One of the biggest changes between having credit card debt and not having it is psychological. It’s all in your head. When you’re under the strain of debt, it’s constantly pressing on you, stressing you out, making you worry. Do I have enough money to pay for this? Is this going to max out my card? Is my card going to get rejected? How much is this going to cost me in interest? We still use our cards for points, and not having to worry about any of that is fabulous.
This all came to light recently on our vacation to St. Maarten. We were married there in 2006, right before we woke up and began climbing out of credit card debt. While we were there in 2006, we had almost no money in our bank account and most of our credit cards were maxed out. The one card we had that wasn’t maxed out was American Express. Being young and naïve, we didn’t realize that American Express wouldn’t be accepted everywhere we went. We learned that very quickly when we went to pick up our rental car and had to give them our bank card for the security deposit, thereby locking up all the available funds we had in our bank account. After that, we were forced to use the credit card and the few traveler’s cheques we had brought for everything.
The dire need to get out from under all this debt was demonstrated on our wedding night. After the reception, we went to pay the restaurant for their services. In the islands, the credit card machines are less than reliable. That night, the card kept getting rejected, and there was no way to determine whether it was our card or the machine. Picture us standing there, still in our wedding clothes, freaking out and trying to hide it that there might not be enough room on the card to pay for the reception that had just ended. Talk about being in debt causing you stress!
Fortunately, the restaurant owner was very understanding and offered to keep the card and try again the next day. It turned out that it was a problem with the machine and not our card, but that moment of utter panic was horrible. It helped fuel us to never let that happen again.
When we traveled back to St. Maarten in September, we experienced a similar difficulty with their technology when renting our car. The credit card machine wasn’t working, but this time we were sure it was their equipment and not our credit card. After a few tries (and no panic), we just paid him in cash. Easy, stress free, SO MUCH BETTER than before. The peace of mind in situations like that are my favorite part of being out of credit card debt.