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Personal Finances / Credit Cards and Consumer Debt


Subject:  Re: CC+Student Loans=$150K: Help! Date:  5/23/2001  9:48 PM
Author:  aja91 Number:  72289 of 312187


I think you're doing a lot of things right. Putting some money into savings is a good idea; realistically planning for the occassional inexpensive fun (Half Price Books), keeping housing costs and utilities low, and so on. If your group at work goes to lunch daily, only go 2-3 days per week. Suggest less expensive eating places. Munch on a bag of pretzels in the last hour before lunch to lessen your appetite.

It doesn't sound like the car expense is out of line, but have you considered if you need one? Do you live near a bus line, subway, or train that can get you to/from work? That may enable you to sell your car, eliminate that expense, and (possibly) get you some money to apply to your debts.

My main concern for you right now is the credit cards. You'd mentioned that the minimum payment on those is around 25% of your take-home pay. (I didn't see a number on the student loans, so I'm skipping that for now). There needs to be some money freed up to speed up the payoff on these.

Time to break with conventional wisdom. Stop contributing to the 401(k). You are contributing 6%x$38,000=$2,280 per year, or a shade under $200/month. You may net an increase in take-home pay of $125/month -- put all of that towards the credit card balances.

You haven't mentioned how this debt is structured -- all one card, multiple cards with varying rates? In either case, keep your eyes open for "teaser" rates for switching balances, as this can reduce the interest you pay.

If you get a raise, don't increase your standard of living - plug away at the debt with the additonal monies. Eventually, you'll reach the point where you can pay the balance in full -- make sure you let everyone here know!

It will take time, but be persistent about it.

Hope this helps.
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