How I Ruined My Credit In Three Months

If TFD has something close to a genesis story, it would almost certainly me destroying my credit at 18 in a haze of insecurity-and-YOLO spending. And I’ve definitely discussed the event generally, as well as its aftermath and how I rebuilt my financial health. But I’ve never really gone into the specifics of that time in my life, or the emotional turmoil that led me to devastating myself financially in such a way. Long story short, as someone who grew up (relatively) poor, and then moved to an incredibly WASPy town full of pervasive, seemingly-effortless prosperity, much of my high school and college years were defined by a class longing, a desire to be someone I never was and never would be (and that included the purchase of many Lilly Pulitzer shift dresses, a look I still admittedly love but would now never buy when I couldn’t afford basic toiletries).

This of course manifested in recklessly spending on the right clothes, the right “experiences,” the right superficial signs of wealth. I of course ran through the piddly credit card I had access to, but I also spent the money I earned at my adolescent jobs with a similar abandon. As I had at least one (usually two) jobs at all times from the age of 14, I almost certainly earned somewhere around $50,000 by the time I moved to France at 21, but I found myself with absolutely nothing so show for it. I spent, spent, spent, because money never felt like something to build on to me — it felt like means to an end. I of course cringe when I look at the incredible amount of money I frittered away at that time, but getting on the road to financial health is better done late than never.

Now, I understand more than anything how much one’s emotional health is the first step in any kind of financial building. If I am not confronting the why of my habits around spending, avoidance, or aspiration, I will never figure out the how of fixing it. So, in an effort to really dissect some of those issues, this week’s video is all about how I ruined my credit, and how I will never do it again.

Image via Pexels

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  • Bee

    I think the fact that you got a Hello Kitty credit card just shows you that the banks were targeting teenagers. Preying on them even!

    • Clytamnestra Dunge

      imo the only thing a bank should ever be allowed to do at a school is hand out ‘how to save money’ advise and encouragement.

      It was stupid to get a creditcard the day you turned 18. And it is good that you owe up to that stupidity. But that certainly doesn’t absolve the adults who should have hammered home the concept of ‘borrowing -> paying back with interest’

  • Refinnej7

    “I understand more than anything how much one’s emotional health is the first step in any kind of financial building.”
    When I finally saw the link between my depression and my terrible spending habits, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. It was so simple, yet so unbeknownst to me all those years. I’m right there with you, girl!!

    • Jack

      YES. I spent so much at Sephora and on clothes which I see now was just a sad attempt to make me happy. Honestly when I figured out the link, I was terrified I didn’t have shopping as a crutch anymore. I had to deal with my emotions the hard way. womp womp.

      • Judith

        It’s been similar for me. When I actually manage to deal with them makes me feel so high on empowerment and being in charge of myself. It’s one of the greatest highs ever and makes me want to do it more and more.

  • Ellie Rockhill

    GIRL. I had the hello kitty credit card too! And I totally hear you on the 2007/Uggs situation. Thank you for being so candid and sharing such specific details… sometimes I hear people say vague stuff like, “I made bad choices” and it is hard to really relate. Hearing those little nuances really made it hit home a lot more with me, and I imagine will be the case for others as well. Love you, brave one. Thanks for making this safe, sacred space for us!!!!

    • Clytamnestra Dunge

      Since this blog is specifically about financial problems i dislike it even more when people only make vague statements about ‘overspending’ or ‘making a budget’ in their inspirational stories. Give me the sordid details, please.

  • (Your hair looks amazing and that turtleneck is so cute.)