Bankrate: After growing up poor, you began to make money when you got into advertising.
Augusten Burroughs: I got into advertising and suddenly I was making good money, and I didn't have any concept of how to save it or how to be responsible. I declared bankruptcy in my very early 20s because I had so much debt.
Bankrate: How deep in the hole were you?
Augusten Burroughs: In the end, I think I owed $60,000 to American Express alone. The total was probably about $80,000, which is a lot when you're 23 or 24. I was making good money but I was spending far more than I earned. My first apartment in New York was in Battery Park City and my rent was too great a percentage of my monthly paycheck. So I lived on credit cards. When I was given a credit card, I would just max it out. I was panicked about money and I would soothe myself by buying things, to prove to myself that I wasn't homeless, that I wasn't starving. And right before the pay period I would be completely broke.
Don't use credit cards to create a lifestyle
that your paycheck doesn't support.
Walecia Konrad is a freelance reporter who specializes in business and personal finance, and is based in Brooklyn.