Monday Motivation: How I Kicked Mindless Spending to the Curb

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motivationmondaysm I have a confession to make: I used to shop for sport. In fact, I used to shop when I was bored, lonely, stressed or wanting to blow off some steam. I used to make shopping a day-long, social affair. I bought junk that I didn’t need—and a lot of it.

The worst part of my confession?

I used to bankroll my mindless, needless spending sprees with… credit cards.

Mindless Spending Gone Way, Way Wrong

During the height of my heyday, I can remember going shopping for an entire weekend. It started off innocently enough with a friend wanting to check out some new outlet stores. However, it quickly morphed into an out of control spendapalooza that left me with no way to pay my rent. But hey, I had all these beautiful new clothes and things for my apartment! That had to count for something, right? Wrong.

A Beautiful Awakening

My plunge back to reality happened in three distinct steps: First, I began to struggle with my credit card minimums. When I couldn’t pay the bill on one, I transferred it to another. When the balance began to creep up towards my limit on one, I transferred that to another as well. I was in a vicious cycle of buy, buy, buy; hide, hide, hide.

Second, I did an inventory of my closet and discovered I had TEN black T-shirts hanging in there. Five of which had the tags still on them. Why on Earth did I have so much of the same thing? Basically, I was a slave to sales and whenever I saw a “good” deal, I had to have whatever item it was—even if I already had a closet filled with them (of course which I didn’t know because the closet was so overstuffed that I couldn’t really see/know what I had anyway).

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Third, I found myself in a store where the price tags were far beyond anything my budget could dream of handling. As I made my way to the counter (yes, to buy something I had absolutely no business purchasing), it suddenly dawned on me that I had no idea why I was about to plunk down yet another credit card for yet another needless purchase. As I set the item down and turned to walk out of the store without it, that was it—I went cold turkey on shopping.

Reality Bites

Of course, it wasn’t that easy when I returned home to my looming credit balances. I remember crying, cursing and feeling horribly overwhelmed about the mess I put myself in. But that’s the thing—I did this to myself. And I would have to be the one to dig myself out of it if I ever wanted a financially secure future.

Onward and Upward

But digging out is exactly what I did. At one point, I was working 6 jobs to pay off my debts. I managed to clear my $14K of credit card debt in under a year. While I realize this isn’t typical and maybe not everyone has the option to work so much, the point is that if I can do it; if I can dig myself out of a financial abyss and never look back, ANYONE can.

What it took was believing in myself; in valuing my own self-worth. I’m more than a pretty sweater or handbag, and I’m definitely more than a mountain of credit card debt. If you’re struggling to pay off your own credit card debt, I hope that by sharing bits of my story, you’ll be more motivated than ever to kick your own debt to the curb.

When it boils down to it, getting out of credit card debt is possible—you just have to believe in yourself and work through the tough times until you reach that sweet reward of a zero dollar balance.

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Jen is the owner of The Happy Homeowner, where she writes about living a healthy, balanced life one cent at a time. Previously, she paid off $14K in credit card debt in less than a year and hasn’t looked back since. Follow along on Twitter with her financial, fitness and travel adventures @bthhomeowner!