No. of Recommendations: 9
My spouse and I owe so much credit card debt that I am embarassed and ashamed to let anyone know. We owe so much credit card debt that getting out of debt feels hopeless. I need to know if anyone in the history of the world has ever owed this much to credit cards and lived to pay it off. Okay, here it is - we owe $81,000 to a combination of credit card companies. Don't bother pointing out how stupid, crazy, irresponsible, and awful this is - I live with this shadow over us every day. But, is there any hope? We make enough money, but the minimum payments are $1800.
Well, at least now I've confessed. Maybe that's a start
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No. of Recommendations: 3
If you make enough money to pay the minimums and maybe even a little on the one with the highest interest rate, start paying them off. If you got into debt through consumer purchasing -- stop doing that and sell anything you can let go of for extra cash towards the debt. If you got into debt from trying to start a business, all you can do is live and learn. If you got into debt from major medical bills, well at least you're alive and healthy to work and pay it off. Most of us have some mistakes in our life, and all we can do is learn from them.
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No. of Recommendations: 0
There are others on this list who have had huge CC debt and lived to see it disappear. The rest of us are still beating the debt down and knowing that there is a light at the end of the CC debt tunnel.

For us to help you, the standard response is to request that you list all your CCs, how much you have on each and what interest rate. Give us an idea of your budget (how much you spend on food, clothes, car, shelter, etc) so we can help you identify where you may be able to cut back, at least temporarily, until you get your CC debt down.

You took the first step out of your trouble, you posted here!

Congrats!
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No. of Recommendations: 5
Okay, here it is - we owe $81,000 to a combination of credit card companies.

FWIW, $81k is not the highest amount this board has seen. We've seen six figures before, and they've dug themselves out!

Don't bother pointing out how stupid, crazy, irresponsible, and awful this is - I live with this shadow over us every day. But, is there any hope?

You've come to the right place, PineLevel!!! Nothing but help, encouragement, and the occasional "tough love" here.

The main questions you need to ask yourself is HOW and WHY this happened. More often than not, it is behaviors and attitudes that need to be recognized, accepted, then changed to reflect your new G.O.O.D. (Getting Out Of Debt) priorities.

If you feel comfortable enough, you can post your monthly expenses and we'll take a swath at what seems reasonable and what doesn't. Sometimes it just takes a new set of eyes to make you see something. For example, a few weeks ago, it was pointed out that someone's truck payment was more than their mortgage.

We make enough money, but the minimum payments are $1800.

I'd start by reading the FAQ to the right ========>

That's a good primer on lots of the things we'll be talking about. In particular, pay attention to the parts about emergency funds, freedom funds, and snowballs.

Well, at least now I've confessed. Maybe that's a start

There's no "maybe" about it...it's DEFINITELY a start. Take a look at step 1 of any 12-step program.

So, welcome, settle in, and when you feel comfortable, let us know how we can help.

-Agg97
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No. of Recommendations: 6

Start here:

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=18984128

You can also sort the CC board by Recs if you click on the "Recs" link at the top of the column. Many of the most highly recommended posts on this board are success stories of people paying off debt amounts as high or higher than yours.
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No. of Recommendations: 8
Nice reply, agg.

Let me just add that you will never find a group of more non-judgemental Fools who have been there, done that, and tried to hock the screenplay. Some of us have had small credit problems, others have had debilitating financial difficulties. The one thing we all have in common is that we came here seeking advice and support and we all received it. Now many of us offer it. There is practically no story, situation or excuse you can offer that someone else here has not already been through and survived.

My advice is to lay out the details of your debt, your income, and your expenses. Be prepared for some tough love. Our first job is to move you from your overloaded financial senses to a more controlled and focused look at your fiscal life. We do it with a combination of shock and awe. And we will celebrate every victory you bring about with a little Happy Dance.

Fuskie
Who hopes both you and your spouse participate in this Foolish process, take nothing we say at face value, and make sure you understand and agree with every decision you make...

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No. of Recommendations: 12
Don't be ashamed. Be empowered. I've never been in a real 12-step program, but everyone knows the drill. The hardest part is admitting that you have a problem and commiting to a solution.

You CAN conquer this debt. As everyone has said, it's not the largest that has been overcome. It's going to take discipline and commitment but it's not a monster as long as you stop paying by their rules. Take this month to get your house in order, collect all your information and come up with a plan. Then stick with it. Start asking for rate decreases. If you have a history of late payments or missed payments, they will probably decline the first few times you ask, but keep at it. I usually ask for a rate decrease on my non-balance transfer accounts at least once a quarter until they give in.

Budget. Yes, the B word. If you don't know where your money is going you have no way of getting out of debt. Come up with a REALISTIC budget and stick with it.

Get smart about your money. Know where it's going and how best to apply it to get out of debt. Spreadsheet the hell out of it and look at as many options as you can. I'm just recently learning the absolute value of this. I've made plenty of mistakes on my debt repayment. Realize that you are going to do the same and roll with it.

Snowball. If you can't come up with any initial snowball amount, which is doubtful if you've budgeted and gotten control of your expenses but hey we all get in over our heads at some point, then try to pay off an account as quickly as possible so that you will have a snowball amount.

Take a look at your budget again. Is it still reasonable? Is it possible for you to squeeze more out of it?

Take a look at due dates and your payroll cycles. Is it possible to schedule half of your minimum payments every payday? If you pay online, will the paycheck hit the account and fund before the bill comes due (be careful! Do NOT miss a payment)? If it is, then move to bi-monthly payments. You won't save as much as if you were able to pay every two weeks (26 times a year vs 24 times a year) but it's still a savings so long as you NEVER MISS A PAYMENT.

One final thing. There is different wisdom on this, but I am a full believer in making sure that I will not have to use the CCs again. Every payday I have an auto transfer to savings that funds a CD purchase and some savings bonds with a little left over to start an e-fund. It's not a lot, but having that cushion helps to lift a burden. Even if it's only 25 a month to a savings account that you force yourself not to touch it can help. Others say not to try to fund any savings until you are out of debt, and I realize the value of that statement (the money isn't really yours if you are in debt and no savings can come close to the interest rate on debts) but psychologically it helps.

I won't wish you good luck, because luck has nothing to do with getting out of debt. Be strong.
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No. of Recommendations: 3
Other posters have given you an excellent welcome.

What you've done in the past is past. The way to fix it isn't by feeling bad or beating yourself up. It's by changing what you do in the future.

But, is there any hope?

We're always hopeful, but honestly you haven't told us enough to be sure.

Is it more than 5 times your annual income?
Do you and your husband both want to get this debt paid off?
Do you know where the money went?
Do you have a sense of how much your minimum monthly expenses are? (Not the credit card payments; your bills and stuff like that.)

Well, at least now I've confessed. Maybe that's a start

It's an excellent start.

Here are some next steps:

- If you haven't already, take the credit cards out of your wallet and have your spouse do the same. You must stop charging to beat this.
- Sit down at a phone. Call the credit card that is charging your highest interest rate. Ask them "This rate is much higher than my other cards; could you lower it?" If they say "no", ask to speak to a supervisor. If they still say "no" write down in your calendar to call them again in three months. (Don't whine at them, don't tell them your whole story, just ask them the question directly.) Then get your spouse to call your second-highest rate card.
- Start getting rid of stuff. If it's stuff you've bought in the last month march yourself back to the store and return it. There's no shame in returning stuff. Otherwise see if there's anything you can sell on ebay.
- Write down your expenses for the next month. You're going to need to know what your budget is before you know how much you have to send to the credit cards every month.

You can do it. Good luck!
- Megan
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No. of Recommendations: 0
PineLevel,


I've been in your shoes. Not quite that much, but DW and I ran up $64,000 in credit card debt. Our snowball for paying it off was twice our mortgage payment. I finally got the message when I realized that the finance charges where approaching the size of our mortgage payment. We cut up the all the credit cards but one (which we locked up in our safe deposit box), went to using only cash and debit card, and took out a 10 year home equity loan. I know thats dangerous, but we have avoided carrying any balances on the card for the last 7 months - had to use it to charge plane tickets but immediately paid it off. We have also set up a budget and are building up our efund (currently $3100). The fixed rate HEL freed up over $800 per month in cash flow, which has allowed us to pay all our living expenses in cash, plus add to our efund. Once we have built the efund up to a comfortable level, we will start accelerating the payments on the home equity loan.

It is imperative to stop using the cards immediately - freeze them, cut them up, do whatever it takes to take them out of your hands. If you do tap your equity, be VERY sure not to run up any more debts. It is very easy to do if your cards are still accessible to you, so make them as inconvenient (or impossible) to use. There is hope, but you have to get so totally disgusted at your spending habits that you become willing to change.

There is hope. Read some of the past threads on this board, and you will see that there are some folks who managed to dig themselves out of some very deep holes. Hang in there and keep visiting these boards - we're rooting for you!

foolazis
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No. of Recommendations: 0
You've come to the right board. There are many on here that have gotten out of debt using advise from this board, including B/T, freezing your credit cards, etc.

JaniceR
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No. of Recommendations: 1
Welcome to the club, PineLevel!

Don't be ashamed, embarrassed, etc.... because you're obviously here for a reason. And that is to take control of the situation and get out of debt!

Levels of debt are really mostly irrelevant unless you know the interest rates being charged, how much someone's income is and what assets they have, etc. Someone with 15K in debt making $25K a year might be more in trouble than someone with 81K level of debt.

Many of us have been where you are... sweating bullets, up at night tossing and turning over our debt. But YOU have chosen to focus and do something about it... so turn that stress into focus and fervor for LBYM, budgeting, snowballing, and learning all that you can about intelligent steps to take from this point.

I want to stress fuskie's point... that can't be reiterated enough. Make sure that your wife is equally a part of this process. You will efficiently be able to move forward with one of you dragging behind...it can be quite empowering for a couple to rally around the act of getting out of debt together.

Good luck, Godspeed and all that. You're not alone.

mz00m
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No. of Recommendations: 1
Welcome to the board!

There's definitely hope! You make enough money, and you realize there's a problem with having that much debt... it obviously makes you uncomfortable and you came here. It's a good start and there are a lot of supportive people here who can offer you help.

I think you've already gotten a lot of great advice, so I won't overwhelm you with anymore while you digest what they've all said. I'll just remind you that you didn't get into debt overnight and you won't get out overnight either. It'll be hard, and it's a lot of work, but you can do it.
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No. of Recommendations: 0
Let me reiterate a statement from another reply:

FWIW, $81k is not the highest amount this board has seen. We've seen six figures before, and they've dug themselves out!

Again,

FWIW, $81k is not the highest amount this board has seen. We've seen six figures before, and they've dug themselves out!


It is not as bad as it seems, but habits must be changed to stop it from getting any worse. Others have advised how.


Best of luck.


CPAScott
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No. of Recommendations: 7
Welcome Pinelevel,

Great advice on getting DW on board I am working down a huge debt as well.

Hope you don't mind but the ride home was boring and I thought of this humorous but stupid analogy of my own overspending.

Picture this a couple of huge Hollywood size fans blowing on max and DW and Me are in the middle. Every payday we are paid in only one dollar bills and the money is just shoveled in front of the fans and all we can do is grab whatever we can for ourselves. In many ways this is exactly what our spending has been like before TMF. Making more money in the past did not make much difference. The money just went all over the place. Higher income just made more of a mess. More dollars flying all over the place. How are we solving our problems DW grabs one fan I grab the other and turn the dang thins down.

You ask can you get rid of this debt? Absolutely but turn the FANS DOWN.

HOW for starters,
2 steps.
1) Can you go this day without adding any more to you debt? No cheating 24hour, If yes go to step 2.
2) Go back to step one until Happy Dance.

There is some great advice and encouragement on this board. but for now your reading mine. You probably have a high income that once you gain control of your spending. Trust me on this. You will have power enough to take this debt on.

Just my $.02 but I would start folders for every single one of your CCs, Loans, etc. face them head on. What are the balances, Rates, What are minimums. Write them on the outside of the folders. I write the balances each month down in order.

Thankfully, none of them ever went up month to month. If any do you and DW need to face this as well. Find out how you are doing with them daily, weekly, monthly. Get mad at the folders. I put mine in order of highest interest rate to lowest. Deal with each folder.

You want to attack the highest interest folder with all you and DW have. Dose that mean Control your spending. It will surely help. BUDGETing, with the income you have think of what power you will have when the debt is gone. 2K a month and with hard work you may find more.

I would not worry about how large the debt is right now. Take control and make everything balance. You really need to face today the NOW. Tomorrow well you have spent quite a bit of it already, as I have so don't worry about it. Make today the day you take charge

Roy (Who welcomes you and hopes that you and DW will turn down the fans)


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No. of Recommendations: 0
If only to reiterate what everyone else has said...$81k is a lot of money but it's not the end of the world. It CAN be done with hard work, some sacrifice, and education.

Basically...take the time to sit down and map out everything that you would spend money on. Then decide what is important and not important. Is it important to get that Double Espresso Soy Milk Latte (I don't even know if they MAKE that!!!) at Starbucks? Not usually...that's $5 a day that you can put aside to pay off a credit card. It will take time. It will take effort. But it CAN be done.

And just to reinforce things... You've already started just by admitting that there is a problem!

(Just an aside...I started with $17k of credit card debt, $12k of vehicle loan, and $4k of student loan...I work full-time and I've started back to college at nights to finish my degree. I have to front the cost of the classes and then get reimbursed 2-3 months after paying for the class. I've already knocked $4k off my credit card debt in 2 months due to some windfalls and I've got a plan to get all of it gone by the time I'm finished with classes in Dec, 2006. It can be done...just that you have to work at it and keep things in perspective. Set goals that you can achieve in the short-term to start. Seeing these goals actually being met will be the best way to motivate you.)

Scott
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No. of Recommendations: 4
I need to know if anyone in the history of the world has ever owed this much to credit cards and lived to pay it off. Okay, here it is - we owe $81,000 to a combination of credit card companies.

Between credit card debt, lawyer debt, medical debt, and back taxes debt I owed more - and was unemployed. I'm finding my own way out, no credit counseling, no bankruptcy, no wage garnishment, no judgements. It's not pretty, it's not easy, I've had to make very hard choices and taken some risks. The rewards of digging out are HUGE.

YOU CAN DO IT!
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No. of Recommendations: 9
I need to know if anyone in the history of the world has ever owed this much to credit cards and lived to pay it off. Okay, here it is - we owe $81,000 to a combination of credit card companies.

Yes... DH and I paid off $137,932 in nonmortgage debt in 40 months. Somebody has already linked to our happy dance post, upthread.

It was hard but it was so worth it I can hardly believe it. We're now two years post-payoff and life is just amazing.

You can do it! Really! Step one: Stop charging, period. Remember the first rule of holes: When you find yourself in one, stop digging!

Good luck!!! There is definitely all kinds of hope!!
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No. of Recommendations: 2
mlk58, Did I mention that I love you? Your story is my inspiration. Congratulations.
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No. of Recommendations: 0
Awww... that's so nice! Thanks for making my day!!

mlk58
enjoying life on the other side
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No. of Recommendations: 3
Get a room.

xtn
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No. of Recommendations: 0
Welcome!

Okay, here it is - we owe $81,000 to a combination of credit card companies. Don't bother pointing out how stupid, crazy, irresponsible, and awful this is - I live with this shadow over us every day. But, is there any hope?

Yes, absolutely. Please don't be ashamed; be determined and you can do it.

Here's one of numerous success stories on this board.

Author: RadioPhool
Subject: $84,000 of debt, over and OUT!!!
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=14796459

Over time, you can get a lot of support, information, ideas, as well as tough love on this board. You're in for the long haul, but it's one haul that will be worth it.

Good luck,
$IQ
Single and achieved my own final "Happy Dance" when $74,000 was finally paid off in December 2002.
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