I was the sort of child who saved the artificially-colored grape half in my Del Monte fruit cocktail (the "cherry") for last. And so have I done with my Happy Dances. Rather than celebrate each retired card (4 total), I've saved the dance to celebrate the whole shebang -- twenty thousand big ones!I discovered the Fool in late December of last year and vowed to dedicate 1999 to eradicating our seemingly colossal and immoveble credit card debt. Working diligently, we planned to have it all paid off by March of 2000. Inspired by our success, though, we accelerated our payments in order to start 2000 credit card debt-free. And so, just moments ago, I sent a final EFT payment and our outstanding CC debt now stands at ZERO.I have been in CC debt since the age of 20. I'm 34 now. I can't bear to think of how much I've paid out in interest over the years. But those days are behind me now and now I'm throwing more money than ever at my student loans and into savings. CCards get paid off in full each month now.Thanks to all of you wise and wonderful Fools for encouragement and advice. I hope I have contributed as much to other people's struggle with the debt monster.
I was the sort of child who saved the artificially-colored grape half in my Del Monte fruit cocktail (the "cherry") for last. And so have I done with my Happy Dances. Rather than celebrate each retired card (4 total), I've saved the dance to celebrate the whole shebang -- twenty thousand big ones!Hey jthrelkeld!Great job!! It must feel great to get to that finish line even faster than you expected. Congratulations!Keep knocking down those student loans. Sounds like you've got another dance on your card yet. Go, go, go!And lest you think otherwise, every Happy Dance puts a smile on my face and a renewed strength in my own battle. Your success is my encouragement.SpeleoFool.
Way to go! I was in an identical situation, in debt since before I could legally drink and for over a decade I had balances and interest payments. Finally paid it down last year.I'm sure you made many sacrifices along the way to finish pay it off. Maybe you can continue making "debt" payments to your savings/brokerage account now instead of the card debt. This time next year you could have $20K in the bank.Congratulations.Ed
I'm not a good writer, so I usually don't congratulate Happy Dances. Besides, Tony does such a brilliant job at it that whatever I could say would become insignificant in Tony's sizable shadow.(See what I mean?)But $20,000 is a stellar amount, and $20,000 in a year shows great discipline and determination. Big pats on the back, I click my recommendation button at you!Robb
Way to go.And I'm betting it will be a very happy new year for you!ZK
"I have been in CC debt since the age of 20. I'm 34 now. I can't bear to think of how much I've paid out in interest over the years. But those days are behind me now and now I'm throwing more money than ever at my student loans and into savings. CCards get paid off in full each month now."WAY TO GO!!!!!!!!!!! A big, hearty congratulations for a job well done. Don't look back on what you did, look forward to what you will do in terms of investments, savings, etc. It doesn't get any better than debt-freedom, and you are there! Its going to be a great holiday season for you and yours! Enjoy!!!!!Remember, your BEST credit is your own cash!!johnmoni
YOW!! $20,000 of credit card debt paid off in a year! That is just incredible -- congratulations on a HUGE accomplishment.And good call re: throwing more money at your student loans. Looks like you have one more Happy Dance to come. We'll be here waiting!Great job, great job! We're all dancing with ya!
WOWEEEE!! jthrelkeld, your feat is amazing. (Maybe your feet are amazing, too, I can't see you dance.)I am thrilled, thrilled! for you. Congratulations. Don't think about your lost interest. Think about how much better you are off TODAY than if you had not done what you just did. $20,000 in less than a year on any salary is phenomenal.For your comparison purposes, I'll tell you that if I make it to my happy dance early next year as planned, it will have been 20 years and some odd months of credit card debt for me, and I am 46. I can't wait to be in your shoes.
Congratulations on your success. What a great way to start the holiday season and a new year!!--ptheland
I discovered the Fool in late December of last year and vowed to dedicate 1999 to eradicating our seemingly colossal and immoveble credit card debt. Working diligently, we planned to have it all paid off by March of 2000. Inspired by our success, though, we accelerated our payments in order to start 2000 credit card debt-free. And so, just moments ago, I sent a final EFT payment and our outstanding CC debt now stands at ZERO.jthrelkeld,BRAVO!!!And please be sure to hang around this board -- your experiences will be a valuable aid to others.20k in one year? How the heck did you do it?Bruce
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.Dance, Dance, Dance.Congrats on your new debt freedom. Your post is definitely contributing to helping me on my road to debt freedom.Thanks,Dave
Golly, there are so many people dancing in here with me I feel like Anthony Quinn in "Zorba the Greek" (minus the smashed crockery).The shocking thing about eradicating so much debt over the course of a year is that it wasn't agonizing once we got into the swing of things. The biggest hurdle was the psychological one involved in facing our debt head on and deciding to take action and make sacrifices.There are three message boards which were essential to our quest: this one, Budgeting, and Living Below Your Means. I have a mental picture of these three boards as forming a tripod. Without one of them, my debt-reduction plan would have fallen over.I'm happy to share some strategies for those who are curious. In fact, what's really bizarre is that we had a particularly dry year businesswise (we're self-employed) and yet still managed to get rid of the beast.1. Make your money work for you. Any dollar which is not working for you is working against you. Examine where it all goes. This includes necessary expenses. Is your bank too expensive? Change banks! Are you putting premium gas in your tank when medium grade is fine for your engine? Use medium grade! Do you need a cell phone with a monthly plan? If not, get a prepaid phone or dump the cell phone altogether. It all adds up.2. Take money sitting in your checking or bank savings account and keep as much of it as possible in a money market account with a brokerage house. You'll earn a lot more in interest. Set up a transfer link between your MM account and checking account so you can easily move money back and forth between the two. Pay credit card bills early and often. Pay other bills as late as possible.3. Shop sales. Is chicken on sale for .39 a pound this week? Buy a big load of it, divide it up, and you won't need to buy chicken for the rest of the month at 1.39 a lb.4. Cook at home and don't eat out.5. Buy the store brand except in cases where its quality is not acceptible. For me, this has only been on rare occassions. Take advantage of store promotions (like a free turkey for spending what you'd spend anyway to shop there). Use coupons, but only for stuff you buy; if the brand the coupon is for is still more expensive than the generic brand, dump the coupon and buy brand X. 6. Make a realistic budget and stick to it.7. Based on your budget, devise an aggressive debt-paydown plan and adhere to it religiously.8. Stop buying things! Don't buy anything you don't need. Any discretionary income right now does not belong to you. It belongs to the credit card companies. So send it to them and don't spend it on stuff you don't absolutely need.9. If you must continue to use credit cards, treat them as cash, meaning pay it as soon as you make a charge. I use a NextCard Visa, partly because I can pay the bill online at any time. Nifty trick: if you've just charged $85 on it, send the cc company $125. You won't miss it and it will help you pay it down that much quicker. *WARNING* Don't use credit cards until you are absolutely sure that you're disciplined enough not to run them up again. If you still have a problem using them, get an Amex card or use cash only.10. Use the library. You can get books, CDs, magazines, and videos there. All for free!11. To give yourself a psychological boost, devise a plan for what you'll do with the money you're sending the credit card debt once those debts are retired. Now it's fantasy time, but when the debt's gone you can actually use the money to work toward your goals and at that point it's real. This will get you into the mindset of saving the money from now on and not reverting back to spendthrift ways.Hope that helps those of you who are seeking ways to maximize your own efforts to slay the beast. I plan to hang around this board in the future because there's such a great group of people here!Fool on and prosper...
I was the sort of child who saved the artificially-colored grape half in my Del Monte fruit cocktail (the "cherry") for last. And so have I done with my Happy Dances. Rather than celebrate each retired card (4 total), I've saved the dance to celebrate the whole shebang -- twenty thousand big ones!Wow, Jthrelkeld!!This is absolutely incredible!$20,000!! That's more than some people make in a year, and you've become free from a monster debt like that. I am VERY impressed--Congratulations--BigTime!Not only have you made this amazing achievment, and obviously changed your life for the better, you're success is an inspiration to others who can see that this can indeed be done.It's obvious that you certainly have much to be thankful for!A major Happy Dance to you!!Tony...but I still am...Off2Aruba
I'm not a good writer, so I usually don't congratulate Happy Dances. Besides, Tony does such a brilliant job at it that whatever I could say would become insignificant in Tony's sizable shadow.(See what I mean?)But $20,000 is a stellar amount, and $20,000 in a year shows great discipline and determination. Big pats on the back, I click my recommendation button at you!Awww, Robb--what a nice compliment, Fool. Thanks for that. But don't you dare cut yourself short, your posts are a tribute to this board on a regular basis. And don't you forget it! : )Tony...but I still am...Off2Aruba
I'm happy to share some strategies for those who are curious....(followed by No. 1 thru 11...)Dear jthrelkeld,Ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto, etc (11 times)! I've also had middling success with "just say no" -- to my friends who want to see a high-priced movie, etc. -- and with what I call the "scratch-n-dent" grocery stores (started a major war on LBYM board...) I know I could do much better. You are an inspiration. Only 1,600 CC debt to go.Now if I could just convince my indebted girlfriend she does not need to drink close to a 12-pack of Pepsi a day and a minimum of two lattes a week, we'd be a hell of a team... I'm getting some hints from her that my thriftiness is starting to make an impression. Her family thinks my habits are admirable.
Feel like I will never get there. Just getting started. My dream is to be off somewhere -- anywhere -- where I have the cash in my pocket and pay for everything with it. SIgh!!! Some day!
jthrelkeld,Congratulations! I am soooo envious. It's Fools like you that make it all worthwhile. Your post has energized me allthe more to keep persevering and tackle more of that debt. Just think of all you will save and can now apply to your student loans! BRAVO!Smitty7
Thanks to all of you wise and wonderful Fools for encouragement and advice. I hope I have contributed as much to other people's struggle with the debt monster.Wow! Congratulations!! Your contribution continues with this success story, encouraging others on their way and proving that it can be done. Fantastic way to start the new year!!
Congradulations on a momumental achievement.I just paid off a big one too. It was hard not to be obsessed with paying it off. It was the first thing I thought about when I woke up in the morning and I the last went I went to bed. I have another big debt to tackle next year. Any tips on how not to obsess or on how you cut costs?
YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!Congragulations on a monumental achievement. If we were all standing here your back would be black and blue from the well deserved pats. There's plenty of sawdust on the floor so dance away.I'm not far behind you. 3 month's to go!!Happy Dancin.Later....Shep
>>4. Cook at home and don't eat out.Ahhh, my biggest weakness. I will go to ridiculous extremes to pay my bills down as long as I can still go out to eat. I just love it -- I can't help myself.New clothes -- who needs em? Gas money? I'll take the bus. That haircut can wait till next month! But just don't take away my trips to (fill in your favorite restaurant here).If I could just get pst that, my checkbook and my gut (not to mention my wife!) would be sooooo happy!!
Hooray for you! That's wonderful!
Your girlfriend needs to lose that Pepsi habit for more reasons than financial ones!Soft drinks can contribute to osteoporosis, diabetes, dental problems, kidney stones and even heart attacks. And she is really consuming mass quantities!
Ahhh, my biggest weakness. I will go to ridiculous extremes to pay my bills down as long as I can still go out to eat. I just love it -- I can't help myself.Me too.A few pointers for getting the most for your money.Go to places that serve food either much better than you can cook yourself, or very different from what you cook.Chinese restaurants often serve green tea. It's good for you and drastically reduces the bill since you (well I) don't order drinks.Try to go less often. Say every other week, rather than every week. Have "cheap night out". That is what my BF and I call it anyways. We go grocery shopping and buy luxury items such as a bagette, pate, deli creme (yum), escargot and maybe a bottle of wine (we do make our own). This is much better eating than we usually have, but much cheaper than going out. A few candles, a table cloth and you have a romantic evening for two. (Note this works much better if you have no kids, or they are elsewhere).BTW - I have a great recipe for curried chicken liver pate. Guaranteed to harden your arteries. ZK (I was hungry before!)
Congrats! Great work. You are an inspiration to us all. Start investing that $$ in your future and put another cc executive on the street.Will
YOUR OPTIMISM IS JUST THE SHOT I NEEDED, THANKS, YOU MADE SACRIFICE SOUND FUN AND I CANT WAIT TO GET STARTED TO DOWNSIZE MY DEBT! HUNTING FOR BARGINS AND SAVING MONEY IS JUST THE CHALLANGE IM LOOKING FOR RIGHT NOW, AND HEARING THE POSITIVE MOTIVATION IN YOUR LETTER WORKS FOR ME!........IM NOT GIVING IT AWAY ANYMORE TO THE ALREADY RICH, I WANT TO GIVE TO THE WORKING ON GETTING RICH!>>>>>ME! THANKS, AND HAVE THE BEST HOLIDAY! DEB
jthrelkeld, Congrats on your Happy Dance!I really enjoy hearing stories like this - they're very encouraging. I'm sitting on about $9,000 in debt myself, from school and CCs. Was making pretty good progress with a monthly plan, set payments, etc... then the transmission on my (paid for) car went out. Ouch. Fixing the problem would've cost as much as what I paid for the car (3 years ago) so I decided it was time for a new - used - car. I was really frustrated for a while, but now I'm focusing on eliminating the $9,000 and accepting my car payments as something that will have to be part of my life for the next 4 years. I'll still get rid of the 9 grand, it'll just take a little while longer now.Keep posting the success stories!-Matt
"I was really frustrated for a while, but now I'm focusing on eliminating the $9,000 and accepting my car payments as something that will have to be part of my life for the next 4 years. I'll still get rid of the 9 grand, it'll just take a little while longer now."Matt,You've got the right perspective. You have a plan, but sometimes life sets you off track a bit. Don't worry, you've achieved the hardest part which is setting the goal. You'll get there before you know it, and we'll all be doing a dance for you. Congratulations and good luck!!!johnmoni
...I have another big debt to tackle next year. Any tips on how not to obsess or on how you cut costs?Hello LadyGreensleeves,Those sound like questions for the budget / LBYM boards, respectively, but I'll toss out my answer here.How Not to ObsessI let the cat out of the bag on the first part of your question. I think a little "obsessing" is a good thing. It takes discipline to stay on course, and it takes staying in touch with your finances to stay disciplined.My budget tracks income / expenses on a weekly basis. I take time at the end of each week to reconcile my recent expenses and plan for my future ones. I've found that a weekly granularity is just long enough to avoid worrying about my money every morning and night, and just short enough to keep me from losing track of my expenses before the bills come.How to Cut CostsThis is truly a question for the LBYM board. My generic approach has been to set aside money for known expenses first, then figure out where the rest of my money goes. When it's all in a list, it's not too tough to prioritize our expenses and figure out what can be cut back or eliminated. The list also helps us decide on a spending cap for the items on the list. That gives us an idea how much we should cut back.For example, we used to eat out a lot more, and we decided we could live without that, so we bring lunches and cook at home now. We also have a fair-sized DVD collection, and they're cheapest when you pre-order newly released movies online. We decided we'd rather not live without buying new movies, but we've cut back what we buy, and we shop around a lot more for deals.SpeleoFool.P.S. If I find I'm looking at my budget too often, sometimes I'll plan an evening "out" (walk in the park or something cheap/free) to force myself to enjoy life a little :)
Feel like I will never get there. Just getting started. My dream is to be off somewhere -- anywhere -- where I have the cash in my pocket and pay for everything with it. SIgh!!! Some day!Hi K8te!You will! I'll bet jthrelkeld thought the same thing $20,000 ago. ;)Yes, it does take discipline and determination, but it does happen, and OH! What a feeling it is when that time comes. Keep plugging away, and we'll be here to celebrate when your happy dance happens. : )Tony...but I still am...Off2Aruba
jthrelkeld,I am so darn impressed, I'm just about speechless. TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS-Paid Off!!!!Dance your socks off!!!!DAwn
Ahhh, my biggest weakness. I will go to ridiculous extremes to pay my bills down as long as I can still go out to eat. I just love it -- I can't help myself.LOL, Joe!There's no reason to deprive yourself of the treats in life when you're cutting down the debt, as long as you can...well, cut down the debt. ;)How much you cut out of your lifestyle depends on the level of debt, and the level of determination you want to apply. Those who have more debt would probably cut deeper than others, but I feel it's very important to keep some "treats" to look forward to.In your case, if you chose, you might cut down one meal out and put that money toward debt. However, if it works out that you skip the haircut or take the bus instead, that can work too. I think it comes down to the fact that just as no two people are identical, no two debt-reduction plans are going to be the same either. People have to do what works for them...as long as they do something. : )Hey...enjoy dinner! ; )Tony...but I still am...Off2Aruba
An e-high five to you - great job and great advice!Especially the one about STOP BUYING THINGS - could it really be that simple?I read a great quote the other day - TV shows you what you don't have, service reminds you what you do have.Instead of watching TV and all those great commercials that make you want to go out and buy stuff - volunteer in a soup kitchen once a week - it'll make your house a little warmer when you get home.
Thanks for the ideas. I will try and use them, especially the MM idea. I'm just going to have to figure out how to open one up so I can transfer funds to and from checking. Caple P.S. i accidentally added this to the penalty box and I'm trying how to figure out how to undo it.
"Instead of watching TV and all those great commercials that make you want to go out and buy stuff - volunteer in a soup kitchen once a week - it'll make your house a little warmer when you get home."Thanks for your excellent point. Any time I think I'm having a rough day, I think about the people trying to escape from Cuba in a rowboat, or the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, and realize that life in the USA is pretty darn good - we all have a lot to be thankful for.A related anecdote - my mother has first cousins in Poland. In the mid-'70's, when I was in high schoool, one of her cousins came to visit us - her first time out of Poland. Now we grew up comfortable in a typical middle class 3 bedroom home - with Mom, Dad, Grandma, and 4 kids, it occasionally seemed crowded. Not grand by any standard (especially compared to the huge homes being built today.) The first time her cousin walked through the home she asked, "Excuse me, does more than one family live in this house?" We found out that her entire family lived in a room about the size of our den.So, if we all think life is so tough . . . think again. Our problems pale in comparison to those encountered by most of the world's population.johnmoni
Great article!People often complain about credit card debt but aren't willing to suffer a little short-term and change their spendthrift ways.If you categorize your expenditures as needs vs. wants and minimize spending on the wants, you can pay off that debt quickly. The holiday season is the prime time that people build up debt. Instead of exchanging expensive gifts with your spouse (it all comes out of the same household funds available), why not pay down debt instead. You'll sleep much better with no credit card debt than you will with a gift that you could have done without!
Thank you,thank you.A fool's wisdom.
I was the sort of child who saved the artificially-colored grape half in my Del Monte fruit cocktail (the "cherry") for last. My mother would have to count these out to make sure my sister and I got the same number. Prevented fights. I'll believe that they're artificially colored (nothing in nature is that color) and I could even agree that it's not a cherry but there's no way the thing is a grape. The texture is all wrong.John :)
...I could even agree that it's not a cherry but there's no way the thing is a grape. The texture is all wrong.Well, maybe it's a scallop. That's even more disturbing than a colored grape. Blechh.
I am SOOO happy for you. We also sent out out last big payment to my last creditor (student loan). So we are also starting 2000 debt free. I am very excited for you and I can relate to how you must feel. I too have been in debt since I was about 19 or so, which was when i got suckered into getting the student Visa, and I could apply for all those wonderful store credit cards. Anyway, Congratulations and may you never have to go back there again. I'm just getting used to the feeling myself. I hardly know what to do now. In my mind I know I am going to invest and save and all, but just enjoying this moment of not owing anybody a darn thing is the most wonderfully freeing feeling! I can pay for things in cash now. And the incredible thing is that since I'm not sending my whole paycheck to some greedy creditor, I actually have money now. And I don't have that awful feeling anymore that I can't afford to do stuff or buy stuff because I am so in debt. Congrats again! WOO HOOO!!-paxdeo
BTW - I have a great recipe for curried chicken liver pate. Guaranteed to harden your arteries.Sounds sooo good Zippy! Would you mind posting this? If you'd like, you can also post it at the recipes/cooking board or privately email it to me (if you'd rather not put it here) Thanks. (And what is "deli creme"?)(I still remember the hunger pangs I got when someone on this board talked about how good red beans and rice was. Shoulda jumped on that one, too. Guess something about reading about credit card debt makes me hungry :o
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