How I Paid off $6,000 In Credit Card Debt


credit card debtI didn’t have credit card debt for long. I didn’t suffer for decades. I never had creditors calling me, and I wasn’t in bad enough shape to get turned down for a loan. Yet, I still felt the weight of it every day. That’s the reality of credit card debt. Whether it’s $500 or $50,000, it’s still a nagging feeling, something extra on your to do list, and something that’s quite difficult to improve if you’re not willing to change habits and get in the right mindset.

How It Started

I got my very first credit card at age 22 for one purpose and one purpose only: to buy my husband (then fiance) his wedding ring. I didn’t have the money to buy something so expensive at the time, so I wanted to put it on a zero percent card and pay it over time. Of course, you probably know how it goes. Something that started out innocently enough grew into putting gas on it here or there and then we used it to fund a little bit of our honeymoon, etc. I’m not proud of how it started, but I do like to be honest about it.

When It Got Worse

We were managing our debt well enough and always paid above the minimum. I suppose I always felt that I was trying to get it back to zero, but I never sat down to figure out how much it would take. We both had steady jobs and were never late on a payment. Then, my husband decided to apply to medical school. We spent hundreds in application fees, and then when he got into a Caribbean school, we lost his income.

The Peak

As someone who is a personal finance blogger now, I shake my head knowing exactly what we did wrong. We didn’t track anything we were spending, which is just absolutely amazing to me now, as someone who plugs everything we spend into an excel spread sheet throughout the month. But that’s now, and we’re talking about then. We had good jobs and a comfortable life, but we didn’t have enough in savings, and we certainly didn’t have enough for international plane tickets to send the hubs to school. At the peak, we both maxed out a $3,000 card each.

Chipping Away At It

Before that $6,000 peak, we were actually trying to pay it down. Like I said, I was always aware of our debt, and I often felt the weight of it. I always paid above the minimum, and even managed to knock out a credit card for a TV we owned prior to my husband going back to school. (Yes, I know. Credit card for a tv = bad. My how things have changed.)

18 Months of Work

It wasn’t until 18 months ago that I laser focused my efforts on this challenge. For 18 months straight, I focused heavily on paying it off. I wanted it gone. I wanted it out of my life. We were accruing student debt due to my husband’s medical school tuition, and I didn’t want the credit card debt to get out of hand too. I started working as a freelance writer on the side. It was slow at first, but a year later, I am able to add a considerable amount of extra money to our monthly income. I have used this extra income every month to slowly pay off the debt.

Victory

I was hoping for victory by the end of this year, but it came sooner in the form of a promotion at work. That first paycheck was all I needed to finish off the credit card debt once and for all. I’m actually very proud of myself. While my husband certainly contributed to these efforts by not spending needlessly and not complaining about modest meals, I feel as though this is a personal victory too because it showed me how much can be accomplished with good old fashioned hard work. We now have $500 extra dollars a month (an amount I had been paying on our credit card debt for almost 10 months). It’s time to go to the next goal, which is paying down our student loan interest and maybe saving for a vacation. We’re so excited, relieved, and proud to be here saying we’re credit card debt free. If we can do it, we know anyone else can.

Who else is working on their goal of being debt free?

photo by vectorportal

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Written by Catherine Alford

Catherine Alford is a freelance writer who currently lives in the Caribbean with her husband and spoiled pup, Julep. She received a B.A. from The College of William and Mary and an M.A. from Virginia Tech. When she is not writing for various personal finance websites, she enjoys sharing her frugal and fabulous adventures on her blog, BudgetBlonde.com.

Catherine Alford

Catherine Alford is a freelance writer who currently lives in the Caribbean with her husband and spoiled pup, Julep. She received a B.A. from The College of William and Mary and an M.A. from Virginia Tech. When she is not writing for various personal finance websites, she enjoys sharing her frugal and fabulous adventures on her blog, BudgetBlonde.com.

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