attacking the debt monster

I was reading some message boards about persistence and debt repayment.  This is what I did over the last thirteen months:

First, I took a day off from work and called every credit card company.  I confirmed the amount of the debt and got online access to my account.

I put the online access information into my password book and made a spreadsheet to track all my cards and loans.

Next, I started cutting costs.  I didn’t buy things, I cut back.  I started shopping more wisely at the supermarket.  I went from going to the movies, to Blockbuster to Redbox and DVDxpress to waiting for movies to come out on cable.  I saved a dollar here, a dollar there. I questioned every expense.  It has to have some great value, or make some kind of sense. I drove my electric bill down.

I targeted certain credit cards to pay in full.  I picked the two smallest balances first.  It felt great.  I reduced the number of bills coming in so I would lower the chances of accidentally defaulting. Then I started targeting cards based on the interest rate.

I then made a spreadsheet to replace my check register.  I kept nearly daily tabs on my account.  I stopped overdrafting and immediately started saving hundreds a month.

I pushed for overtime and then worked it.  Some money went for car repair, some for food, some for debt. We didn’t have enough money to pay all of our bills each month, so I cut back further.  I was lucky enough to get about ten thousand dollars in back wages.  I never saw it.  I paid out two credit cards.

I read about how to save money, and the best way to pay down debt.  I was doing it all. I got my tax refund and sent it immediately to my debt. I took back cans for money, pick change off the ground, saved coins, and paid for everything in cash.  I shrunk my debt in thirteen months from maybe 52 thousand to 37 thousand.

I quit smoking – repeatedly. Even those failures gave me some breathing room and put about fifteen hundred dollars into my pocket. I have more plans.  I use all sorts of methods; the snowball, the snowflake, and targeting balances based on balance size, interest size, or how likely the credit card company is to screw me in the future.  I suspect that I’ll pay down about six thousand more dollars in the next ten months.  It’s take that long because this is the first time in ten years I’ll have money for summer activities and for Christmas.  I searched the web about credit cards and FICO scores.  I decided to repair my credit. My credit took quite a hit from carrying all that debt.

After my next tax refund, I’ll come up with a new plan.  As soon as the smoke clears, I’ll decide what to pay next and in what order.

I must say, it was quite a struggle but I’m glad for it.  I realized how little possessions mean, how important health and time are, and how important… really important… having money is.

The biggest change was overcoming my problems with money and debt.  I shook away all the fears and shame my parents installed in my, looked honestly at the debt, and grabbed it by the horns. I didn’t let the fact that I fucked up for so many years depress me and make me look the other day, letting the debt and bad spending habits mount. I was sinking in red.  I bellied up to it and handled it.

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