I’m Trying To Recover From Poor Credit—And It’s Harder Than I Thought

I’m Trying To Recover From Poor Credit—And It’s Harder Than I Thought

About this series: Welcome to Scrimp City—an anonymous, week-in-the-life chronicle that provides a look at women who are trying to be smarter about money, whether that means saving more, spending strategically, or just being more comfortable managing their hard-earned cash.

In each installment, we follow one woman’s progress toward a money goal or challenge they’ve set for themselves. We learn about their typical spending/saving habits and see if, after their self-imposed money challenge, they come away feeling just a *little* more financially-savvy.

Meet Our Saver

Quick Bio:

Job title:Wedding Catering Manager


Location:Brentwood, MD (basically DC)

Monthly salary (after taxes):$2,009

Monthly rent:$650

Housing arrangements:Split a one-bedroom apartment with my boyfriend.

Total monthly fixed expenses:~$450

Total debt:$14k credit card debt

How I got here and why I’m trying to save

How to sum up me + money:

I grew up hand-to-mouth, although my parents really tried their best, and I’m still living that way—money gets spent as fast as I earn it. Long story short, a family member of mine took out a line of credit under my name when they were in a desperate situation, leaving my credit totally shot. It really upset me when I found out when I was like 19 or 20, but I know they were just trying to survive. I’ve paid off a good amount of it, but it also meant that I couldn’t get a private education loan and ultimately didn’t end up going to college. I love my current job and I feel like things worked out how they’re supposed to, but the debt really does affect how I live my life, which kind of sucks.

How I’ve handled my finances in the past:

As soon as I deposit a check, it feels like it’s gone—mostly because of bills, but also when it comes to buying things for myself because I tell myself that I won’t have money for it in the future and need to just spend now. Which means I have very, very little savings.

My money goals:

To pay off the rest of my debt before I turn 30.

My go-to budgeting tools:

My bank app.

How I’m challenging myself this week:

How much I *usually* spend: $200/week


My *new* weekly spending: $100/week

Day 1, Monday:

I work as the manager of a wedding catering company, which I really love. It allows me to be creative, work alongside really talented cooks, and help people create their dream wedding experience. Today, I’m sitting down with a couple and helping them plan their ideal menu. They have basically no budget, which is always fun for me! We decide on a fully Japanese fusion 6-course meal, a cake made of donuts, and taco towards the end of the reception. It’s going to be so good!

Speaking of food, for lunch I usually go home since I don’t really have an office. The company has an HQ but I mostly work from home, meeting with clients, or am on-site. I make myself a quick salad and head back out for the day. I have to stop for gas (-$21), I didn’t realize my tank was so low!

Spent: $21

Day 2, Tuesday:

I set up shop at a coffee shop today go get some administrative stuff done. My boyfriend is a freelance graphic designer, so I join him at his usual spot. He’s sweet and buys my coffee, knowing I’m trying to cut way back on spending. Later on, I use a gift card I got from one of my clients for Christmas to order us Italian food from this fancy spot in the neighborhood. Spent nothing today—yay!

Spent: $0

Day 3, Wednesday:

Bridezillas are a very real thing. One of my clients is the BIGGEST micro-manager–I get she wants everything to be perfect, but I’ve been doing this job for a while, lady. I do a taste-testing with her and her mother, and nothing is “quite right.” A total fail, so we reschedule round two for next week. I stop by CVS and stress purchase some chips (-$2.94) and a lip gloss (-$7.31). Better than buying a pack of cigarettes, which I quit a few months ago!

Spent: $10.25

Day 4, Thursday:

My boyfriend and I have been trying to work out more, so before work (after slacking all week!) we go to a strength-training class at our gym (-$18). It’s pretty pricey, but we only go once in a while, and the rest of the time we either go for runs outside together or there’s a community yoga class nearby that’s donation-based.

Neither of us have meetings until the afternoon, so we have a late start to the day. After our class, we go back home and he cooks us eggs and avocado toast, while I make us protein shakes. I’m having some car trouble, so I take an Uber to meet with a potential client (-$13). Her and her wife-to-be came with a game plan for their ideal menu, which I love! Working collaboratively is fun, but it’s always great when the couple has a vision.

Spent: $31

Day 5, Friday:

I’ve taken a long weekend, since both of my appointments today cancelled at the start of the week. I’m on salary and have unlimited paid vacation, so it doesn’t affect how much I bring home. I’m really stressed about my debt today, it really sunk in as I was scrolling through Insta and saw a bunch of my friends on a vacation in Mexico together that I couldn’t really afford to go on. It bums me out that I’m missing out on life experiences like that because of my remaining debt. I want to be financially responsible, but I also want to have fun!

My boyfriend tries to make me feel better and plans a date night for us. We go to the movies to see Little Women, which I’ve been wanting to see and he absolutely has NOT. But he sucks its up anyway! Then we go to a really yummy Thai place, and since he paid for the movie tickets I insist on at least splitting the bill, which he reluctantly agrees to (-$20.21).

Spent: $20.21

Day 6, Saturday:

Another zero-spend day! It’s so cold out, we spend the entire day indoors watching Netflix and eating junk food. I don’t mind it one bit!

Spent: $0

Day 7, Sunday:

Our friends are having an engagement brunch today, so we Uber to the restaurant (-$11) at around noon. It’s such a fun and festive gathering! I ordered some really delicious shakshouka and have a few mimosas, which were kindly covered by our friends’ parents. We went around telling embarrassing stories about each of them, which was really hilarious. My boyfriend and I leave and talk about when we might get engaged. We decide we want to wait until we’re at least both feeling more financially stable.

Spent: $11

How much I spent by end of week:

Total Spent: $93.46

Final thoughts:

Wow, just under my goal! It wasn’t actually that hard to stick to it. I could definitely do with taking less Ubers and eating at home more often, though!

—As told to Sara Tardiff