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The credit card trap

The clock strikes midnight and there is the end to Christmas 2019! Instantly every media area is full of Summer Sales, End of the Year Sales, the news is filled with that retail is concerned about the pre Christmas sales and not enough spending before so their hope is money will be spent at the sales. Credit card debt and personal debt in Australia is increasing rapidly. Yet when I go to second hand shops and tip shops I see so many incredible items with no wear some with tags still on, in great condition. I recently picked up a bed side light for $10. I needed one, but could not afford to buy any new that I had seen. This was a solid metal durable movable one. I had seen similar new for over $80.

I think I have mentioned previously I do not own a credit card. I learnt the hard way how credit cards can cause financial problems. I had one as I was looking at buying a house. I had previously had a personal loan for a car, and I assumed this would be enough to provide proof of my history for paying back the loan. I was knocked back for a mortgage as there was not a recent credit history!

I struggled to comprehend how this could be since I had no debts. Seemed the banks did not like that.

It was suggested I get a credit card, to establish a credit history. Sigh. So I did. I requested the lowest amount as my limit. $1000 AUD. Well the out come was I kind of got carried away with what I could now buy! I spent more money than I earned and before I knew it my balance was $1000. I paid it off $200 a month as I was paid monthly at that time.

Then Christmas was coming and I wanted to give friends and family great gifts. The balance on my credit card was about $500 at this point so I contacted the bank and requested an increase in the value of my line of credit. They put it up to $5000 it went to my head. Christmas coming and friends saying lets go for a holiday to Queensland. I was in spending heaven.

I listened to things my family and friends said they would like for Christmas and went and bought the dearest thing they mentioned. I want to make them so happy. I said yes to the trip and paid airfare accommodation on the credit card. I felt so excited. It was going to be a brilliant Christmas! I also had the trip to look forward to in mid January. I had no savings, and was just paying the minimum monthly payment on my card. I worked and bought take away food and coffees everyday. I also went out a lot socially dancing and eating out with friends. I was living the life.

Christmas came and my extravagant gifts were appreciated. I felt so good. I was now looking forward to our holiday.

On arriving home, I was so happy. I had had a lovely Christmas. One of my friends rang a night or two later and said lets go grab a meal. I said OK. Nice meal and we laughed and enjoyed being together. The bill came and I put my credit card on the table to pay my share and my friend put cash. The waiter took it away but a short time later came back and said I am sorry but your card has been declined. I was mortified. I walked over to use my debit card. Insufficient funds. Oh my there must be some mistake. My friend fortunately had enough cash to cover my share and I said I would pay her back as soon as possible. Which I did.

I paid a bit of the card to get it back under its limit but in not too long it was up again and I struggled to pay anything than the minimum payment off, I ended up paying a few dollars more to bring it back under the limit. I was still spending on it though.

I went to pay my electricity bill a couple of months later and my credit card was declined again. Not only that they informed me it had to be cut up! I was so embarrassed. As this was a final demand or my power would be cut off if the bill was not paid by that date.

On the way home I checked my bank balance $3.60 woah! (I would not be paid for two more weeks). That was all the money I had in the world! I was over $5000 in debt and my power was going to be cut off. I had some groceries and a bit of a pantry even back then. However if my power went off my fridge would not work nor my fully electric oven or the microwave or washing machine in my rental flat. I was very fortunate at this point in one way that my rent for the month was taken out the day my monthly pay went into my bank account.

I was going to be two weeks before I had any more money. The power went off on Friday afternoon, and I went all weekend with no power. I was so up set and shocked at my situation. I was going to a family dinner on the Saturday night, and realised I was going to have to tell them my situation.

I did and it was bad, I was so upset at myself and embarrassed, and neither parent would lend me any money as they thought is would be better that I really learn the lesson of living on what you earn! I was devastated as I really believed they would rescue me. I left early returning to my dark flat and cried angry tears at them for not helping me.

I ate some really weird food over the next two weeks. I had no social life, as I could not bring a plate, or go out to eat. Or even a coffee. It was work, home hand wash some clothes, work out what I could eat. Let me tell you cereal with water is not very nice. But it filled a empty stomach. I ate cold baked beans, and spaghetti no bread. I ate cold tinned soup mixed with water cold. I was incredibly fortunate I was renting a unit water still operated even with out my power.

When I finally got paid I had to pay a re connection fee and the bill.

The good news with this experience was I have never had a credit card again! I live quite OK with out. I only live on what I have and budgeting and shopping lists and my pantry have been the difference. I pay my bills when they come in. I don’t wait until the due date, as If I have some money in my account after my costs I pay some of it off the bill and when my next payment comes in I pay the rest. I will even pay extra on them.

Why on earth would anyone do that? It gives me some wiggle room. Now I am on a very low income I have to be very aware of when my big bills are due. My home and content insurance and my rates. I am very fortunate that my council has quarterly payments, as this year for the first time I am paying the quarterly but even then I pay more if I have it.

When my insurance is due, I usually do a few weeks of spending very little if I have not been able to budget enough fortnightly to save for it.

The most interesting thing is I don’t really recall the holiday I took, or what I purchased, the place I ate out or clothes I bought. I had fun and the friends I was so generous with are not in my life anymore. The regret I have is how much I spent and that I thought I could buy friendship. I regret extending the credit card beyond my financial income and needs. I still would have been able to go away on the holiday.

Did the credit card help me get a mortgage it must have because when I re applied for a mortgage I got it. What having a credit card did for me was to put me in a situation I never wanted to be in again.

I was really hurt and angry when no one in my family would rescue me. As it is this episode of tough love was the best thing they could have done for me in the long term. It changed my mentality.

I may live on a tight budget and am frugal. I still can afford to meet up for a coffee at a cafe (as I don’t let anyone into my home that is another post). I look at what I have. I am not against anybody going to the sales if they need something.

The things I am really thankful for are that I own my home out right, that I have no debt. If I was not in this situation when I had my breakdown and was so ill mentally I have no idea what would have happened to me. Even being in this situation I did have thoughts of suicide. I can not imagine what might have been if I in such a secure environment had these thoughts, how much harder it would be if I was paying a mortgage, or renting. I would have lost my home, not been able to afford to rent. I may be homeless living in my car not working. I know this is a situation for many people. I know I am so rich and fortunate. I have a good roof over my head. I have clean water to drink, I am content.

I don’t have children. So again this does make it easier in so many ways for me. I still believe that if you have a mortgage you need to be paying this off first and foremost. If you become ill or loose your job, how will you pay for it? Perhaps you have income insurance, great ..

I have spoken to a someone I know recently as we were talking about finances and she asked me how I could live with out a credit card. I said pretty easily really. Firstly even if you do pay you full amount off every month you still have to pay an annual fee for the privileged of having a credit card. She is also paying a mortgage. We chatted about how much a month she spends on her credit card it was a lot to me. She is on a good income. I asked her did she need what she spent on her credit card, or was it she wanted the things. She looked at me. I looked at her and said that is how I began to realise how to pay off my debts.

If you need something that is fine. If you want it, why do you want it. Look at how much you could save if you added that to your credit card debts/mortgage. (This is another post in the near future)
I said to her CUT UP YOUR CREDIT CARD! You can learn to live without it. Using cash brings you back in touch with the value of money. You take it out of your bank account…you have to hand the money to pay for the things you need or want. You begin to see where YOUR money is really going.

I am fortunate as on a benefit I have a bank account that I do not have any charges on. (Thank You Bendigo Bank, I get nothing for saying this). I pay cash for nearly everything.

Perhaps it is living in a rural town community, that makes a difference. If I don’t quite have the money to pay for the groceries on the day, and I hardly ever do this, but my local independent grocery store will let me pay it when I can, usually for me it is the next day. I also use local tyre company and they will let me pay off tyres (set of 4) I am also able to get an interest free loan up to $1000 through a government scheme. So there is a support there if I needed it. I have filled up my car and gone to pay, and not realised that my automatic payment for my internet was taken out leaving me less money(i know my dates now) and fortunately the guys at the petrol station no me, and I could pay them next week. I do not make a habit of not having enough money. I now check my balances and make sure that I have enough petrol to get me to my next payment date. though life can cause things to happen where petrol is required to be used that I have not budgeted for.

I do not have savings per say because extra money is usually earmarked for a bill in the future.

Perhaps the most important thing for me with my Complex PTSD is that I keep my stress as far as possible to a minimum. Being debt free has helped immensely with that. Learning to be content being at home has also been a saving bonus and a joyful thing. Part of my managing the many issues that my illness can cause me is minimising things that I may get anxious about. Distressed about, so knowing where my money has to go is the first step in my planning for the next 12 months. Anything that I can put in place to help me manage helps me to live in more contentment. Not having debts. Huge HUGE


Its a dogs life

My dogs are my constant companions. I can honestly say in my early days post my breakdown, if not for my dogs I would not be here. It was very different to after my partner died, I wanted to just dig a hole and lie in the ground to be close to him. Weird thing was he was cremated. At that time it was just about feeling close.

My dogs on the other hand needed me. They loved me unconditionally and comforted and kept me going. So I ensure that my god’s (dog backwards) are loved and have a good life.

Sometimes people I know will say they would like to me one my dogs.

We have not been away from the house for a week I have been pottering in the garden always find it is so phenomenal to plant a tiny seed and gain so much reward.

Busby was limping, and I have not been taking them for a run, instead just walks on leads. No playing with his dog neighbours either.

I think we were all feeling a wee bit excited to be out and about. Even if most importantly it was for groceries. It was warm and I took the dogs for a walk at Huonville, along the river front. Huonville is right on the banks of the Huon River.

A paddle in the water to cool the paws.  A long drink of water.  Neither were keen to go for a swim.  Partially as there were boat and the boat wash was a bit nerve racking.

Moving out of the water to watching the life of the river, well Busby is Miss Treacle is um I’m not sure what she is doing

Busby was watching the ducks swim by, and at the end a duck with two young ducklings came by. terrible photo but you can make them out.

We than went to Cygnet which is getting dolled up for the annual Cygnet Folk Festival next weekend. These beautiful crochet mandalas are stunning the wind was moving them to much to show them properly. A group of people crochet and Knit and decorate light posts, sign posts, the park, and shops with their great work. It creates quite a lot of interest and photo opportunities.

What a great morning out. The dogs enjoyed meeting up with other dogs and people on both the walks. Plus a paddle life is good.


Australian Fires.

As the eastern areas of NSW and Victoria burn and the death toll sadly rises, and homes destroyed my heart aches for all the communities impacted. These extraordinary weather conditions the heat that our Government continues to deny is in any way related to Climate Change. This Saturday the weather forecast is equally if not worse than New Years Eve.

Here in my little valley Huon Valley in Tasmania we were in on going fires from before Christmas through to May, and we know that many local business reliant on summer visitors are still recovering. So I cannot imagine how long and the trauma that these communities will be dealing with and the length of time it will take.

I am not including any photographs on this post as Australian Fires season has been going since September. I find it so unbelievable that fire fighters the majority in rural communities volunteers who give up so much to defend out primary infrastructure, and communities. Often loosing their own homes and sadly I believe 7 fire fighters have died while fighting. Because they believe in the communities they live in. Reports are saying 5Million hectares/12,355,269.07acres have burnt.

In a total fire ban, where people where fleeing their homes and other died defending them or on their way to safety, both state capitals Sydney and Melbourne went ahead with New Years Eve Fire works, and from what I have

Stephanie Bed

Some times this is what its like, inside of my body and head.

The Avalanches Frontier Psychiatrist. post Gone potty taken off this wonderful blog.

I think back to the way I feel when I am in the middle of a response to a trigger with my CPTSD. I am improving with being able to identify some situations that will potentially cause me to respond in an adverse way.

I had to contact my internet provider.

In the not so distant past just the process of identifying myself to them would trigger a negative response. Anger! FRustration!

I now know why I respond in the manner I did. You ring and you finally speak to a human voice. I give the person my customer number. I then tell them my full name, date of birth, address.

All good, sigh.

Then he asks what is your invoice number??? Can you feel it building ..the anger

I am just ringing up to find out why my internet is not working.

I loose it,( not as badly as in the past, and I don’t believe I said fu..k and interesting it seems to happen more with male employees at my internet provider. I asked him could I speak to a female, it took him forever, I was beginning to loose my ability to not allow myself to go where my emotion was taking me. So I hung up. I felt that was better than the alternative, so I feel a positive management.

I called back and yeah a female! Here we go name address birth date and customer number. BIg sigh. no more id.

So helpful even her manner was accommodating. So I had pulled every thing out, waited plugged everything in (I had done this before I rang) but I did it again. Still no internet ..she was perplexed so asked if she call me back in about 20minutes. Of course no problem.

I go to push the things I had moved back and look down behind and see a computer sort of cable. Oh no. I picked it up plugged it in. Pressed connect internet. Can You guess it worked. The lovely lady rang me back, I immediately explain and apologise for not noticing it. So my fault nothing was working! Very helpful woman, and my head and body no longer feel like the song.


Summer is here, and the living is

It really feels like summer has arrived here in my beautiful island home. It has taken a bit of time, but I was eating some raspberries and a peach(not my own as yet they are not quite ripe) The juice of the peach running down my arm delicious. I get them from a local orchard when mine are not ready. The raspberries were raspberryie , I am sort of feeling I am not so keen on them these days. I leave my self open to change my mind.

I needed to get a few things milk and bread, the chicken necks I ordered for my dogs, and felt like visiting one of my favourite cafes. Great out door area and well priced large selection of food, and super coffee. Super dog friendly. Here in the valley where I live most cafes are dog friendly. It is such a delightful way to meet people if you are a dog lover. It is a place that is for me somewhere I can go be social and have a laugh with the wonderful staff, and meet up with some other dog owners, and have some terrific chats, and laughter. I did the shopping taking the dogs for a walk after and then sat for an hour had something to eat and a coffee. The dogs had lots of pats and water.

Since my breakdown five years ago, my mental illness has thrown some challenges at me. Things I never had problems with before. I love meeting people in small groups, and really prefer one or two people to talk with. I have been to functions and , and no one will know I am struggling and worrying about all sorts of things. I have learned to be accept this new part of me. I am very selective of where I go, and I really hate leaving my dogs. I do, and we all survive, and I usually have a pleasant time, yet am so exhausted after it. It is even stranger as I can come across as the life of the gathering. It is part act and pushing myself to not isolate myself totally. Though I would like to live up a hill at the end of the road, with just nature about me. My dogs and just venture down every now and then. I have wonderful neighbours, here. It is just more and more orchards have gone and farms being subdivided and people moving in have lots more money than most of the long time residents in the area.

oOps that was a side track down a pathway I did not expect! So the summer arrived, the shopping was done, dogs were hot and the day was awesome! Easy decision the off lead walk it was popular and my guys had a ball, as You can see by all the dogs, and people. No problems just dogs having a lot of fun.

It was a lot of fun watching all the antics of this well socialised group of dogs. On the other side a family with two wee ones were paddling and loving splashing in the river. You can see kayaks in the distance. The boat tied up to the wharf sigh…

This person was so rude, he pulled into the wharf diesel engine going fair enough has to moor. Time passes people are coughing because of the diesel fumes, the family with the little ones begins to get them out and dried off. five minutes and still the vessel is not moored? Me being me, and hating the fumes (as everyone else was.) yells out to be heard over the engine, could he turn the engine off. Basically it was a no..I explained there were little kids our dogs and us, and the fumes were really bad. 10minutes and still this person has not managed to tie his boat to the wharf. Everyone had left but me and my dogs.

I know I have been triggered when I open my mouth and say hmmm moron must stand for someone who can’t moor their boat. I add how incompetent and rude he is for spreading the fumes for so long! I cant stop myself, I am angry at how little concern he had for the kids, the dogs and us. (I stayed because my dog was swimming enjoying himself.)

Not surprisingly the situation deteriorated his i presume wife of partner and son, are just keeping their heads down. he is getting in their way as he throws what he sees as insults, I must be a lonely old spinster with no kids, and just all alone no friends, because he knows all about me, he just knows. So I just smile and say well you know nothing about tying up a boat, its still not tied and the motor is still going! I had seen them leave their mooring about 1km car distance up the river. I hear him say that his engine has a problem It looks to me like this guy uses his boat maybe once a year over the Christmas new year break, Me in full trigger response (not angry) but just in baiting him verbally in a pleasant tone every time he responds , Gee what kind of person has his most prized people on a boat that he has not had serviced or checked before taking it out? you get the way it went. Not proud of myself it was juvenile he was baiting right back, much to his wife’s annoyance. They ended up mooring the boat finally and engines off. Perhaps the diesel fumes had contributed to my behaviour. His wife and son leave in a vehicle.

He at one point said you must be mental , and my response yes I do have a mental illness. That stopped him and this lovely person says, well than just jump in the river and drown yourself save the world from you. (did not bother me as I am not well enough but to say that to anyone let alone someone who has just told you they do have a mental illness is wrong .)

If he had stopped then and just left it I am sure I would have too. But no he now rings the police, I have been sitting watching my dog try and catch little fish in the water, my little dog next to me (she was trying to get me to stop she leans into me and looks at me trying to get eye contact, but when I am triggered its no good. too late.

So this guy comes off his boat walks down the wharf and past where we are sitting, my large dog is next to me, at this point too. This large tall man, is saying in loudly that he is being verbally assaulted, (well I have to own that I was badgering him so that is sort of factual). I accept responsibility for that and will take what comes. However he then goes on to say I have a huge Pitbull! (now I know all pitbulls are not bad but that is what he is indicating) mY dog is not a pitbull. He is big. ) that this dog is terrorising him and he is really frightened of what it is going to do? Seriously! He sounds like he is about to break into sobs, (my dog has not been near him until he walked past us!) He ends the call, looks directly at me with a huge smile on his face and says something along the lines of got you! I know I have a mental illness but this person is just nasty! I now have to stay and wait for the police as this person has taken my number plate and come back down the wharf as I am upset by what he said, and told him what a despicable person he is, I am still sitting down, he is videoing me on his phone, and I am just saying that I hope he is getting some lovely shots as it is such a lovely day, and he is mouthing stuff at me he than pushes the phone right almost into my face. WTF, I swipe it away. He nearly dropped it! If looks could kill! He walks off and says why dont you just f k off! I ignore him. I just sit with my dogs swinging my legs singing silly songs about his incompetence not super loudly .. (hindsight is brilliant he could have beaten the shit out of me) . He is now emptying what looks like filthy oil into containers and again walks up and down the wharf past my dog that is terrifying him! He does that twice. He then sees the police coming.

Two officers, one speaks to me the other to him. I tell him yes the fumes pissed me off, especially because there were wee kids in the water and he did not care. That he was incompetent at mooring and I told him so, yes probably not the best thing to do I know officer. I then explained about my PTSD and the fumes seemed to have triggered me. both my dogs had said hello to the officer. I also told him about me saying I did have a mental illness (this scum said you must be mental) and then he told me that I should drown myself. The other officer and the piece of human scum he was talking to were off the wharf. They finished and both came over, this piece of human scum now sort of acted really scared of my dog and sidled along the far edge of the wharf? (so glad I had videoed everything after he called the police.)

The other officer says do I have collars and leads for my dogs, I replied yes officer but this is a designated off lead area and my dogs are under my control which is what the law requires. He than said that this ‘man’ had shown him a ripped part of his jeans, and that had marks under it and told him that my dog had bitten him!! YOU have to be kidding! What kind of scum does this, lies to a police officer. I obviously looked stunned. I could feel my mind going in a direction and battled not to dissociate. I said my dog is a gentle sook, he is big, but the only time he went anywhere near this ‘man’ was once he walked up along the wharf on the opposite where the boat was, the man was in side doing something. The only other times were when he was carrying his oil off he walked by us four times and when you told him to go with you.

I tired to say I had photos showing that my dog had been around other people and dogs before this all happened. The police officer said well he told me your dog bit him and his jeans are torn. So I am really starting to feel weird I begin breathing deeply and the officer that talked to me, said tell this officer what you told me. I must have looked like I was going to be ill of faint, I could not have told him anything if he had offered me a million dollars. The other officer told him about my complex PTSD and that I was triggered by the fumes, and the fact that little kids were in the water being covered in them and breathing them. That this ‘man’ did not care! that upset me.

I said if I could have stopped myself I would have, I was not proud of my role in it. BUT My dog never got close enough to him except when he was walking by with the oil containers. I also said I would have accepted if I had been charged with something for my part seemed fair under the circumstance. BUt to say my dog bit him! I showed the photos and the video, the photos helped but he said that it did not show the hole episode. I was so up set that not only did he lie but he bought my dog into it and if charges were laid he would be declared a dangerous dog! I also told the officer, if this man had dog bit on his leg it would be interesting, as my boy has a huge over bite. I showed him. Now during all of this my dog is off lead still walking around the police and me down to the water and back. My little one was I think near me but I had sort of lost focus on her sigh. No charges I feel that they may having seen the photos and spent time with my dog seen that he was not in anyway threatening or aggressive. I was wanting to stay, (my heightened response from the attack of my dog by him) the nicer of the two police spoke with me and I realised leaving was better for me and my dogs.

Underneath I was so bewildered that someone would do that. I did mention that he had videod me up close and my rego response was it is a public place. I was resigned to that. I did ask the officer who was going to speak to the peice of scum if he was lying about being bitten by my dog. the stuff on his phone was deleted. but he still said my dog bit him.

I fixated on it, (another part of my illness) and since it was not illegal to take photos or videos in public, I decided to post this piece of scums photos on all the local face book community pages. Explaining in full and as factually what the police had asked me and told me and the episode of verbal baiting, I wanted other people to know that he lied about my dog, and if he decided he did not like you he could do it again. I can only imagine if he made the ‘bite look worse’ and I had been charged, with assault by my dog. I knew all the trolls and people who like to just attack would be out in force. But it did get his face out there and people who understand and see what I am most distressed about that he told someone with a mental illness to kill themselves and that IS NOT OK, and he lied about my dog. I am so thankful I had been taking photos. I

several hours after I posted to face book, I get a call from the police. This piece of scum told them about the posts all over facebook, and wanted them to get me to take them down. that the piece of scum had deleted my photos. I said I appreciated that they were trying to mediate, and for me the fact he told a person who had told him they had a mental illness to kill themselves, and he told the police my dog bit him, which is a lie made him a danger to other owners of dogs and to people with a mental illness. The police officer said perhaps not the best way to handle the situation, and I said what other redress do I have ? He is a liar who tears their own jeans and lies to the police. Some one much more ill than I am. He knows it has been out there in the community his face. He also knows the truth.

I will always say it is not OK to tell someone to kill themselves! Anyone who does is scum. The fact this scum could not get at me any other way than by attempting to have my dog labelled dangerous shows him for who he really is!

I want to end this post saying I am moving through this episode, it has left a feeling of nausea in my stomach, but it will pass. I am so glad I am in a position I am able to understand why I do what I do, when I am triggered. It is almost impossible to explain that the very thing you are doing is part of a mental illness and if you could stop it you would. The episode has shown me for the first time a smell can trigger me. I should not be surprised. I am happy that I am able to see what my response is and I will continue sharing my story as I am not ashamed of having a mental illness. I work everyday at ways to move through and not overwhelmed and reactionary. I move forward ever forward. Small steps, tiny steps. I feel that one of the real turning points for me was learning that my reactions, my dissociation, blank periods throughout my life, all have empowered me to live! I am alive and happy to wake up each day. Even knowing that some end up like today. I own my feelings, my behaviour, I say I have a mental illness. I am actually weirdly glad I had my breakdown. I am more the real me today, than I was yesterday. Not trying to fit in, to be as others expected, think I should. I am OK this is just a small lesson. I am not fixating, (um at least I have stopped posting his photo everywhere on Facebook. I have not posted it here. I am not responding to the trolls on my posts, or anyone. I have said what I wanted, it impacted this scum enough to call the police. Tomorrow is another day. A glorious hot day, I am thankful that I can keep coolish, that I am still moving forward, thankful for my dogs.


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