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Details…details….

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Okay–below are the nitty gritty dirty details!  Please please keep in mind that the minimum payments here exceed what I have paid down amount noted on the right hand column…because I still have 11 days in the month to pay those bills that are not due until the last part of the month.  I have paid extra on cards this month–even if only 5 dollars extra!  I paid off a small bill and am ready to move on to the next.  In short, the total amount paid you see on the right (currently $1,458.45) is not comprised solely of minimum payments.  Does that make sense?  Remember that we get paid weekly so a little bit each week is going to overall debt reduction.

Take a look and tell me what you think.  Now…when I say “tell me what you think” might I suggest that we all practice that tried and true “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  In other words, just throw me a flippin’ bone and tell me ONE good thing I am doing…I am human after all and even if just ONE thing before a list of 20 I am doing wrong…I promise I can hear the 20 bad things better if I just have that ONE!  Sorry if that sounds sensitive but this continues to be a HUGE deal to put my neck out every single day…and then someone comes along with a HATCHET and…well…you get the rest of that terrible picture.

Side note:  big boss in from Houston tomorrow and Thursday.  If we don’t hear the announcement this week…just anticipate my next post to be from an undisclosed location where they had to send me to manage “things.”  Ha!

  • Credit Union Line of Credit: $163.67    
    Minimum payment: $20.00 
    Interest Rate:  12.25%
  • Credit Union Line of Credit: $163.64
    Minimum payment: $20.00 
    Interest Rate: 12.25%
  • Credit Card: $217.00
    Minimum payment: $15.00
    Interest Rate: 9.9%
  • Personal Loan: $550.00
    Minimum Payment: $100 
    Interest Rate: 0% (LONG story on this one…to  my Dad…)
  • Credit Card: $760.54
    Minimum payment: $25.00
    Interest Rate: 23.99%

  • Credit Card: $1042.72
    Minimum payment: $29.00
    Interest Rate: 18.65%
  • Credit Union Credit Card: $1,834.16
    Minimum payment: $50.00
    Interest Rate: 15.70% (closed at my request)
  • Credit Card: $2062.73
    Minimum payment: $105.00
    Interest Rate: 24.9%
  • Credit Union Credit Card: $2,460.13
    Minimum payment: $50.00
    Interest Rate:  11.70% (closed by Credit Union b/c of divorce)
  • Credit Card $7071.02
    Minimum Payment: $140.00 
    Interest Rate: 18.24%
  • Credit Card: $14661.00
    Minimum Payment: $268.00
    Interest Rate: 11.9% (totally the divorce on this card)
  • Honda Civic: $16340.05
    Minimum Payment: $280.00
    Interest Rate: 2.9%
  • Credit Card: $23868.07
    Minimum payment: $560.00
    Interest Rate: 12.9% (closed at my request)
  • Honda Mini Van  $25447.49
    Minimum Payment: $436.00
    Interest Rate:  2.9%

Claire

Born and raised in Texas.I've at least driven through every state in the US courtesy of a roadtrip loving Dad.

I'm single with two children and a good parenting relationship with their father.

I am a "life is just half full of funny" kinda gal.Humor is my saving grace and I am thankful for it every single day.I have a strong Catholic faith and am thankful for that foundation.
I read a lot for a living but still enjoy a good book.I love biographies but in recent years have found the need for fun fictional books--sadly, for a long time I just didn't enjoy fiction!
I love live theatre of any kind--from local productions to Broadway.
I love to scrapbook and pride myself in my kids' albums.
I love being a mom but also love my career.I'm blessed to have found a balance allowing me to be at everything my kids need and want me to be at--while also having a career.
Favorite Quotes:Well behaved women rarely make history.
Behold the turtle.He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out. -James Bryant Conant

Latest posts by Claire (see all)


82 Comments

  • Reply Kim |

    Okay so this is bad. But I have been here before. My question to you is how soon can we pay off the first debt? As in when can we get the snowball rolling? You emergency fund sets at $200? Are you going to fund this first?

  • Reply Terry Lange |

    You have a plan and that is a good thing. Once you get the first four debts paid off, you will have $155 additional to attack the next two debts – the two credit cards. You are closer than you realize and once you get those first six debts on your list paid, you will really start to see some momentum and will be in a great position to attack and ultimately pay the remaining debts.

  • Reply MommaBird |

    You gathered up all the information on your debt and wrote it down. Got all of your balances, looked up the interest rates and organized it all together in a list. And that is a big accomplishment. I know of a lot of other people who are scared to put this all together like you have, much less publish it on a blog where it is open for so many viewers and readers to see and comment on (and sometimes unfortunately judge and say mean comments) but hey, you are putting it out there and documenting your journey and that is an accomplishment all on it’s own!

    • Reply MommaBird |

      I also wanted to ask if you use any budget type of software, whether that be an excel spreadsheet or an online service like Mint.com (which I use, and love… that is when I find the time to login and categorize my transactions) it might be one way to see where you spend extra money and see where you can save. Not sure if you had already addressed this on a previous post.

  • Reply Nadia |

    Thank you for posting this. It is very brave of you. I immediately went to my bills and looked them over and initiated payments and updated my spend list (which I have been writing down each dollar spent since 3/15 (whoop-de-do 5 days)) Getting it out in the open is so freeing. You can’t overcome a big obstacle like this if you don’t know it inside and out. Long-distance hi-five!

  • Reply Sarah |

    I think you are doing great! You have one debt paid off and are hacking away at the other debts. What a great start. Just focus that one is paid off. Next month, hopefully you can have line #1 paid off and then next month line #2 paid off. Just having some zeros up there should give you a great deal of confidence. Congratulations!

  • Reply sasha |

    Agree with everyone who says you are being brave! It is hard to tally everything up and then write it out for other people to see (and hold you accountable). You should be incredibly proud of yourself.

    I don’t know your payment history (obviously) but it might be worth your while to call the credit card companies and ask for interest rate deductions based upon good payment or whatever other reason you would be able to give. Those interest rates are high! Just getting the interest rates down could be a big help, especially as you start snowballing.

    Keep up the hard work, it will be so worth it. 🙂

    • Reply Claire |

      Sasha,
      Yes, this did cross my mind! I have excellent pay history with all creditors so I need to make some time to make these calls. Super tip and thanks!

      • Reply VIcki |

        I agree with Sasha, however, please be aware that if any of the cards are with Capital One, they will not budge. Trust me, I know. Good Luck!

  • Reply Cindy |

    I’d do snowball on the first 4 since based on march you could probably knock them out by may. Then I’d tackle higher interest first after that. 23% is a lot of interest to pay. Obviously do the cars last since they are secured debt. It’d be great if you could get rid I a car and have one Aid for beater for a bit too. You may be upside down though also

    • Reply Jen from Boston |

      Ditto. I’d knock off the small debts first just to get them out of the way. Not only would it be nice to jut cross them off your list, but you would no longer have to deal with the hassle of paying on them each month.

      • Reply emmi |

        Given the rate disparity, I’d be tempted to charge up regular expenses on one of the 9.9% ones and take the resulting freed up cash and pay down the 24%.

        But maybe if you tried that they’d raise the rate on the 9.9 one…

        Maybe call one of the 9.9 ones and ask if you can get a great deal on a balance transfer. Knock the transfer fee to 2% or something. Just thinking aloud here…

  • Reply Dream Mom |

    You have taken a lot of steps this month…blogging about it, moving to do your hair color at home, making some changes at the grocery store, etc…all of those things will add up over time. Good for you for making this list. It will get easier over time. Good luck.

  • Reply Marianne |

    I get all excited by the little amounts cause I know how quickly you’re going to be able to knock those out. That’s the best part of the snowball! I bet once you start getting the number of debts you have down you’ll start rethinking your cars. 🙂

    • Reply Claire |

      LOL Marianne! I think you are the leader of the “Car Gang!” 😉 Keep the comments coming and maybe we WILL see a change of heart and attitude…but not yet!!!

  • Reply Mysti |

    First off….$1400 down is terrific!!!

    Not sure if you decided what debt repayment plan you want to follow. But most of them will tell you not to throw extra money into debt until you fully fund the EF.

    Also, pick ONE debt to throw extra money at. Whether you pick the smallest one, or the one with the largest interest rate….just pick ONE. Then pay the minimum on the rest. It is hard, but it is more effective.

    Try whatsthecost.com. It will help you figure out what order to pay things to reduce the interest. Also, it helps with figuring out how long it will all take (and what happens if you can just add $10 more a month to repayment!)

    You are on the right track!!

    • Reply Adam |

      I second Mysti. Attack one debt and just pay the minimums on the rest. great start.

    • Reply Jen from Boston |

      Ditto. It may feel wrong at first, but if you pay extra on all debts then you’re diluting your effort on the debt your main focus is on, and since you have 14 debts, then the $5 extra you’re putting on 13 ($65) of them could be put towards the Debt of the Month.

      • Reply Claire |

        This is what I need to hear so thank you. I got very excited and all flustered about wanting to make something happen on every debt so the comments about where to put the money are coming at a good time. They help my focus.

  • Reply Claire |

    Hey Claire! Oh, my name-sake, you even spell it right! You are doing great, there is a lot of trial and error during debt repayment, especially in the beginning. Keep your chin up, great job!!!

  • Reply Jen |

    Hi Claire, I’ve seen much worse. You’re doing a great job, and you have plenty under 1k that you can knock down fast if you focus on them.

    Question: that loan from your Dad seems to bother you. Maybe just attack that one first, so it doesn’t bug you anymore?

    Also, do you have an EF? (Sorry if you’ve mentioned, and I’ve missed it.)

    • Reply Claire |

      Took me a minute but do you mean Emergency Fund by EF? I did lay out my timeline on achieving a $1000 EF and that is in early May. If I can get there sooner with hanging on to more of my weekly spending money I will definitely do so!

      I am cutting and pasting the Dad loan info in case you aren’t following the other comments:
      Lots of good questions about the dad loan. The long story is my Dad needed to give me that loan more than I needed that loan. I know that could be construed as a controlling father who wants to have something to hang over my head but it is not that at all. Such a long story but I have absolutely no negative feelings about that loan from my Dad. In fact, quite the opposite…he needed to do that emotionally (back story: it was help during my divorce and sometimes Dads just need to be there for their daughters in that way during those tough times) b/c it was (I think) all he felt he could offer me at the time. It is all good and hey look at that! I just told a long story in just a few words…not my strongest skill!

      • Reply Dylan |

        Awww. I have a dad like that. When he wants to do something for me, I’ve learned it’s easier & faster to not fight it. I do, however, insist on giving him extra hugs. 🙂

  • Reply gloria-victoria |

    It seems like you have no emergency fund so every time something comes up that requires cash, you turn to credit cards. Please build up a small 1-2K emergency fund first to keep small stuff from becoming more debt. Then target one debt at a time to pay it off. Paying 5.00 extra on each debt will not do that. Concentrate you energy into not creating new debt and paying all extra on to one targeted debt until it is paid off.

  • Reply jolie |

    I am a fan of wiping out a few of the smaller ones to get the momentum going so I would echo what many have said. Take care of those first four cards first and snowball that amount to the next debt.

    Here is a neat online resource that you can plunk your info into and get a good visual of how much you would need to pay to get the debts paid off in 3 different time periods.

    http://www.gailvazoxlade.com/resources/own_up_to_debt_worksheet.html

  • Reply Connie |

    I say….GREAT JOB!!!
    How brave and freeing it must be to put yourself out there and be available for judgement.
    I give you an extreme amount of credit–ha–not the financial kind!–for being so open and honest. We will walk with you thru this journey. In the end–you, me, us….we will be better for it!
    Great job and keep up the good work.

  • Reply Chantal |

    Honesty is the hardest step–now you have begun you’ll get there. My husband and I have gone on to a second stage. We slowly got rid of all our debts, except mortgage of $887 and 1 car payment of $206 monthly. We are now saving to add to retirement pension and Social Security as he retires in December. (I retired sometime ago)

    Oddly enough this works in exactly the same way, with frugality and determination yes, but instead of disposing of debts now gone we are spending on everything needed that will really cost. We now have a small new car (half paid for) new furnace and air conditioner, 2 big, old rotting trees removed, house exterior repainted and new dishwasher. We were able to re-finance the house on a new fixed mortgage at a much lower interest rate of 3.75. Now we are aiming at a new roof on the house and also saving to try for ca $100,000 dollars saved for emergency expenses. Savings are now at $40,000.

    I hope this isn’t infuriating? It is just as necessary, as we are 71 and 66 years old and it is the discipline of getting out of debt that has made it possible to go on in this new fashion.

    My very best wishes to you–I know you will succeed.

    • Reply Claire |

      Oh thank you Chantal! This was not infuriating at all but instead inspiring. I appreciate your sharing and your honesty!

  • Reply Adam |

    You see here that there are many tools and methods on how to attack debt. Lots of people use the snowball method.

    http://www.daveramsey.com/article/get-out-of-debt-with-the-debt-snowball-plan/

    You may choose to work the smallest balance first, or the smallest interest rate, or kill the personal loan to your dad since it weighs on you. I happen to like the smallest balance method since you get quick, frequent wins that way, it really helps the motivation. (Dave Ramsey says it’s 80% mental and 20% math or something like that). But choose the method that works for you.

    Are you current on all your debts?

    great job so far!

    • Reply Claire |

      Yes Adam–thank goodness. Not one late payment ever…that’s also part of why I had so much credit extended to me…super timely on payments! There have been times that monthly bills (utilities, phone, water, cable) have been floated to do this but truly a perfect report on timely payments.

      I’m cutting and pasting my response on the Dad loan here just in case you aren’t following the other comments:

      Lots of good questions about the dad loan. The long story is my Dad needed to give me that loan more than I needed that loan. I know that could be construed as a controlling father who wants to have something to hang over my head but it is not that at all. Such a long story but I have absolutely no negative feelings about that loan from my Dad. In fact, quite the opposite…he needed to do that emotionally (back story: it was help during my divorce and sometimes Dads just need to be there for their daughters in that way during those tough times) b/c it was (I think) all he felt he could offer me at the time. It is all good and hey look at that! I just told a long story in just a few words…not my strongest skill!

  • Reply Walnut |

    Congrats on knocking out one credit card already. One less minimum payment to make! I think you’ll be able to knock out your balances under $1000 pretty quickly. The piece of mind you’ll have from not having to manage or think about those minimum payments will likely be pretty zen like for you.

    Remember, we’re here to help celebrate your victories. Feel free to post any time progress is made – no reason to just save it for the end of the month.

    Every single day of debt repayment is hard. You’ll rethink every decision and work hard to not spend money. Let us cheer you on when you make an extra payment or help cheer you up when debt repayment just plain sucks.

  • Reply Alice @ Dont Debt |

    You are doing a great job – with your choices and with the blog.

    You mentioned that you make payments each week – are you using your bank to make the payments online? If you’re writing a check and mailing payments, those stamps are going to add up. If you do it through the bank, they send the payment for you and that saves money. I would also add, make sure that you do it through your own bank and don’t give your information to the creditors. All it takes is one mistake on their end to really make for a bad day.

    If you’re already doing these things and I missed it, I apologize.

    • Reply Claire |

      No worries and no check writing! All online and no fees associated. Thanks for the reminder, the tip and the unknown “attagirl” in there since I am doing this! 🙂

  • Reply Den |

    Claire,

    Great job – thank you for your honesty. I highly recommend that you read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover book to get you fired up even more with your debt snowball….in a few months you’ll have knocked off some of your smaller debts and you will feel wonderful!

    Also, please do pat yourself on the back for EVERY debt you pay off! I would even suggest a small (and frugal) pay off ceremony each time you pay off a debt. Burn the last statement, cut up the card, make a special dessert for dinner, put a bullet hole thru the card and make it into wall art – ha ha – but truly celebrate each success!

    • Reply Claire |

      Ha ha Den! This is funny and a helpful reminder to properly acknowledge our hard work. I am reading a Money Map book that is (as a comment pointed out a couple of weeks ago) somehow part of the Dave Ramsey beginnings. The principles are essentially the same but the delivery is different. Something about Dave’s delivery just makes it hard for me to “hear” him! I need to give him another chance though b/c it has been years since I did AND I was nowhere near the debt reduction mindset I am at now.

  • Reply Jen from Boston |

    How do you feel about the loan from your dad? It’s 0%, so strictly by the numbers you should pay that off last, but if it’s really bugging you that you owe him money I’d pay that off first. As someone else mentioned, paying off debt isn’t just about the numbers, but also about how you’re feeling.

    I just paid off my dentist – I owed him a total of ~5K for some major dental work. He did me a huge favor by not charging interest. For a year or so I’d make monthly payments of $300 or so and put extra money towards my mortgage, but after a while it felt wrong. I felt like I was taking advantage of his goodwill. So when I got my bonus this year I bit the bullet and paid the dentist bill in full. I now feel better AND I don’t have the hassle of remembering to pay him each month.

    • Reply Claire |

      Lots of good questions about the dad loan. The long story is my Dad needed to give me that loan more than I needed that loan. I know that could be construed as a controlling father who wants to have something to hang over my head but it is not that at all. Such a long story but I have absolutely no negative feelings about that loan from my Dad. In fact, quite the opposite…he needed to do that emotionally (back story: it was help during my divorce and sometimes Dads just need to be there for their daughters in that way during those tough times) b/c it was (I think) all he felt he could offer me at the time. It is all good and hey look at that! I just told a long story in just a few words…not my strongest skill! 🙂 Thanks Jen and woo-hoo on that big dental bill pay off!

      • Reply Jen from Boston |

        Thanks! And I think it was very graceful of you to accept your dad’s help when you recognized that he needed to help you. Also, it was very sweet of him to try to help you, too 🙂

  • Reply Amy |

    okay…must say the math question instead of a captcha is an awesome thing!

    I’ve been following this blog since Becka was writing, and I love coming here to see your progress too! I’m just starting out (again) on my debt reduction journey and am very proud of you for speaking out against your debt!!!

    Personally, I’m following a mix of paying down my lowest balance and highest interest rates. By tackling only one debt at a time, things (for me) seem to go down faster, and that snowballed payment makes a HUGH difference when it’s applied to the next debt.

    Good luck on your journey!

  • Reply Stacy |

    I agree with the other posters, pick one debt at a time to tackle, starting with the smallest amounts. You have so many small debts that you could possibly wipe out 3-4 debts in one month – what a great way to start your journey!

    The only exception might be the car loans, once you’ve wiped out your smaller debts. They’re costing you less than 3 percent. Maybe save them for last and hit the higher-interest loans first.

  • Reply GrannyAnnie |

    THANKS, girl! I have a large debt load I’m trying to make progress on, and although I have made some progress paying off a couple of smaller credit cards,I still have a LONG way to go. It becomes drudgery after a while, so I read your blog (and others) to keep me motivated. You. Are. Helping. Me. Your payoff balances are what they are. Get ’em out there. Hate ’em. Get scared by them. Attack ’em. Mine are bigger than yours, but the good thing is we are doing something about them. $5 here and $5 there works. I’m with you, kid. Keep going. I need you.

    • Reply Claire |

      Oh this is great to read GrannyAnnie! Thank you for the extra motivation! We will get there!

  • Reply Colleen |

    I’ve been using Mint since 2007 and it has helped out so much with tracking all of our spending. Once those small balances are paid off you will feel like you are on the right track. Try to put together at least $1000 in an emergency fund and use it only for emergencies. Just listing all of your debt is a huge accomplishment!

    • Reply Claire |

      Hi Colleen–yes, the emergency fund is on track to be funded by early May. I put that in an early post and have now entered the weekly amounts to get there on our spending spreadsheet. My husband created an excel spreadsheet that tracks every penny except for our “spending money” which I am working on better defining. Thanks for posting!

  • Reply Shannon |

    I think you are doing a terrific job!! You got one all the way to zero and a few others aren’t far behind.

    I’m a little puzzled by your math. You said you paid $1458 + 200 into emergency fund. However, when I add up all your minimum payments, you really paid $2098. Am I missing something? I guess what I’m saying is you aren’t giving yourself enough credit!! If you paid 2 grand PLUS save 200$, that’s even MORE amazing!!

    • Reply Claire |

      Hi Shannon–I actually have additional payments due between now and the end of the month. The $1458 is what I’ve paid so far in March which is mostly minimum payments except for the pay off of card #1 (lowest balance). I hope that makes sense.

      • Reply Shannon |

        yes that makes sense. So by the end of the month you will have paid a lot more than $1400. WOW! That’s so impressive!

  • Reply Janelle |

    You are off to a great start. Knowledge is half the battle. You are facing your demon – now knock him out!

    My only suggestion – get rid of the debt to dad ASAP. In 99% of relationships, it will cause strain in some way. Knock daddy off within the next month if you can, then start at the lowest debt and work your way up.

    I know you don’t want to sell a car, but I still would get rid of one of those vehicles.

    Also, this may help – once you have an on average idea of what you can put towards debt each month, figure out how long its going to take you. Then, figure out some awesome reward for your family when you are done (of course that has to be done with cash too!). Ours will be paid off in 16 months and we are celebrating by going to Disneyland ***WITH CASH!!!!***.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Reply Tackling Our Debt |

    Getting all of this written down in black and white (or online) is a huge step. At first it can be difficult to face but then it can also feel like a weight lifted.

    When I first wrote down all of our debt I felt quite calm. But as the months go by and I continually look for new ways to make extra money I feel stressed out all over again. It’s a huge challenge to deal with.

  • Reply LJ |

    I just want to say… YOU ARE DOING GREAT!!
    Thank you for being so brave, honest, and INSPIRATIONAL!

  • Reply Big D |

    Sorry but when you said “Sorry if that sounds sensitive but this continues to be a HUGE deal to put my neck out every single day…and then someone comes along with a HATCHET and…well…you get the rest of that terrible picture.” YOU have to remember that YOU are sharing this with the world and if we don’t like it, we don’t have to pretend to.

    I am not saying that what you are doing isn’t good, but don’t expect, no demand, that your audience “be nice” because you put yourself in debt.

    You have to be willing to take the good comments with the bad if you post them online for the world to see…

      • Reply Shannon |

        that’s exactly what I was thinking. “oooh I’ll be mean and hateful if I want too!! ooooh! You can’t stop me because it’s a public blog!! ooooh” What a tool.

        • Reply Claire |

          That’s a sad thought to have Shannon…but thanks for sharing anyway? I’m learning that humor is often misread in a blog post…at least for some.

          • Barb |

            I think Shannon meant she was thinking the same thing that Adam was about Big D’s comment – that is was mean and uncalled for.

            You have a lot of people on your side here! Keep up the great work.

          • Shannon |

            Right. I wasn’t being mean to Claire, I was being mean to Big D. I was pretending to be him. It made sense in my head!! LOL

          • Claire |

            SO SORRY SHANNON! I think I’m hypersensitive still and I misinterpreted your post!

        • Reply Jen from Boston |

          It absolutely amazes me how many people on the internet utterly FAIL to understand the difference between constructive criticism and truly mean snark.

          And it also annoys me how many people like to think that THEIR circumstances/way of life must apply to everyone else.

  • Reply Theresa |

    You are doing great! I agree with others clean up those under 1K debts- the fewer debts you have the easier they are to manage. Using the snowball will be the most efficient use of your money for those smaller one. Once you are down to the last 4 debts I would definitely put the last credit card before the cars but that is down the road. Call up and see if you can open that 25K credit card. An open line of credit will give you more leverage to get the interest rate lowered.

    Get that storage unit cleaned out! You’ll have an extra $35 on your debt! You go Claire!

  • Reply Jorge |

    Hi Claire

    Two things, in a recent reply you said that the 14 hundred you paid so far are minimum payments??
    If this is true, then I think that you cant decrease the amount of your debt, because the minimum payments doesn’t go full on to principal.
    In any case the amount owed will decrease but not in the same amount of the payment.

    Second, I think you need to sell the car, and get a paid off beater, I know this might be hard, and I don’t know enough about you or your needs, but I don’t think you can afford this car right now.

    Hope you don’t get mad at me, just my opinion, otherwise, I think you are in the right track.

    Good luck

    • Reply Jen from Boston |

      Jorge, I think you were very nice, polite, and supportive in giving you thoughts about the cars 🙂 You “get it” when it comes to helpful criticism!

  • Reply First Step |

    Great job on making your list of debts and starting a plan for the payoff!

    I think your plan of starting with the lowest balance debts is good way to build early success. I’d continue with that method until you pay off all of the under $1K balances.

    Since you have kids, I’d suggest adding to the emergency fund (EF) before hitting the debt too hard. Maybe when you find extra money (like spending less on groceries, or canceling/lowering a monthly expense), add that to the EF.

    Contact the lenders with the highest rates and ask for a rate reduction. If they won’t do that, look for balance transfers to get your rates down. Lowering your rates will allow you to see your higher debt balances go down from even the minimum payments, until you’re ready to start sending extra money toward those debts.

  • Reply Sara |

    Holy moly you have your work cut out for you!!
    The first thing that comes to mind when I saw your totals was *CONSOLIDATE*!!!

  • Reply Sara |

    shoot, i hit enter too quickly, i wasn’t done yet.
    My suggestion would be to consolidate what you can of those High Interest cards because that’s whats killing you. Minimum payments of 105, 140, 268, 560!! OUCH!

    But i agree with others, if you can get those other minuscule ones out of the way that’ll free up bits and pieces to go towards other balances.
    If you’re current on your payments you can usually call and request a lower % rate or see if they have any transfer options available, if not, say well “so n so card company offered me this, can you match it?” (whether they did or not, that company has no way of knowing).

  • Reply Lisa |

    Congratulations on getting rid of one payment. You’ve done great – admitting it is the first step and I love the information you’re openly sharing.

  • Reply Katie |

    You are doing a TERRIFIC job! I’m already so proud of you! I want to echo what a couple of people have said. You have never missed a payment, so pick up the phone and ask to get those interest rates knocked down. Use the “I have a transfer offer right here” line, and they should come down. Also, if you can consolidate, do it. I found in my journey just keeping track of all the different debts, payment dates, etc. was stressful. I was petrified of missing a payment and then having all the interest rates skyrocket. If you can knock out those small balances quickly and then consolidate a few of the larger ones, it may seem like the balances are more daunting, but in the long run, it will be helpful.

    What a great month already!! Pat yourself on the back!

  • Reply Kate |

    Any chance of moving some balances to a zero percent credit card? I know there is a Chase Slate card that has zero balance transfer fees right now. Those interest rates are tough.

    I also think the car payments are really limiting your ability to reach your goals. (I am buying my friend’s 2007 Odyssey tomorrow for hard-scrounged cash. I never want another car payment in my life!)

    Good luck with everything, I enjoy your honesty.

    • Reply Claire |

      Thanks for this Kate! You and emmi are motivating me to pick up the phone. I will set aside time this weekend to do so…every little bit of interest reduction will help. I do get that for sure!

  • Reply Holly |

    Pat yourself on the back…..I agree with what so many posters have said here. Little victories are a great motivator at the beginning. I’m in a situation a lot like yours, and I’m loving all the ideas that people are sharing and all the things I’m starting to think about. I’ve been trying to pay “a bit more than the minimum” on all my debts, but I’m going to go back to all minimums except one that I will have in “attack mode”.

    Your car rates are awesome, but yeah, some of those credit card rates are almost criminal, especially if you have a solid payment history.

    Two hours of phone time to knock out a few percent or do a balance transfer would be more than worth your while.

  • Reply Nadia |

    Yes! Clear out the storage unit. Having too much furniture and stuff in college is a huge burden because you have to move it and store it during the summer. Boys don’t need all that much anyway, just som cinderblock shelves and a futon :-p. Sell the stuff inside and don’t keep paying to store things you don’t need.

  • Reply emmi |

    You have a very smart dad. Those are some real terms.

    Keep it up! You are a brave woman.

  • Reply emmi |

    In the light of morning with fresh coffee, I’m with Kate. You have to shift balances off those two 19% and two 24% cards. As much as you can as soon as you can. Call the low ones and ask about balance transfer deals. Call the high ones and ask about lower rates. You are in the great position of being good at paying, make that pay out now.

    Don’t close out those lower cards and leave yourself no room to maneuver.

    Paying down 50,000 at 10% interest over 5 years will cost 13,000 in interest. (monthly payment 1060)
    Paying down 50,000 at 21.5% interest over 5 years will cost you 32,000 in interest. (monthly payment (1700, and all that additional 640 a month is interest!)

    • Reply Claire |

      Thanks emmi–as I told Kate via reply you have both reminded me of the importance of even just a slight reduction in interest. With my pay history I should be able to get even more than just a slight reduction! This is on the “to do” list for this weekend!

  • Reply Sheila |

    I think that the car debt is not as big a deal as everyone is making it out to be. The interest rates on the cars are the lowest by far of all the others. You have chosen to purchase Hondas which are known to last for many years/miles. Could you have gotten used Hondas for less? Probably. But the cars you have you should have for many more years to come. You will be spending much more on interest to all those other cards without anything to show for it. You are paying less interest on the car loans and will have two dependable vehicles for many years.

    Maybe you will feel differently (and many other commenters do already!) down the line but for now I say don’t worry about it. Spend your money and energy getting those other outrageous interest rate debts out of the picture.

  • Reply JMK |

    Consolidate! Some of those credit card rates are unbelieveable.
    1. move all the credit cards balances at rates higher than your Line of credit to the line.
    2. talk to your bank ASAP about a better rate on that line of credit. Ours originally was something similar when it was unsecured. We used it as a float during out DIY home construction. Once the house was done we changed to a securred line of credit and the rate dropped to prime + 1%. If you can get the rate down, maybe there are more credit card balances you can transfer to the LOC for the better rate. If your house is currently underwater this may not be an option, but at least ask the question before you make multiple calls to reduce the rates on all those cards.
    3. Set up automatic payments on the line of credit to cover the mandatory minimum payment each month so you never miss it. Then on a weekly or monthly basis you can throw additional funds at it (this is how we paid ours off when the house was done).
    4. if you can consolidate all those high rate cards onto one line of credit and still have a little headroom, then you don’t likely need the other line of credit at the identical rate, right? I don’t believe a line of credit does anything to boost your credit rating, quite the opposite, so unless you need both lines of credit to clear the credit cards, then get rid of one.

    Consolidating a bunch of your cards means you won’t have the “fun” of crossing one off as done every few months, but financially it makes sense to pay as little interest as possible and plow the savings into reducing the principal.

    I understand about keeping some of your credit cards, particularly ones with a long history, for the purpose of boosting your credit rating, but at a certain point they may actually be hurting you. Here when you need to renew your mortgage, they look at all that available credit as places you could run up debt and count it against you when determining the rate (or amount) you are offered. At the very least considering lowering the available credit on the card once it’s paid off. Don’t do it while you are paying it off – that can impact your credit rating (if your balance owing is at 50% of the limit they consider that worse than the identical balance which is only 25% of the limit.

    Just a few thoughts, but really good work so far. Some of those tiny balances should be gone within a month or so.

  • Reply Elithea |

    Claire, you’ve mentioned that you will have your EF funded by the beginning of May. I’m guessing your goal is $1000. I thought I’d suggest that because you have so many kids at home (and therefore more possible emergencies) you consider a slightly higher amount. I actually was thinking $1550 so it would include the amount you owe your dad. That way you’ll have a little extra in case of emergency, and you’ll also have it set aside just in case he needs it repaid for some reason, or if any family issues do arise.

    You’re off to a great start! Keep it up!

  • Reply Sarah |

    Hello Claire, Well as promised I have not sent any more negative comments. I am happy to say that I think I was wrong about your committment to reducing your debt and I stand up and cheer for you listing your numbers for all to see. It takes a LOT of courage to do that. Now, I have read a lot of the comments here and I have a slightly different approach. Using Bankrate.com and your numbers I came up with this. You could actually get the first 7 items on your list paid off in 12 months if you pay this much per month:
    163–25
    163–25
    217–20
    550–100
    760–75
    1042–100
    1834–170
    for the rest you could pay the minimums and the car notes as is. I think a 12 month goal is realistic and do-able and less overwhelming. Yes it would be fun to get rid of the lesser ones first and that’s admirable too but do check out the site I mentioned. It can help you figure out how long you want to be paying on certain debts and can give you a lot of valuable information. It’s only a suggestion. Again I think you are very courageous. I wish you and your family the best.

  • Reply Carrie Smith |

    I totally understand where you’re coming from. Sometimes it can be so difficult to see the 1 shiny penny among the 9 dull ones. But the fact you’re making progress, and facing your debt head on is a huge accomplishment to begin with!

    I think what you’re doing here (getting community support) is the first step. With a good support system and creating goals, you will be well on your way to becoming debt free. Hope that helps and keep it up!

So, what do you think ?