I said that I would do it this year. It’s done. I made my final payment on what started out as $37,000 in credit card debt.
I’ve told my money story many times on this site, so there is no need to relive how I got into this mess. All that matters is that I got out.
This is the time of year when people are considering goals and resolutions for next year. If you have debt that feels like it is insurmountable, I want you to know that you can succeed in paying it off.
Earlier this year, I wrote Ten Ways that I Paid off $30,000 of Credit Card Debt in Two Years. Here are five more tips for paying off your debt:
1. Stop Using Your Credit Cards.
This seems like ridiculous advice, right? However, it’s a lot easier to overspend when you pull a card out of your wallet. Use cash. Get freaky old fashioned and use a check. Or, if you refuse to give up points, get a charge card. I got an American Express Zync account. I use that card for everything and I have to pay it off every month.
Don’t keep an emergency card and then sneak non-emergency items onto it. The only person you are lying to is yourself. New shoes aren’t an emergency. I don’t care about the sale. How do you think I got to be $37,000 in debt? Go back and read my money story.
2. Stop Buying Stuff.
If you need to put more money toward your bills in order to reduce your balance, you are going to need some budgeting wizardry. That will require spending less money. That is easily achieved when you stop buying stuff. Especially stuff that you used to put on credit cards. So the balances stop going up, which helps and you can get your budget under control.
3. Be Patient.
I wanted those credit cards to disappear immediately. I was ashamed of the mess that I’d made. I was a lawyer earning a good salary who couldn’t pay her bills. I was a compulsive shopping addict and that debt was proof of what I had done. I wanted to erase it all to make that pain go away. I couldn’t. And neither can you.
It won’t disappear. Face it. Accept it. Embrace it. Kill it.
4. Don’t Get Discouraged.
About six months into the time when I was KILLING DISCOVER (click that for an awesome video), I felt like it was never going to get there. The balance was still so high. I just wanted it to be done.
Too bad. You did this. Own it. Make it a game and turn it into prizes. Like I said, click that link and see what I gave myself for KILLING DISCOVER (if you haven’t watched it before).
5. Stop Making Excuses.
“I didn’t accumulate this debt for shopping. It was for medical expenses.”
“I don’t make enough money to pay my debt.”
“It is going to take too long.”
Enough. Stop. At some point, you have to start living within your means. At some point, you have to pay off your debt. I’m sure that I’ll get the usual round of commenters that say, you were able to do it because you make that a lot money. Okay… The government also owns me because of student loans, I make crazy large payments to my grandfather for money that I owe him and my mortgage is huge. I’ve been living paycheck to paycheck this whole time. It’s not like I had this cash sitting in my giant money pile next to the bed. Saying that I was only able to pay off my debt because I’m a lawyer is yet another excuse that you are making. (Sorry, but it’s time for the tough love.)
If you want to make it happen, you will. It’s time.