What was my points’ balance? Cue the heart attack.

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I was doing some online banking this morning (and cringing at my credit card balance, as I often do) when I had a great idea. What if I could redeem the points on my credit card for a gift card towards paying off what I owe to MasterCard?

I thought this was the most magical idea, so I created an account on their Rewards website to see what could be done. This is what greeted me when my account opened up:

No, that is not 100 points per dollar, or 10 points per dollar. That is ONE POINT PER DOLLAR. How have I spent that much money since turning 18? That wasn’t even FIVE years ago. My mind can’t wrap itself around this number. I’m a struggling student constantly attempting to pay off debt, and here I am wasting away my hard earned money.

You know how sometimes specialists say that when you’re living an *extreme* lifestyle that sees no bounds, the only way to stop yourself is by realizing you’re doing something WRONG? I often associate this with not eating well- when someone is unhealthy enough they will decide they’ve had enough and make a change- well you guys, I’ve had enough. I’m tired of spending LOADS of money that could be going towards things that matter.

How many of those points come from coffee or random dinners, movies and other things I could easily cut down on? My guess is at least half.

I’ve tried to budget myself many times before, but this morning as I shopped on the rewards website, somewhat laughing at the ridiculousness of the fact that I could buy almost anything I wanted, I realized it was time to make a change for REAL. Enough lack of willpower, enough giving in to Starbucks just *one more time*.

I know that I’ve gotten much MUCH better with my money in the last year, but I’m still nowhere near my goal of being a conservative spender. I don’t need a lot to live happily- I prefer to spend my money on traveling, on gifts, basic needs, and on saving for a decent life when I move out. My cinnamon dolce latte might make me happy in the morning, but add all those lattes up and the sum makes me feel like crap.

My points’ balance was just what I needed to see to jump start my budgeting again. I realize I’m in the middle of Christmas shopping, but there are still changes I can make as of this moment, and I plan to. Why start fresh in January to do something that I can do today? I’m so tired of making up excuses for myself.

It’s time to grow up a little bit and make choices that will benefit me in the long-term, not just fix my caffeine withdrawals.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what I’ll be doing with those points? I’m still debating it, but I think I’m going to redeem them as a check for my savings account. That feels like at least a little bit of good karma to get me started!

Have you ever had a breaking point that made you want to change something in your life dramatically?

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8 responses »

  1. I never had credit card debt (thank goodness – the whole credit card thing is handled very differently in Germany and student loans are not that common, so I guess I was lucky to never been put in the situation of having to rely on credit cards), but I can definitely relate to your blog post.

    I think it’s kinda awesome how many points you’ve earned (do you know how much cash you would get for those $34,000+ spent? Also, did you initially sign up for the reward program or was that retroactively? Those are a lot of points!

    I think it’s fantastic that you want to get your spending in order. I know it’s a thing that many, many people struggle with and it feels so good to be “within budget”. 🙂

  2. For awhile there I just took my credit card right out of my wallet and left it in a drawer. I almost immediately transfer a lot of my money into various savings accounts when I get paid and don’t keep a very big balance in my chequing account every month so I knew this would keep me from spending too much and it definitely worked. Sadly that was about a year ago and I’m back to relying on my CC again (even though I pay it off in full each month). I think it’s time to put it in the drawer again. I’m willing to bet my points would be very close in number to yours!!

  3. 2 years ago, I had to change jobs and took a job that paid 1/2 of what I was making (long story, it was the best decision for me, and I don’t regret it, but yikes it was an adjustment). So I really had to examine my spending habits and become a much more ‘lean’ spender.

    Now I am back to making what I used to make, but I try to spend money like I make 1/2 of what I make. I used to get a latte every day – now it’s a Friday treat. I used to eat out for lunch mulitple times a week – now it’s a once a week treat. There are so many small purchases that a person makes that add up so dang quickly.

    I hope you can get some gift cards or cash for your points! I usually cash mine in for gift cards as i get more than i would if I opted to go the cash back route. I just cashed in some points today for a Target gift card! 🙂

  4. Is it wrong if I laughed a little when I saw that number? Oh, Melissa. We are kindred spirits. I don’t get reward points (I’m looking into getting a card that DOES give me awards once I have paid my other cards off.) Once I pay off my monster credit card, I will have a very low balance on my other credit cards.

    Sometimes, you need that kick in the pants to finally do what you’ve been telling yourself you need to do. And honestly? This might be the best time to do it. It’s a season filled with overindulgence: in eating AND money. So if you can stick to a budget during this season? You can probably do it during the other months.

    I’m rooting for you!

  5. I had a very similar epiphany…so I used my points to buy an Amazon gift card to be put towards my savings fund of a new DSLR camera :]
    I hope you’re doing well! I do read all of your blog posts, I just have finally had time to comment! I even looked up what Boxer Day was when you mentioned it on one of your previous posts!! hahha

  6. One of my goals in the first quarter of 2012 is to track my spending and try to work on reducing what I consider my frivolous spending in stages. Like start and one month cut out 5% and see if I can get it down to half by the end of the year. Good luck!

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