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The 10 Things We did to Erase Almost $9,000 in Credit Card Debt in Less Than 6 Months

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Darren Rowse at problogger.net is having a group writing project and wants submissions in list form. I was trying to think of what I can write about and then it hit me – I don’t have a post yet that lists everything that we are doing to make a dent in our debt.

So, how did we go from over $37,614 in credit card debt to $28,623 in less than 6 months on an income of $45,000/year?

1.) Number one thing – change the attitude! Things didn’t start happening for us until we started thinking positive and started believing that we could make this happen. A positive attitude leads to positive results. Whenever I start feeling blue, I try to remember to repeat that phrase to myself.

2.) We removed all credit cards out of our wallets and put them somewhere safe in our home but also a spot where they are not easy to get to. Some suggestions I’ve heard of are to freeze them inside a water-filled container or lock them in a safe.

3.) We track where our money is going. I use Quicken to track everything and we rarely use cash. Not having cash makes it easier to track things. (If you don’t have Quicken, you can do this using a pencil and paper.)

4.) We found places to agressively cut spending. One of the easier expenses for us to cut has been in household spending. I no longer purchase things to decorate or furnish the home. We are doing fine with what we have and I have learned that we do not need more. One of the hardest is groceries and dining. I’m still working on that one. Overall, we are taking drastic measures to spend as little as possible so more money can go towards debt.

5.) We are working on increasing our income. I have been furthering my education with some classes to earn more at work and my husband is working hard to get his business off the ground. We have also been making extra money in interest on one of our accounts thanks to Discover Bank’s CD rates and we’re trying to increase our worth, myself as an employee and my husband as a self-employed individual (hopefully soon ;))

6.) We use any extra money towards debt. For our tax return this year, it all went towards debt. The income that I will make from my blog will go towards debt. Basically, if it’s not from a paycheck it immediately goes towards debt. I’m also always on the lookout for ways I can make a few dollars here and there (surveys, selling things, etc.).

7.) We worked to reduce the interest rates on our credit cards. This one wasn’t that easy when we started out paying off our debt. Some people can call their credit cards and get their rates lowered. I wasn’t one of them until I started knocking down the balance on the credit card. Then they listened. For more on this one, visit my post here. We also used balance transfers to shift debt around at lower rates and even tried prosper.com to refinance some of our debt. You can get some information about credit cards and how to use them properly at creditcardsguidance.com.

8.) We figured out our gameplan. We listed our debts and figured out which ones were were going to pay down first. All extra money was shifted towards that debt. There are many different methods one can use (like pay the lowest balance first or even the highest interest rate balance) but remember you have to do what is right for you! We actually are paying attention to a few things with our plan: our credit ratings (trying to keep debt equal between my husband’s accounts and my accounts) and trying to not have too many balance transfers going at the same time due to the risk (like how one minor late payment can skyrocket the interest rate).

9.) We calculated a goal date. I was a little hesitant to do this one, because I didn’t want to set a date and then not make it. But I am finding that the date is keeping me motivated. May 2009 here we come!! πŸ˜‰

10.) We are not gonna give up!! There will be times we slip. We sure did end up spending a lot for dining last month and of course I feel bad about it. But it sometimes slip-ups happen to the best of us. Just pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and keep on heading towards your goal.

That’s everything I can think of at the moment. But I’m still learning – there is probably more to come πŸ™‚


22 Comments

  • Reply MamaDuck |

    Excellent ideas, as this is mostly about one\’s mindset as well. Our list is up, if youÒ€ℒd like to lookÒ€¦ have a great day!

  • Reply Chris |

    That is awesome, keep up the good work. I did something similar about 10 years ago. I moved home and put much of my paycheck towards my cc bills.

  • Reply Shadows Edge |

    Congratulations! I spend the last couple of years getting out of my credit card debt. All I have left now are my student loans and mortgage. Keep up the good work!

  • Reply Ty |

    Anyone notice there is conflicting advice out there about carrying cash?

    Some experts say to use cash (never use plastic), because studies have shown that if you carry cash you spend less money, because you feel the pain of spending the money, while plastic is so easy.

    Then there is your camp where they say no cash at all, so you keep track of your expenses.

    To me it sounds like a personal decision on this one. People need to realize what hurts them more to use (paper or plastic).

    If paper hurts to part with, carry cash and no debit cards.

    If you freely spend paper money but hesitate with plastic, then carry plastic.

  • Reply Tricia |

    MamaDuck – thanks! So much of it really is mental.

    Chris – congrats on getting your cards paid off! It’s always great to hear success stories πŸ™‚

    Shadows Edge – congrats to you as well! It sounds like you were in a similar situation to us. Once our CC debt is paid, we will be paying off the student loans and mortgage as wel πŸ™‚

    Ty – excellent point. I’m going to highlight your comment. Thanks for mentioning it!

  • Reply John |

    Never stop hammering the overall rate down. Always try to xfer the highest rate balance to the best 0% intro offer you get. Only apply for one 0% line at a time. Eventually you’re managing all 0% lines. Then you just keep it that way. I haven’t paid a cent to the banks in two years, yet my current balance is $80k. You’ve come down from your high far enough to have leverage now. New credit expands overall credit. You shouldn’t *use* it, but you should *have* it, because it improves your debt-to-credit ratio. Mine is 52%… of $154,450. I use their incredible greed against them. Email me if you want to know more.

  • Reply Tricia |

    Ray and King – thanks! πŸ™‚

    John – thanks for your comments. I plan on trying to keep the rates low, except for my Prosper loan. I sort of gave my word that I wouldn’t pay that loan down until I paid off one of my credit cards first and I still have a little over $6,000 to go. Unfortunately, the low interest rate will expire in November and I’m not sure if I can get it paid off before then. I hope one of my other cards will offer a balance transfer deal. I am hoping to receive better offers once I pay more debt down. The lowest one recently has been for 4.9%.

    Thanks everyone for stopping by πŸ™‚

  • Reply Champion Cheapskate |

    Good job. Keep the faith. Stay positive. It’s not over yet. Changing your life is lifelong project. Old habits (spending) may have taken a hiatus rather than died off completely. Be prepared. You have added new things to your life and it takes time to work them into your everyday life, celebrations, holidays and special events. It has been done before, as you well know, and I see no reason you can’t keep succeeding πŸ™‚

  • Reply Tricia |

    There’s a big “test” that might be coming up for me actually. I may be having relatives visit. What that usually means is that I spend a lot of money to decorate our house. I guess the only way to describe it would be to put on a show so our family thinks we are doing okay. This year, though, I’m not going to do it. We are who we are, and live as frugal as we do for a reason.

    Thank you for the words of encouragement! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Debt Guy |

    Great job! You’re on the right track and I have no doubt you’ll accomplish your goals

  • Reply elisha |

    I 100% DISAGREE with the not using cash thing. Like you, I have a list of things I’ve done to cut my debt. If I had to point out the ONE THING on my list that’s helped the most, it was the practice of starting to use cash for EVERYTHING. I put away ALL the plastic–including the ATM. At each paycheck, I pay all my bills out of my checking account. I make sure I have 200 a week for gas and food in my wallet. Everything else goes to the debt. I can look at the 200 bucks in my wallett and I know what I have has to last me.

  • Reply Tricia |

    Hi Elisha – some people do better with a cash system. We have done better without a cash system. It’s one of those things that someone has to figure out what works best for them.

    Since you said that you cut your debt – CONGRATS!! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Mike |

    If you don’t use cash and you don’t use a credit card, what do you use to buy groceries or gas etc…. Just checks?!?

    Thanks

So, what do you think ?