My story begins in December of 2009. I was charging when I wanted something, then it evolved to charging when I ran out of money…until it evolved to the point of getting a paycheck, paying my bills (minimum payments only) and not having enough money left to live on until the next payday. I felt as if I was in a state of perpetual broke-ness! NO FUN! A 41 year old with a decent job should not be living like that. I realized that I was behaving like a petulant child who felt like she deserved to have what she wanted right now, buy now – pay later. I realized that I was making my present life very stressful and killing my future. I realized (finally) that “treating” myself to some shopping, was not treating myself at all! I changed the way I was thinking about my situation….I had gotten myself into it and could get myself out of it. I recalled the Oprah’s Debt Diet. I’d diligently watched every week, taking notes, seeing families that were in way worse shape than myself slowly work their way out AND see that they had a future with retirement savings! At the time of the show, I was in denial, (I felt that as long as I could still pay my bills, then I was ok – ha), but it all came back to me when I realized NOW is the time to change my habits.
I decided that for the entire year of 2010, I would not charge and I needed to do monthly updates on Facebook to keep myself accountable.
I started my journey with $27,440 in CREDIT CARD DEBT. The two things I had going for me was that I have never been late on a payment in my life, so my FICO was decent at 733 and all of my credit cards have LOW interest rates (all under 10.25%). I had 5 credit cards and have DOLP’d two. The remaining ones I call my three kids – AmEx, Citi, and WF Visa – they are big. My lowest credit card is the American Express at $3200, then after that is the Citi Visa at $5900, and then the Wells Fargo Visa at $12645.00.
Each month, I gave a status update about how I was still charge-free, how much I had paid down on the cards ”kids”, and how much total paid on debt (including house and car)…part way into the year I got into investments! I had a Fidelity IRA and rolled it into a WellsTrade account and picked some stocks. I started with $29,778.00 in that account and it is now up to almost $36,000 as of today. I also have 401K that I max out. By then end of the year, I’d whittled away $4,600 in credit card debt. I have kept going with my fiscal frugalness 2011 and have paid of another $1,400. Due to large vet bills during 8 months of this year, my progress was hindered, but now I am back on track.
Progress on my debt free lifestyle is slow, but I know I will get there. I am very serious about this and am proud of my progress. I thank you for showing me way back on Oprah’s Debt Diet that even the worst cases have hope! After hearing you speak last night I now see that I need to research my investments in my 401k and understand them better. I also need to do the folder system to be better organized.
Thank you for coming to Des Moines!! I am so glad I met you in person. Here is the picture that was taken last night. It seems a little hazy for some reason. Maybe the picture from your camera turned out better. I’ll email you again down the road to let you know when I have become DEBT FREE!!