Debt: Choose Your Battles
This month, I was floored and my jaw dropped to the ground. My credit card balance ballooned to triple its normal amount! What on earth happened?!?! I quickly reviewed my card activity from last month. “There must be a mistake! I’m a victim of identity theft! This can’t be my balance! I’m a very frugal, penny pinching, and live within my means kind of guy!” Unfortunately, every line item checked out.
Now before you call me a hypocrite, petition for my removal from the Yakezie challenge, or demand my webhosting company shut down my blog, I have a reasonable explanation. Last month, my wife and I took an amazing journey through Europe. You might be thinking, “This guy is a joke! Here he is preaching about personal finance when his own finances are out of control!” Upon first review, I would agree with you completely, but hear me out. After winning this tour package from Trafalgar several months ago, I was hesitant to even claim the prize. “What about airfare? What about the value of the dollar? What about daily expenses? What about souvenirs and excursions?” On top of that, my wife and I were headed to Asia for a trip we’ve been planning for awhile. “This is too much travel! We can visit Europe when we retire!” My partner in crime countered, “When is the next time we win an all expense paid European tour package? What if you never get to see Europe?!?!” Then it hit me. Like Keanu Reeves said so eloquently, “Woah…”
As you know from my latest credit card bill, we ended up going. No regret as it was one of the most memorable vacations of my life! (When things settle down, I will dig through my notes for my attempts at travel writing. Stay tuned.) Knowing what I know now, I can’t even believe I thought about NOT going. This is not a justification for splurging and being frivolous. On the contrary, this is my personal story on why it is so important to wisely manage your finances. Since I keep my expenses in check and had a nice cushion of savings, we could safely dip into our emergency fund for this once in a lifetime trip. I know, I know, a vacation isn’t an emergency, but take a step back and look at all the facts. If you were in my shoes, I hope you would come to the same conclusion. Choose your debt battles wisely and may your emergency fund be solvent enough to handle once in a lifetime “emergencies”. 🙂