Bad Money Choices: Getting a Roommate

(image via allexperts)

Today’s topic is on a Bad Money Choice I made that almost all personal finance bloggers will tell you is a great idea.  After living alone for several years, I got a roommate.

The reason this ended up being a poor decision is because the roommate and I had very different values and while she ended up saving money (I think), my expenses increased…. so how did that happen?

Since we both had dogs, we decided we wanted to move into a house with a yard.  Since houses don’t come cheap like one bedroom apartments, obviously it made sense to move in together.  We found a wonderful 1930s house that was approximately a 10 minute drive from our workplace.  We thought we could overlook the fact that it only had one bathroom.  Second mistake.  The first was that it was a 1930s house.

After moving in, I suddenly started paying for cable (I watched for maybe one or two months), my water bill increased by $20-50 a month overall (so $10-25 extra per month) and electricity skyrocketed to between $100 winter – $200 summer per month. Considering my electricity had never been higher than $60 on a particularly bad summer month before, this was a hit.  Even in the winter, I was spending $20 more on my half of the bill than I did on my highest month alone.

So let’s add it up:
– Rent – no change
– Cable + $20/month
– Internet – no change
– Water +$15/month
– Electricity +  $90/month*

Grand total per month = $125/mo extra spend or $1,500/year.
*based off of $60/mo previously and $150/month in house

I could have paid of my credit cards a month earlier if I’d just continued to live by myself in an apartment.  She wasn’t a bad roommate and aside from the usual annoying stuff that happens with roommates, the fact that I was spending more money (instead of saving) just added insult to injury and made the situation worse for me.  Well, that and my totaled car, but that’s a different story.

Lesson: If you’re going to get a roommate, make sure you’re on the same page.

Bad Money Choices: Credit Cards

I really like the idea of sharing all of my poor choices, so I feel like at least attempting a semi-regular series…  I don’t know that it’s possible to find yourself $18k in debt (with 60% of that consumer debt) without making some bad money choices along the way.

Today’s Bad Money Choices topic is a classic.  The ultimate heavyweight in “Reasons I got into Debt”:  Credit cards!

Squeeee credit cards! No, that’s not my pile. I chopped up most of my pile.

Why are the cards a poor decision?  Well, there’s the usual reasons like spending money I don’t actually have, astronomical rates of interest on the money you don’t have, etc, etc.  But for me, they promoted the purchases of a LOT of Stuff that I didn’t need.  Stuff that I bought to fill voids in my life that I either couldn’t (or wouldn’t) fill otherwise.  Stuff I bought to fit in with people I thought I wanted to fit in with.

The funny thing is that even though my cards aren’t completely paid off (as of writing), I feel that I am able to use them responsibly now.  I only use the cards for large purchases that have funds in the bank to cover.  This just gives me the extra day or two to actually get the money (since I keep the funds in a targeted savings account that I don’t have immediate access to).  Lately this has been put into play for the slew of plane tickets I’ve purchased.  But aside from that, credit cards are a huge no-no to me. If I can’t afford it with the cash I have earmarked for the purpose, then I can’t have it. Simple.

Lesson: Don’t spend money you don’t have.