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My debt problems

Posted by jannie (My Page) on
Tue, Jan 31, 12 at 9:18

I got into serious trouble maxing out 5 different credit cards, a total of about $35,000. Yikes! I contacted each CC company, told them to close the card and asked what's the minimum I can repay to get rid of thos debt. All 5 payments total about $3000 a month. I figure the entire debt will be paid off by early 2014, less than 3 years. I checked my credit score and it's between 660 and 680, not terrible but not good either. My credit report shows I'm using 44% of my income (around $7000/month) towards the debt. That's too high. But my own calculations show I'll have it down to about 30 percent by next January, just one year from now. I used the debt calculator on Suze Orman's website to arrive at these conclusions. My younger daughter is following her mother's patterns. She has racked up about $5000 in CC debt. I gave her $500 cash at Christmas amnd she used all of it toward her ccs. I'm not asking for advice. Luckily my home is paid off (no mortgage) and we have a fairly new car, so I'm not in dire straits over this. Just a word of warning to anyone who uses CCs a lot. Don't fall ito the trap I did. Every time I got near my credit limit, the credit card company would raise the limit or send me blank "cash advance" checks. Bad for me.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: My debt problems

Since you've already closed the cards, it is a bit late for this, but others might benefit.

You didn't need to close the card. All you you needed to do was stop making new charges. That way, as you paid down your debt, your credit score would steadily improve. A good chunk of your credit score is your debt to credit ratio. If you eliminate debt will keeping the same credit limits, your score goes up. If you eliminate available credit, your score may actually go down even though you are paying off debt. Since you have a house and car already, that may issue for you, but it certainly can be for others.


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RE: My debt problems

Billl's advice is spot on, as usual!

However, that advice clearly would not have worked in jannie's case, as she doesn't have the discipline to NOT use her credit to the max.

Evidence: "Every time I got near my credit limit, the credit card company would raise the limit or send me blank "cash advance" checks. Bad for me."

Having all that available credit was too much temptation for her....


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RE: My debt problems

A question following the same theme. We have excellent credit but when checking our score, a comment from the credit bureau was that our credit score would be higher if we lowered our debt to credit ratio.

We don't understand this. We have multiple credit cards but only use one, which we pay off monthly. We never carry a balance. We have no other debt. The other credit cards, which appear are not used and haven't been for many years. Most are store cards we didn't close because we thought that would hurt our credit score. We have a few Visa and Mastercards which haven't been used in years.

We only use one card. So, how do we lower this ratio without formally closing out the cards?

Jane


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RE: My debt problems

Let me preface this my saying I'm not a credit expert (nor do I play one on TV). Unfortunately the credit bureau's make it very difficult for anyone to accurately determine how these scores are calculated or improve their score.

They may be talking about the ratio of debt to available credit. Remember that debt also include things like mortgages and car loans. So you could be paying off your credit card each month but still have a large mortgage payment. The answer then may be to increase your available credit.

They are also concerned about available credit relative to your income. Let's say you earn $20,000 per year but have $40,000 of available credit. If something happened, like losing you job, that available credit could be quickly eaten up without a means to repay it. Then it may make sense to close an older, unused, card.


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RE: My debt problems

Hey, guys, thanks for dumping on me and telling me everything I did "wrong". I really needed that! To be jumped on by a bunch of pompous bullies,right! I am now "sober" on debt. A lawyer advised me to stop paying all my bills and file bankruptcy. He also wanted a $700 retainer and $7000 fee for "helping" me.His bill was the first one I did not pay. Instead, I devised my own plan to get out of debt honestly. I also now have 2 new credit cards I am using to rebuild my credit. I use them for gasoline (I dont normally carry $55 in cash around with me). And for any small emergencies. I use those cards and I pay them off each month. Thanks for the thumping! Now go back to your cages! Next time pick on somebody bigger than yourselves!


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Gee, jannie...
I was just trying to point out that you did what was best for you.
Sorry that saying that was so offensive!


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"She doesn't have the discipline" does not mean "she's doing the best she can". At least not on my Home Planet. I will not be posting here anymore, the tone is too unfriendly.


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RE: My debt problems

"comment from the credit bureau was that our credit score would be higher if we lowered our debt to credit ratio. "

Well, they always comment on something. They are trying to sell you services, so they want to tell you what you can improve. Also, depending on when you pulled it, you might have had a balance on the card you use. That counts against you even if you always pay it off on time.

If you are actually concerned, the most common cause of this on a good credit score is that they picked up the balance but not the credit limit of one or more card. If you pull the detail, you can check to make sure everything is accurate and challenge anything that is not. All 3 agencies are HORRIBLE at keeping accurate records. The error rate is absurdly high.

"Hey, guys, thanks for dumping on me and telling me everything I did "wrong"."

Nobody dumped on you or called you a horrible person. We just pointed out how you could make your situation better. Most people appreciate not having to learn everything the hard way, but of course, you are always free to ignore any and all advice if you choose.


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"A lawyer advised me to stop paying all my bills and file bankruptcy. He also wanted a $700 retainer and $7000 fee for "helping" me. His bill was the first one I did not pay."

This really bugs me. What you did was not honest or honorable, and I think it was very low.

Sorry, you post your problems in a public forum, you should be prepared for what you get in return.


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""She doesn't have the discipline" does not mean "she's doing the best she can". At least not on my Home Planet. "

No, it doesn't on any planet.

It means that you don't have the discipline to keep open credit lines...
and you recognized that you do NOT, and you closed the cards.

I don't see that an unfriendly, just real.


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Jannie, it will take discipline to dig out of the hole you're in. Sometimes the heat needs to get turned up pretty high before people take action.
Clear back in 2007 you posted the following here on gardenweb:
"Posted by jannie (My Page) on Mon, Apr 16, 07 at 0:51 .... I plan to have my credit card balance down to zero within 16 months. And I'll have a hefty amount in my savings account by then also."

Did your plan work? Apparently not. Ditch the credit cards and only use cash. Prove to yourself that you can live on a budget within your means. You'll feel better about yourself and come out better in the long run.


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As far as the debit to credit ratio. I was hit by this last year on my car insurance. In checking with the rating agency the amount was 1.5% of my credit limit. Which on the day the checked which happened to be $1,800 on the day they checked. End result insurance was raised 5%.

For those that are paying off cards every month you should be aware that your balance is checked on any day not on the day after you make your payment. If you are unlucky your balance could be checked on the day of your highest balance or your lowest. They credit rating companies do not care if you pay the balance off every month just what it was on any given day.


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RE: My debt problems

Jannie - I thought this was a thoughtful discussion of YOUR post. No one slammed you (maybe sushipup - but I think s/he misunderstood). You are clearly very sensitive, so you may consider that if you post something, you may get a response you don't like.


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Have no idea what Jannies problem is except she might not want to hear the truth.

My credit/debit is probably due to too much available credit which is sitting on the unused cards. There are 4 Visa/Master cards with a combined available credit available over $100K. These were old cards which are still open but not used.

We are retired and our income is lower than it was back then, so I suppose it worries them. The only option would be to close all these cards including all the store cards. I'm afraid it could hurt our credit score. Our score was 740 but the statement said it could be higher except for the credit/debt ratio. We were always told to not close cards. So what does one do?

Jane (who is NOT 'Jannie')


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RE: My debt problems

I'm back, I just feel the need to clarify some things. I did not cheat or lie to the lawyer. I found this particular lawyer because he left a stack of his business cards in my local laundromat. He calls himself "Big Case Attorney". The card said "Free initial visit". So we got together ONCE for a brief meeting. I told him my situation . I made it clear I did not want to file bankruptcy. I thgought he could negotiate either lower interest rates or forgiveness of part of the debts. He said "Fine, I'll get your credit reports and get back to you in a few days. " A few days passed, then two weeks. I figured he didn't want to be bothered , my case wasn't "big" enough. I phoned him , trying to be friendly. He said "I can't get you out of any of this debt. You should file for bankruptcy. If you insist, I'll represent you but I require a $700 retainer now and a full fee of $7000. I thanked him and said, but I don't want to file bancruptcy, so I guess I won't need your services after all. He never sent a bill, never contacted me again. I recently saw another stack of his cards in a Chinese take-out restaurant, so I assume he's still handling all his "big cases". I don't feel anything I did was "low." Yes, I have a weak character, I borrowed a lot of money without collateral and couldn't pay it back. that's why I closed /cancelled all the cards and am now on a budget to pay back every cent by September 2014. I will post again at that time. Oh, and one final thing, I don't give a darn what my FICO credit scores are. I deal only in cash these days. If I can't afford it now, I do without or save until I have enough. These are my last words until 2014. Think what you want of me. Sticks and stones will break my bones, you know the rest. I'm sorry I posted my personal problems here. If you notice in my original post I said "I'm not looking for advice." I was hoping somebody would say. "You go ,girl" "You recognize you made mistakes." "Keep trying." "It can be done." "I have been there myself". You know, something supportive or even friendly.


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I apologize, I did indeed misunderstand.


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We started the Dave Ramsey plan last year, we were 16,000 in debt(8,000cc due to medical bills, 8,000 car loan) (which isn't toooo bad, but it's still not good). Our solution was to take out a personal loan and pay off the CC with a much lower interest rate, that helped us out. I was always taught NOT to close your CC accounts if you have a balance on them, it goes negatively toward your credit score. Our other solution was buy a computer program to make a detailed budget for one year at a time, we have limited our spending. After the money alloted for groceries that week is spent, it's spent, pantry is empty? Better open a can of spam to get by. By monitoring and controlling our spending we'll have 3 yrs worth of payments paid off by this December. I love to shop, love to spend money and had an addiction to it. Those first few months of telling myself no was VERY hard, I passed up some great store deals that still bug me today :) You just gotta tell yourself "no" sometimes, most people don't possess self control anymore and the CC companies use that to their advantage. The stress of being broke was not worth the nice new area rug that I charged to my CC, we chose that being happy and living smaller was more important than having everything and being stressed. It's not easy but hopefully you'll figure out a system that works for you :) I know many people who filed bankruptcy, it's a quick fix but comes back to bite you in the rear end down the road. Wish you the best of luck and hopefully some of the things that worked for us might be an option to help you!


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"Oh, and one final thing, I don't give a darn what my FICO credit scores are. I deal only in cash these days. "

If FICO scores only impacted your ability to borrow more money, then you would be doing the right thing. However, they have become much more important that that. Just about every insurance company uses them to set premiums. Lots and lots of employers use them as screening tools. Unnecessarily lowering your FICO scores is just a bad idea.

And, if you are still following, you should contact the NFCC for no or low cost credit counseling in your area. If you have $3,000 per month to pay down $35,000 in debt, they will be able to show you how to do it way less time then you are talking about. Even at 20% interest you should have this paid off in 14 months.

Anyone looking for some ra-ra pay down your debts cheerleading should check out Dave Ramsey. That is his schtick and he is pretty good at it.


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RE: My debt problems

Good on you for not declaring bankruptcy.
We all end up paying for it in the end...


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Using credit is, indeed, all too easy in our world today.

Billl's recent post is good advice. Although a recent court ruling has dampened employers' enthusiasm for checking the credit scores on new employees, it is still being done and you never really know what might happen in your life to upset your plans. Almost all insurers, for example, now check the credit score on new applicants.

I hope that jane_ny saw the thread I posted on credit scores and clicked on the link to read the full article. It's an excellent primer for understanding what affects your credit score both positively and negatively.

Sometimes the only way to handle one's finances successfully is to 'trick' oneself. We have a hard time saving money, for example, so years ago I finally set it up to be automatically deducted and sent to two different accounts, one of which is on-line so it takes a few days to transfer funds. It's interesting how even that slight delay would make me think and hesitate.

If we made financial education mandatory, a good part of the curriculum would involve learning how to use credit wisely, to begin with.


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RE: My debt problems

""She doesn't have the discipline" does not mean "she's doing the best she can". At least not on my Home Planet. I will not be posting here anymore, the tone is too unfriendly."

Your right Jannie, some folks are known around here for dumping on others and then pretending they don't know how they sound.....

I applaud your efforts to rein in your debt. At least you own your house and aren't relying on a clunker to get to your job.

Best wishes going forward in managing your money.


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RE: My debt problems

Having a relative that has gone thru bankruptcy several times and still struggling I know that sometimes advice or suggestions can be a bit on the difficult. Personally I did not see anything real negative on the postings, and believe me I have been thru some real trials here. Sometimes when I have been under pressure and asked for help/ideas, I don't always interpret the messages the way they were meant to be and I know I do not use words to the best of my ability. I just say a quick prayer that I accept the suggestions offered to help me out, and maybe just don't post for awhile. Since most of us will never meet others we cannot judge what they are really alike. There is a very few here I just don't plain don't like, so I have to really avoid even posting on their sites. But that is me.
Just sending you hugs and hope you have a great coming year.
Marie


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RE: My debt problems

Jannie, I think the reason you didn't get the response you had hoped for is that you haven't done anything other than create a plan. As the saying goes, words are not deeds. Maybe you could turn this group around by reporting every 3 months - or even every month - on your progress towards paying down your debt.


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RE: My debt problems

Jannie-
I think what confused a lot of us is the line-
A lawyer advised me to stop paying all my bills and file bankruptcy. He also wanted a $700 retainer and $7000 fee for "helping" me. His bill was the first one I did not pay.
The way I read this is that you filed bankruptcy and then stiffed the lawyer.
I give you a lot of credit for not skipping out on your bills and setting up a plan.
Stick to it and you will be fine!


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I think the biggest problem with your post, sushipup, wasn't so much what you said, but the way you said it. Most people don't respond well to having their affairs discussed in the third person by others on a public forum who aren't addressing them directly. You might have instead phrased your statement along the lines of "Billl's advice is spot on for someone who can resist the temptation to max out all their CCs, etc, etc, but not everyone can do that."


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Dave Ramsey's plan helped me get out of cc debt quickly. I did what I saw on Oprah's Debt Diet at the time. I called the cc company and asked them to lower my interest rate. It was 11%, I think. They agreed to lower it to 8% since I had never been late with a payment, as long as I agreed to close the account. That's what I did, and I paid the two cards off in a year. I don't use credit cards anymore.

It sounds like you are making changes. Having your home paid off is excellent. If you can cut your spending in half, you will get out of debt quickly. There are many blogs on simple living that are helpful.

I thought that you meant that you weren't going to pay the lawyer, too. For some people, credit cards are like alcohol. When I had cc debt, it seemed like everything I had kept breaking: my car, my appliances, etc...Now I see how stressed I was by spending more than I was making. (My home was paid off, when I was in debt,too.) Once I started tracking my expenses and writing down concrete financial goals, I was able to turn it all around. Money is very emotional and psychological. Reading books about how people survived the Great Depression helped me, too. Good luck!


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The first CC I got in my name alone was a high limit. I traveled to 3rd world countries and like to know I could pay for any emergency that cropped up. I have had that same card and pay it off when I get my bill. All of a sudden they raised my limit $5,000. and they have never earned a dime off of me except once when I forgot to pay my bill, there were penalties for that. I only had one CC as a young adult, Sears and only used it for emergencies. Now I charge everything over $15 or $20. It is an easy and fast way to shop.


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Just me, Jannie, the Original Poster, checking in to let you know I am making some progress.It's been six months since I came face-to-face with my horrible dent. Yesterday I mailed off my last check to the Discover credit card company, and in December I will be done paying off a large dentist bill. I am making payments on all my debts and will be completely paid off by January 2014. I am aware my credit score is probably shot to heck but I'm at least on track to get everything paid off.I'll post again next February.


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Woohoo! Way to go, Jannie!


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Good job.

I can tell you from experience I is a great feeling every time pay one off and even better when you pay off the last one!

Barb


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RE: My debt problems

As I pay off each credit card, I'm adding the money to other cards. I didn't do a serious analysis on this, arranging the debts according to their interest rates, but it is good to see all of the balances going down. Thanks for the kind words and encouragement.


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Good going.. AS long as you don't miss minimum payments on all your bills - your credit score should shoot up considerably.
Late payments is a bigger negative on credit score vs. just having a lot of debt.


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Jannie's got a gun... whole worlds come undone...

I got into the credit card trap twice so I know how it goes. At one time I had 14 cards. I constantly did balance transfers to avoid interest or I opened up new cards with 0% for 6-12 months.

First time around I owed about 7,000 (this is when I was about 18 years old) I sold my Audi that was paid off and paid all my debt off (boy was that a mistake)�

A couple of years later I was back in the same boat, only this time I owed 12,000 (I was about 21) and I didn�t have a nice car to sell to then pay off my debt.

I started "debt stacking" which is where you line up all your credit cards, see which ones have the higher interest rates and fees, etc. You then make the min. payment on all but one. The one you're not making the min. payment on is the card you pay what you can afford/the most money. Once that card is paid off then you pull the next card up and pay more (meanwhile, only paying the min. due on the others). I quickly knocked out about 5 cards and then about 14 months later I was debt free. Every paycheck I got went to credit card payments (which means crap I bought the year before).

Today, at 26 years old, I only have 4 credit cards and only use 1. I pay off my card every month and I almost "fear" going back in debt.

Through all my debt, I NEVER missed one payment, never paid less than the min. amount due, and barely paid ANY interest (maybe $250.. which isn't bad on about $10,000). I don't want to brag and say I played the game (because the credit cards were playing me). I did maintain a high credit score and still do today - 750.

My advice has always been-
NO MATTER WHAT- NEVER (and I mean NEVER) miss the payment due date. THERE IS NO EXCUSE!
&&&&&&
NEVER pay less than the min. amount due!

Those 2 things above can ruin your score in a matter of one month. Don't give me excuses. If you can mail in your payment by the due date and come up with the min. payment then that is your fault!


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I use online banking and have payments automatically sent to the banks. Haven't had any late payments in years! And considering that January 2014 is my full pay-off, it's reasonable for me to stick to the schedule. I did get my credit report (free once a year thanks to AnnualCreditReport) and saw some past years where I was 30 or 60 days late. At least there's a light at the end of the tunnel for me. And I'm certainly old enough to know better. I'm gonna be 60 soon.


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Looking back, my original posts included a very bad attempt at humor, when I said I didn't pay my lawyer for his advice. Well, if I had enough to pay his fee of $7000, I certainly would have used it to pay off the credit cards.I apologize for being so sensitive. Oh,lord,please don't let me be misunderstood.


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Jannie, congratulations! My niece got into a credit card "situation" let's call it while a college student. (I'm so old the card companies required a parent to be co-signer and the card was basically for "emergency only" events. I remember when a store cashier would have to flip through a paper book to make sure the credit card number wasn't on the bad list. Anybody else old enough to remember those days?.) She's now in her late 20s and totally debt free. Again, congrats. It's good to hear some good news from people these days. Best wishes.


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I have to post this "update". Now that I'm on track to pay off my credit card debts, I'm starting to get "Pre-Approved" credit card offers in the mail. Hmmmph! Well, more stuff to get shredded and put in the trash!


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Good - means your credit score is improving under your efforts. Think of it as a sign of success. Congrats!


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If you're in the US, there's a phone number printed on the offers that you can call that will stop credit card and insurance offers from coming for a few years at a stretch. I did it year or two ago, and the only ones I now receive are the ones associated with frequent flyer miles. I'm guessing that the miles-and-credit cards must have some sort of loophole... but I receive so many fewer offers overall that I still think it's worth it.

The FTC has a site about opting out of credit card offers and other things.

Here is a link that might be useful: FTC opt out


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I think the loophole is if you are an existing customer (elite member of a hotel, car or airline) it is a targeted solicitation.
The # will opt out of any unsolicited credit offers which reduces mail tremendously.


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This thread just reminded me to call my CC's to opt out of those blank checks I get from my CC companies. I never use them, but now I'm gone now for months so they sit in my mail box, it is locked but still...


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It's me, Jannie, the Original Poster, with good news to report. Last winter I paid off in full my first credit card, a Discover card. I will pay off Cards 2 and 3 this August, a fourth in October and my final CC debt will be paid off next May. My FICO score may be shot to heck, but I am satisfied with my real progress on this issue. I am not asking for feedback or comments. I answer only to myself and God.

This post was edited by jannie on Tue, Sep 17, 13 at 9:59


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Sorry, but a comment is due you.... Woohoo, way to go Jannie!
You have made great progress over this past year.


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Jannie, I salute you!


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Great Job Jannie!!!

Doesn't it feel good when you pay off a card. I can tell you that it feels 10 times better when you pay off the last one.

When I did it, I just kept saying over and over "Holy Moly, we did it!".

And I am SO glad we did now, because I have been unemployed since March. Not having all that debt has enabled us to stay afloat without my paycheck.


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Congratulations!!!

Now cut up all your cards! You don't need a credit card for gas, use your debit card.

When all is said and done you will feel a genuine freedom you haven't felt in years.

Cash is still king.


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I'm really excited reading this. Wow. Great!! yippee! You go girl!!!

I paid off bunches of debt when I was really in over my head so I know how great it feels to free yourself of it, and how tough it can be to not go shopping for so long,

For support - I do find the Dave Ramsey podcasts very motivating. I like him a lot - and I'm Jewish!! I don't mind religious folks if they walk the walk, and I think he does. I think his ideas translate to any spiritual view.

I tried getting involved in his discussion boards but I didn't like them as much as the podcasts.

One thing about the credit score stuff, I recommend you use the free credit report online to look at the reports and make sure they are accurate. You will be shocked at how bad they are. You've worked hard to pay down debt, you should make sure the credit card companies are reporting you accurately.


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Congratulations, Jannie! I'm very happy for you.

(Sorry that you're uncomfortable typing the word "God". How come?).


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Regarding God, I have been on some websites where "certain" words are forbidden. On one, I typed in the four-letter word "Lazy" and got thrown off the site. I was afraid GW might have some restrictions on religious words, as this is not "Hot Topics'" where "Anything goes". By the way, thanks for the encouragement and kind words. It is now "fun" for me to watch as my debts go down. Macy's VISA got paid off just last week, Citibank will be done in December.


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Congratulations on your successes to date, Jannie.

Dad used to say that sometimes we should let people's comments roll off of us, like water off of a duck's back, when we feel them to be inaccurate or out of line.

I feel that it's my job to be in charge of my own life, and, while I should listen to criticism and consider it carefully as to whether there may be some justification in it, to not let it get me all bent out of shape.

Also, when we deal with bullies, they get enjoyment out of getting a rise out of us ... and I'll be darned if I'm going to contribute to their enjoyment!

I hope that you made the first payments to the card that was charging the highest rate of interest.

Good wishes for continued success.

ole joyful


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Good for you doesn't seem enough for what you have accomplished. Keep up the good work. Life will be a lot move pleasant/fun when you finished. Even now you must feel great.


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November 2013 I paid off yet another credit card. I still have two CCs left, but they are not huge balances and they'll be paid off in 2014.It's actually pleasant seeing the balances go down. I am using the money I used to use to pay off credit cards for Christmas presents this year. I'm not going overboard.


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Wow, you are doing great! Continued success to you...


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Good for you on your continued success!

A friend of ours also had credit score/debt issues. Her partner took a firm hand with the budget, got all the overdue and back payments handled, then systematically worked on paying off the cards (while also building an emergency fund and a "for fun" fund).

They were exceedingly shocked when they went to buy a much-needed second vehicle (they commute in different directions every day) and found her once-terrible credit score of 450 had risen to a now-respectable 720 in less than four years!

Like you, they found that discipline really pays off and lessens an unseen, but heavy, emotional burden that debt carries.


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Boy I know about the emotional burden. For years, I hid our mounting debt from my husband. I'd wake up at night worrying about credit cards. Yet I continued using them. At first it was only for Christmas gifts and vacations. Then I started charging gasoline and groceries. I was making payments all along, but falling deeper and deeper in debt. I consulted a lawyer but decided against his recommendation to file bankruptcy.The hardest part was being honest and admitting everything to myself, my husband, and the banks and credit card companies. I had to admit I was deeply in debt, badly over my head, and needed to stop spending and charging. I have been faithfully paying off all my credit cards for nearly three years and it will still take several more months to get rid of the last couple. My credit cards will be completely paid off in 2014, also a home equity loan and car loan. I'll post when all my debts are gone. By the way, I hate looking at this whole post. It just reminds me of how stupid I was about money in the past, and it reminds me not to share sensitive personal information on line.

This post was edited by jannie on Sun, Feb 16, 14 at 12:06


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