This is a guest post by Christine Marie. If you’d like to write a guest post for Smart Saving Investing, check out the guidelines here.
Huge question: How do I get out of the massive credit card debt I’ve created? I need to do something about it, NOW.
I’ve been reading other blogs about debt reduction so I thought I’d write about mine and keep track of what I do as I go along.
My goal is to wipe out out all of my credit card debt or reduce it to an extremely low amount (to be determined later).
Bill Stevens the owner of this site is a distant relative and I asked him if I could write something for his blog and he said yes. So here I am.
Bill wanted this site to mostly be about saving and investing as you work your way through life but sometimes that doesn’t happen or gets put on pause. And while I’d certainly like to get back to that, I have to clean up my credit card debt first.
How It Happened
Well I feel like I don’t have too much of a different story than anyone else in massive debt.
I was younger, I didn’t have a budget, I had a pretty good job, I wanted stuff, I wanted to party, I wanted to travel. So I did.
I got married, I had kids, life happened.
Zero Percent Credit Cards are Great!!
It was a time of zero percent credit cards. It was so simple, you get one 0% credit card and use it. Another credit card comes along offering you a higher line of credit that’s also 0%. So why not. Sounds great.
I’d either get that card or transfer my balance from one card to another. I was paying off the credit cards or paying more than the minimum required. This pattern repeated itself for about 10 credit cards.
And then, the the bottom fell out of the economy.
No more zero percent credit cards. Ouch. I had multiple cards by now with balances and some with high or extremely high balances.
But it was okay, I just continued to pay the minimum or a bit more. No problem.
Well, it became a problem.
My husband quit working for about a year because of health problems that didn’t qualify for any kind of assistance.
Then I had heart surgery. I was able to take a month off of work but it really took me about a year to mentally get back into the swing of things.
Stress. Debt. Guilt. Anger. Ashamed. It all hurts.
Where We’re at Today
Today, I’m 48 years old. I have a good job in corporate IT and made it through the time where everyone was getting laid off.
I have two daughters who are out of college and starting out on their own.
I make $80,000.00+ a year. I’ve got, drum roll please, $80,000.00 in credit card debt.
I used to have $5,000.00 in an emergency savings account and now I have $0.00 in my emergency savings account.
I have a house worth approximately $170,000.00 but owe approximately $130,000.00. I plan to refine and report these numbers as I look at refinancing our house to lower the monthly payment as well as pay off credit card(s) with the refinance.
I started worrying about not making ends meet a few months back and I knew it was coming. Unfortunately I didn’t do a damn thing about it earlier.
Lying to Myself
I kept telling myself it will get better. Well with no plan, how could it.
Oh yea, I’ve got approximately $250,000.00 in my 401K but I can’t touch it without major penalties and I don’t want to anyway, but it’s crossed my mind. And that’s even if my employer would let me, which I’ve read you need to be in financial hardship to qualify.
To some, I might not be in financial hardship but it feels very much like financial hardship. Pretty soon, something’s NOT going to get paid on time if I don’t act.
So I’m going to dig myself out somehow.
I found a lot of the financial blogs recently where people have gotten out or getting out of debt, and it’s very inspirational.
So inspirational in fact that I’d like to create a web page just for inspirational sayings and stories about folks who have done it. I believe reading a page like that on a daily basis can help keep me going with my financial goals.
I’ve lost about 35 lbs. over the course of the last 8 months from eating healthy and exercising. One thing that really helped me during that time was all the inspirational sayings and images regarding eating healthy and exercising that kept me going on that path.
Well, I don’t have a detailed plan right now, except some thoughts in my head, but I’m working on it today and will report on this blog with articles that talk about what I’m doing and how it’s working out.
I’ve got a spreadsheet of credit cards and related details about those cards, so I’m going to start by cleaning that up and create a budget spreadsheet.
I’m also going to look at consolidating those credit cards if I can and how I’m going to do it.
So that’s it for now, talk to you soon. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Obviously, I’ll consider every suggestion.