The holidays are over and now it’s time to pay for the gifts, at least for most of us! I’ve already gotten a few of my credit card statements. But what about those of us who have severe credit card debt? Not so very long ago, I had racked up quite the credit card debt. What was I thinking?? I wasn’t thinking; that’s the point. I was a single mother, trying to provide for children and got in over my head. Once you start living beyond your means, it starts snowballing and becomes quite scary. Back in the day, we got credit card offers almost daily, easy credit, high charge limit, and 0% rate, but those quickly faded into 20% + interest rates. The days of easy credit are now history; however, we are still suffering through the consequences of overspending.
I thought about marrying a wealthy man…tried that and it lasted 11 months! After that marriage ended, I considered bankruptcy, but that wasn’t a good option for me, after all, I work for a bank and I have a good credit score. Maybe I would come into an inheritance? Not likely, I have a very healthy family. Win the lottery? I firmly believe the lottery is a tax on the poor, so I don’t buy lottery tickets. I had created this problem, I needed to fix it.
The real solution to getting out of credit card debt is through hard work and perseverance. And, I believe if you don’t go through the exercise of paying the debt back, you will find yourself in the same situation a few years down the road. Living within your means is a life skill.
Path to Freedom
My oldest daughter got married in January 2009. When we were planning for the wedding, her dad asked me to create a wedding budget. Budget?? Ugh, not what I wanted to do, even being a CPA, I was more into the ”mother of the bride” role, watching Rachel pick out her gown, bridesmaids dresses, wedding cake and such. But, I did it. It was a life changing experience, looking back. I started with an excel spreadsheet, made changes as I met with wedding vendors and updated it weekly, emailing him with the updates. I was able to pay for my part of the wedding with cash, didn’t use any credit cards. That got me to thinking that maybe, if I worked hard enough at it, I could get rid of my credit card debt.
After Rachel’s wedding, I started attending a Dave Ramsey www.daveramsey.com Financial Freedom seminar at my church. He has great ideas. I still have the materials and have used them as reference when talking to groups about budgeting. Attending the seminar led me to create a spreadsheet and list my unsecured consumer debts along with the interest rates. That was depressing! But, it made me pay attention to the debt and not stick my head in the sand. I have posted to that spreadsheet twice a month, every month, since then. It has been exciting to see how much I have paid back and how through hard work, I’ve been able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.