Back on track

Several years ago I was in a great deal of financial trouble. I had a bad spending habit (some will recognise this as “retail therapy”), unstable employment (some will recognise this as “the dot-com boom”), and apparently porridge for brains (some will recognise this as “hee hee hee, oops”). Knowing you’ve got a history like this makes it hard to pull up a copy of one’s own credit report unless you’re planning to write a suicide note on the back of it. You almost wish they’d confuse you with someone else — not because the report might be better, but because there would at least be something different than the last time you looked.

Today I bit the bullet and got credit reports from both Equifax and TransUnion. I was in for a pleasant surprise.

I’m in the last six or so months of payments to cover old debt. That feels pretty darn good, because I’m coming down the other side of that mountain and picking up speed. The mountain doesn’t look any smaller from the other side, but it is nicer to look at when you’re beyond wondering when you’ll hit the top.

The best part is that I’ve got new spending habits that I’ve developed in the intervening time. I buy stuff when I can afford it, and make do with what I’ve got until I can. I don’t buy the cheapest thing that will “do for now”. I spend the money and buy what I want and need, and it’ll have to be pried out of my cold, dead fingers (or I’ll have to see something even better, like the 14-bit-per-pixel image engine on the Nikon D300 — but I’m not spending $1900 for two bits of colour space and being stuck with live view and a bunch of other features I don’t care about).

There’s something to be said about what makes that the case. Sure, there are words that come up, like “responsible”, “organised”, and “planning for the future”. Perhaps that’s true, but there’s more to it than that. A big, important change is that I’m no longer the novelty fetishist I used to be.

When I bought a laptop in the past it was usually some hunk of equipment that would do about half of what I needed and I could barely afford. Most of the time I would be eyeing up other systems before I had even bought the one I did. These days I’ve learned to appreciate what I’ve got. Heck, the last laptop I bought was almost identical to the last one I had, but had a 64-bit processor and could handle 4GB of RAM instead of 2GB. If there hadn’t been a virtually identical system available that could handle the extra RAM I would almost certainly still be using my old laptop. I just like it that much.

If I think about it, I could point fingers at all sorts of things. Self-confidence and self-esteem are good candidates. After all, if you don’t have those traits in good doses you’re more likely to judge yourself by what you own instead of who you are. I can think of quite a few other facets of one’s self that can be related to these things.

I intended to spend time today looking at my financial situation going forward, but wound up looking deeper than that. Fortunately, I like what I see.

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