensive gym memberships, etc. etc. etc.

When I got married at 23 I continued to spend money without rhyme or reason. I spent $90.00 on earrings and $250.00 on an outfit I wore only a handful of times. Oh those were the days my friend.

A few months into the marriage my husband had a car accident and was injured. We continued to spend money like it was going out of style and my husband's health continued to worsen. Eventually he went on disability and my bubble was permanently burst. Our debt skyrocketed to about $25,000.00 in credit card bills. It was quite devastating. The marriage fell apart and we soon divorced. I was left with $15,000.00 worth of bills to pay off as a newly single woman. On the average I had been earning only $16,500.00 per year at this time.

I refused to file bankruptcy however. The debt collectors harrassed me for awhile but eventually I got current on my bills. It was very difficult but I gave up the designer hair cuts and clothes and stopped living the "Vida Loca."

I gave myself small treats for successes such as paying off an account. I learned to wear the clothes I had and to stop buying new ones. I found that old clothes look just as good as new ones as long as you press them. I learned to wash delicate garments by hand instead of sending them to the dry cleaner. I learned to be happy with what I had.

Now I am debt free except for a car loan. If I could do it over I would never have purchased a vehicle on credit. I would have bought a used car and paid cash for it.

As I have grown older, (now I'm 33), I have learned so many lessons about living. Money problems can destroy your marriage, your health and your self confidence. I've found that it's better to live within your means and do without.

I still look as good as I did when I was in my early twenties (with the addition of a few wrinkles) but it doesn't cost me nearly as much. I work out at home with Jane Fonda and Kathy Smith on the DVD Player (no gym fees), I don't bother with the fake nails, I only have one bottle of my favorite perfume and I use it sparingly, I dye my own hair and only have my hair cut about every 2 months. I buy my designer clothes from the Salvation Army and they still look great. I only go out to the bar or to out eat once a week at the most. I cook from scratch and bake bread in my bread machine. Yes I eat a lot of oatmeal, rice and homemade bread ! They are cheap and healthy ! I got my bread machine at a garage sale for $20.00 and it's a $160.00 model. I paid $6.00 for my juicer and $3.50 for my blender. They work great. In the old days I never would have even considered buying something used. Now I feel guilty if I buy anything new because I know I am probably paying too much!

I am now older and wiser and I know how hard I have worked to recover from debt. You could call me a converted spendthrift.

My Story is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you'd like to tell us your story please email it to with "My Story" as the subject. You don't need to be a writer. We're looking for good, frugal living ideas. Not aspiring authors!

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