No. of Recommendations: 6
I would definitely stop using either card for now.

Realizing the reality of a plastic culture:

1. Pay off the smaller balance one as soon as possible and then use that one for your monthly expenses. That way you can see if you are truly able to pay it off every month or if you just think you can.
2. Draw up a list of what is allowed to go on the monthly card. If you have a list, you're less likely to just randomly charge on it. I would make the list really, really short in the beginning so that it never feels like a stretch to pay it off each month.

For example your list might be:
a. airfare, hotels, and rental cars
b. out of town purchases when traveling
c. online purchases
d. large ticket repairs items until you can get home and transfer from the emergency fund (within 48 hours)
e. anything you are submitting to work for reimbursement

That's it. No quick cups of coffee, no dinners, no "oops I can't cover groceries until pay day".

$36,000 is a heck of a lot of "falling behind". People would be more willing to say "yeah, refinance and pay it off" if it was a one shot expense like medical bills or "I was out of work for 9 months but now have a steady job again" and not a continuous drip, drip, drip. Unfortunately for a lot of people months of gritting their teeth and cussing under their breath about "I can't believe how much money I'm throwing away in interest F***!" as they send in payments and live on bare bones is the only way they will change their behavior long term.

Lara Amber
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