This Reader Story comes from KC. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income.
First, I want to say thank you to Get Rich Slowly. It was about the time this story begins that I started reading this wonderful blog. So, let's jump in.
It was July, 2010, and my wife and I finally decided it was time to face the music. For years, we continued to pile up debt and hid behind the real issues. How? Paying minimums, doing balance transfers, and most importantly, never totaling up all the debt. So we decided to make a stand.
We agreed to no more credit card spending. We agreed to live within our means. We agreed to get out of debt. And, we agreed to look the frightening debt total square in the eyes. And let me tell you, it was scary — $135,000 worth of scary! Yes. That is not a misprint. We had $135,000 in credit card debt: Visas, MasterCards, Amex, Department Store, you name it.
So in July, 2010, with $135,000 of credit card debt, a nice mortgage, and 2 kids, my wife and I were facing a potential bankruptcy. How did this happen? We lived beyond our means. We bought stuff we couldn't afford, specifically on credit cards. We had a failed attempt at an online retail store. And, we didn't live within a budget. I have to tell you that it was shocking and painful to know that we were in so deep. Psychologically crushing! So we dug in. It wasn't hopeless.
Fortunately, my wife and I both make very good money and, believe it or not, we have great credit. Our total income has increased every year for 5 straight years. We hustle and we always look for ways to increase our income. Beyond credit card debt, we have a mortgage, car payments, 2 kids (preschool costs), and student loans. We agreed that in 5 years, we would wipe out our credit card debt.
Fast forward to today. We have knocked out $65,000 worth of credit card debt! Woo-hoo! We're about half way there and the momentum is unstoppable.
When we started, the average interest rate on our credit card debt was over 15%, which meant we were adding $1750 of interest debt per month. Now, it's at 2.5%, which equates to about $135/month of interest per month. We are on a plan to finish paying off our debt in 23 more months or exactly 5 years from the day we made the decision!
So, how have we done it so far?
- We committed to change
- We cut up our credit cards
- We utilized lots of balance transfers to drive down our monthly interest costs
- We got a loan from Lending Club
- We made more money
- We went to a cash system for spending, including weekly allowance, groceries, etc.
- We created a budget and debt tracking system
- We cancelled cable
- We eventually started using Mint, which is a great tool as well
- We spent time reviewing our progress
- And, we faithfully read Get Rich Slowly.
Many of those very steps we took we learned by reading this blog. We can't thank you all enough. Today, our outlook on life and debt is so much different than it was 3 years ago. We started down this path bruised and battered, but not beaten. We decided enough was enough. Now, we are so incredibly confident we will reach our goal in 2 years, we want to scream for joy. 23 more months!!