update: I racked up $20,000 in personal charges on my company credit card

Remember the letter-writer last year who had racked up $20,000 in personal charges on his company credit card and was in a horrible cycle of using the card to take Paypal cash advances to pay it off each month, thus moving it to the next month, along with interest charges? He updated once a few months later, and here’s the latest update.

Hi all, just thought I’d give you an update a year later…

I have repaid Amex in full and with the habit of saving firmly established, I have a little bit of a saftey net in place so things will not likley get that bad EVER again..

I got a promotion in my job later on in the year and that came with a pay raise, so I was actually able to get it taken care of in nine months instead of 12. Life’s all good and I am very thankful for all the opinions here. Some of the info was very valuable in my approach. Things could have taken a VERY different path.

{ 75 comments… read them below }

  1. Jillociraptor*

    Wow! Congratulations, OP! Paying down $20,000 in debt is a huge undertaking and I’m so thrilled to hear that you are back above water.

  2. Punkin*

    I am so happy for this person. It shows that good things can happen if you own your mistakes & are humble in trying to atone for them.

  3. North Dakota Jones*

    I think it really says something about the quality of your work, that you manager not only went to bat for you (in the last update), but that that you also received a promotion and a pay raise, despite all of this. Someone at that company definitely thinks that you’re a keeper.

    (also, yay for savings and safety nets)

  4. Indy the cat (@indykitty)*

    this was the update I have been waiting for. I am so glad it turned out the way it did.

  5. Kora*

    Oh, wow, that’s really good to hear. Congratulations for turning something that awful and overwhelming around. And what a great, understanding company you must work for, that they gave you the opportunity to do it.


    Congrats OP! I have to say, I was crazy impressed that you came clean in the first place instead of trying to handle it until it was gone / you were caught. It takes courage to own up to a major mistake.

    I am so glad you got things paid off and that the company doesn’t hold it against you. All the best moving forward!

    1. Andy*

      Totally agree with this. Sometimes the scariest thing is the thing you did yourself through apathy and/or inertia.
      You’re so brave!

  7. Susanna*

    This is an absolutely fantastic outcome on the story; shows that the company truly values OP’s input, especially with the promotion! OP, congrats on facing your “demons, getting this sorted AND learning how to save in the process!

  8. Kobayashi*

    Your story is really the shining ray of good news I needed to close out this year. You’ve reaffirmed my faith in people being able to make mistakes, own up to them, and do the right thing — even if it may be to their own detriment…and a huge bonus for me that this actually worked out so very well for you.

    1. TootsNYC*


      Such a powerful story of self-redemption.

      And a lesson to the world to leave room for people to redeem themselves, instead of going so rapidly to denunciation and condemnation.

  9. Jenn*

    Everything about your story – your courage in coming to ask, in coming forward at your work, your boss’s and work’s compassionate response, your commitment to repaying the debt, the wise advice here, and this update really add to my faith in the world. Thank you for all of that.

    1. Bonky*

      Me too – this was one of the stories from this year that really gave me a there-but-for-the-grace-of-god shudder. I’m one of the most financially responsible people I know – NOW – but I can absolutely imagine having got myself into a similar position when I was about fifteen years younger and totally, totally daft about how personal finance worked.

      Well done, OP. Well done, well done, well done. This was a wonderful update, and I’m so glad you’re in such a good place. Savings, incidentally, are just the best thing. You can’t put a sum on the amount of worry and lost sleep they negate.

  10. Althea*

    Woooow. I was thinking this company must be amaaaazing. Maybe in addition to the “worst boss” running, we should have a “top stand-up companies that did the right thing” running. Like the OP whose horse died and how the company handled that after the big bosses heard of it. And the spicy lunch stealer.

    1. KG, Ph.D.*

      Agreed. Going back to the first update, I’m blown away by how the company was concerned about actually finding a workable solution to the problem, not just about getting their money back. They specifically didn’t want the LW to feel strapped for cash while paying back the debt, which is so important and I imagine contributed to his success. That was incredibly smart and compassionate of them.

      LW, good on you for coming clean and paying it off so quickly. That’s a really tough thing to do!

      1. Annie Moose*

        Yes, what a fantastic company. Let’s be honest, this is the best possible outcome for everybody. The LW was able to pay off that terrible debt (and not suffer the stress of those constant Paypal fees + ongoing guilt) without being made penniless, and the company got to avoid having to hire/train a new employee while still getting their money back.

        I can’t believe how brave LW was to come clean about this in the first place, that must have been SO difficult! And it’s awesome that the company recognized that bravery and took it in good faith, as opposed to just firing LW or forcing them onto an impossible repayment plan.

  11. KatieKatie*

    I was literally just rereading this! (as in… 30 seconds before it was posted and I was confused because I thought I had click on the homepage.)

    OP, This is so amazing to here. Congrats!!!

  12. Tuckerman*

    This is great! Sounds like you’ve got it all under control, but it may still be helpful to meet with a financial planner to come up with a solid savings plan, now that you have more disposable income. (I find sometimes it’s easier to be frugal when I have no wiggle room in my budget than when I have some extra money at the end of each pay period).

    1. Red*

      I definitely agree with that advice! Alternatively, if that feels out of reach, try You Need A Budget. It’s done wonders for me in terms of figuring out what I wanted my money to do and helping out do that. And there’s a free trial!

  13. Zona the Great*

    I feel like updates like this help solidify that many firm policies could end up punishing folks more than necessary. A company whose policies say something regarding immediate dismissal could end up losing a person like the OP who is clearly a winner. OP is also now in a position where he can recognize vulnerabilities within work systems.

    1. sstabeler*

      That’s why most policies I’ve seen ALLOW immediate dismissal for certain offenses, but don’t REQUIRE it- sort of like in the Articles of War which dictated what a member of the Royal Navy could be prosecuted for in the Age of Sail, most crimes that carried the death penalty said “shall suffer death or other such lesser punishment…” not “shall suffer death”- the additional wording allowed Captains discretion to avoid executing someone who could be redeemed.

  14. CM*

    Honestly, I was not expecting that this situation could possibly have a positive outcome. I can only imagine the relief that the OP must feel.

  15. Bigglesworth*

    Congratulations, OP!!! Paying off that much debt in 9 months is a huge accomplishment and getting a raise/promotion as well is just the icing on the cake. Keep up the good work!

  16. mooocow*

    Wow, OP, I’m so glad you were able to get out of that situation! I am very impressed at both your courage owning up to this mistake, and your determination and discipline in paying back the money. Thanks for sending the update!

  17. Emmie*

    Congratulations, OP! You’ve done wonderful work here, and I wish you the best. Our mistakes are truly our best and hardest teachers. I wish you continued success.

  18. Batshua*

    Nothing brilliant to say, just wanted to add my joyful hurray! WAY TO GO, OP!
    You’re super awesome!

  19. Cassandra*

    Wow, OP. I admire what you’ve accomplished here! Congrats on the promotion, the payoff, and the savings, and for being a stand-up human being.

  20. Venus Supreme*

    I was SO stressed out reading the first letter. Just breathed a sigh of relief. Congrats OP!!

  21. Susan the BA*

    Hooray! That’s an awesome accomplishment, OP, and I’m so thankful you shared your story with all of us.

  22. AMT*

    The upside here is that you’ve learned to live the lifestyle of someone paying off a huge debt. Now that you’re free of it, you’re a frugal spender rolling in extra cash!

  23. Golden Lioness*

    Great Update! Thanks for sending a follow up OP. Seems like you’re doing great. Now that you finished paying the CC debt you’t be able to save even more. Congrats!!!

  24. Not So NewReader*

    OP, you and your employer are well matched, you are both very impressive. I think both of you acted like “the bigger person” here. We don’t see this very often where both parties handle their roles in an adult-like and pro-active manner.
    I gotta say I am in awe that you were able to pay it off in 9 months and start a savings. I hope your story inspires other people in many ways.

    Congrats, OP. You have guts, smarts and determination. I wish you many more successes.

  25. caligirl*

    OP – this is fantastic! I have thought of you several times and am soooo pleased for you. You made my day!!

  26. jcsgo*

    Wow. I’m super impressed OP could pay that much debt off so fast! But then I realized I have no clue what percentage of OP’s annual income $20,000 is. That’d be a third of my household’s gross annual income! It’d be pretty much impossible for us to repay that much so fast, and I guess I read the original letter in that light (from my own perspective). It seemed much less likely to be possible to repay that much in any reasonable amount of time. Guess it all depends on the financial situation of the person!

    1. OP*

      I am ( now, after the promotion ) on 60k .. Previously it was 55k per year, so while not easy with two kids, rent and car payments .. I was soooo Relived not to be jobless, I just made it work, … And I discovered that beans are marvellous !!
      as a side effect of this, I must tell you guys. I learned to cook at home a LOT … This was such an amazing journey, not only cheaper, HEATHIER, but damn tasty….
      In terms of stress management … I was seriously in trouble this time two years ago .. I turned to exercise as a stress management relief source … I have dropped 20 kg, with only changing diet and starting a running routine each week .. I know I messed up bad, but to be honest I ma a better ( less depressed, more active, more thoughtful, and happier person now .. looking back it was a serious kick in the butt and I made use of it to get on a better life path … I am so glad to hear everybody cheering me on along the path, this website ( and the community here) . were literally my backbone during a turning point .. the advice I took away and what I did with it has truly made me a better human .. I can not express the gratitude ever enough … Thanks to you all

  27. Be the Change*

    Sooooo glad to hear this! Congratulations and rock on! Thanks so much for coming back and sharing. Happy Merry Everything!

  28. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Congratulations, OP!! This is such a very hopeful and joyful thing for me to hear while I’m working on getting out of my own credit card hell :) I am so happy for you, and so glad that Alison and the commentariat here were able to give good advice.

  29. spocklady*

    Oh my gosh OP that’s wonderful! This is a huge huge deal; you’ve done a ton of hard work and I’m so happy and excited for you! Best of continuing luck, and thanks for coming back to let us know :)

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