About 5 years ago I was drowning in credit card debt, a scenario partly due to my extravagant lifestyle. It was a different kind of happiness resulting from 'free money' used to buy expensive gifts for my boyfriend, shopping sprees, and parties for my friends. How? Through credit cards to me by my parents when I was still a student.
The problem really began when my parents stopped making payments on my credit card accounts. They had to pay off my student loan, which they took out to fund my studies. Then they decided to stop making my credit card payments and told me to find a good job.
I knew that debts could be paid off but was not sure where to start. I was frightened and even considered running away ... The unpaid credit card debt amount was $50,000; still, my boyfriend encouraged me to take responsibility. He helped me find a part-time job, and I started freelance writing. My total monthly income suddenly wasn't that bad. I shared my boyfriend's place and determined to pay off all debts.
How I paid $50,000 credit card debt and became debt free in 4 years
I ditched my spending habit ...
Changing my spending habit wasn't easy, but I had no other options. I took a close look at my income and realized that I had to stop overspending. I stopped driving, eating out, and partying.
Took an inventory of my finances ...
I needed to pay off 4 credit card bills amounting to $50,000. My boyfriend took responsibility for the utility bills and asked me to cover the cost of food. So I included groceries in my budget and deducted that amount from my total income to determine how much money I had to pay off my debts.
I followed the debt avalanche method to pay off debts ...
If your credit rating is good to excellent, a balance transfer method to credit cards with lower interest rates is a much quicker option.
But mine was not. So my boyfriend suggested paying off the higher interest debt first by making extra payments, which helps save in interest. Paying off higher interest debt, while making minimum payments on other debts is called avalanche method. If your credit score is not established, this is a good method of reducing debt, while also creating good credit.
To begin with, I listed my debts from highest to lowest interest rate, and had 4 credit cards in which the debt amounts and interest rates were as follows:
Credit card-1 $10,000- 19.31%
Credit card-2 $20,000-12.10%
Credit card-3 $10.000- 10.01%
Credit card-4 $10,000- 5.51%
I started paying monthly payment to the credit card-1 while making the minimum to others.
The whole process took quite a long time to complete, but I focused on my goal and continued making payments until I repaid all the credit card bills in total. How?
I sold my car ...
I decided to sell my car to save money on fuel. I traveled with my boyfriend, when necessary, but most of the time I worked from home. After selling the car, I put the extra cash toward the highest interest rate debt.
I took a full-time job to earn more ...
After one year, a good job helped me to live in a rented apartment independently. I worked my full-time job and continued the freelance job to earn some extra cash.
Celebrated my first success ...
After having paid off the first debt, I went for a weekend trip with my boyfriend to celebrate the success. It motivated me to stay focused on my debt-free journey.
I didn't acquire new debt ...
When I started earning money, I realized its importance. I made a commitment to stop swiping credit cards unless it was an emergency. The debt payoff journey helped me to understand the difference between want and need. I didn't opt for new lines of credit, which leaves huge monthly bills to pay off.
My tips to get out of debt ...
My debt success story inspired me to learn more about finances, and after 4 years of my debt free journey, I decided to switch to financial subjects as a freelance writer. Now, I am working as a freelance writer for a debt consolidation community.
From my experience, it is clear that taking action is very important. Getting out of debt is a journey that may take some time but doesn't wait; start right now to pay off your debts. The personal freedom you will gain from being debt-free and responsible for your own finances will fund your life in more ways than one.
Here are some easy ideas you can follow while getting out of debts:
- Ditch your credit cards, or consider saving just one with the lowest interest rate for emergencies.
- If you already have a good credit score, consider a balance transfer method to credit
- cards with lower interest rates.
- Don't invest in a new car -- yet.
- Sell unused items that may bring added money in your pocket.
- Write down your goals. Stick to them.
- Keep searching for a job that pays well.
- Create a realistic budget.
- Set aside a certain amount every month to make an extra debt payment.
- Consider credit counseling to assist you in paying off your debts.
Author biography: This post is contributed by Patricia Sanders who writes & blogs for the Debt Consolidation Care Community.