Alright, so I have had credit card debt. And a lot of it. So today, I am going to share how I was able to get out of debt in a year and more scary…share the amount. It’s a lot.
Anyways, I have now realized that I have a shopping problem. I don’t ever by anything super nice or designer (if that was the case, my wardrobe would be amazing!) but I do shop a lot. I love to maximize my shopping. And I came to find out that I was doing it because it made me feel good. Retail therapy if you will.
I believe this story starts back in 2009. I had been going to a therapist and one day I remember sitting in his office and I said, “I have a shopping problem.” This was one of many revelations that came from therapy. So, when I get back home we are all headed up to my parents house for dinner. And I told my sister about my session (or she asked…I can’t remember). I ended up asking her for help. And that was the best thing that could have happened to us. Honestly.
She has always been the frugal one of the family. Never had credit card debt. Rarely had any debt at all except their house. They pay off cars very quickly. She is one of those people. I am not. At all. I have a hard time realizing that even though you buy things on credit, you have to pay them off each month. I still struggle with that, but more on that later.
So, I knew telling her that I needed help was a huge step. That night, we sat down at my moms computer and figured out all the debts I had. I was able to add up everything including all the interest I was paying on the cards and seeing it all added together was frightening. The number was somewhere in the $12,000 – $15,000 range. So, I had a big problem on my hands. Who has this much debt when they are 25?
What came of that was a collaboration and it was very difficult for me stick to. She took all my cards. I had 5 credit cards and a debit card. She took them all (including the debit card) and hid them from me. I was given a weekly allowance that I had to come to her house for (she cooked me dinner to entice me) and I was given my $80/week there. This $80 was spent on groceries and gas and going out if I had any left over for that…which rarely happened.
I don’t know if any of you have tried to buy groceries for $80/week, but that can be really hard. (I was not eating vegan at this time either, so I was buying meat.) Especially if you have to buy big ticket stuff like toilet paper, paper towels, or Tide. The Tide weeks were the worst. And then I had to buy cat litter and cat food too. The poor kitty can’t starve.
This made me drastically change what I cared about. I didn’t care about nice things anymore. This is also why I color my hair with box color. Because I couldn’t afford to go to a salon and pay $80+ for my hair every 8 weeks. That just wasn’t going to happen.
My sister also took control of my finances. She changed the log in’s to things so I couldn’t have access. I asked her to do this. I knew that I could buy things online that had all my CC information stored there (Amazon). This is also why I told her to take the cards and hide them. If I put them in my freezer, I would take them out and use them when I wanted to. If she put them in her freezer, I could go over there and get them out. So, I told her to take them because I knew what I was capable of.
With my financial freedom gone, I was able to pay down debts. We switched the highest interest cards (Loft and New York and Company) to the lowest interest card (Citi) which had a balance transfer of 0%. This allowed us to pay off the other highest cards first. By paying off the highest interest cards first as opposed to the highest balance, I feel like we were able to pay off the cards so much faster than if we did it the other way around. I guess that is up to personal preference.
We started in October of 2009 and when I got my tax refund money back in February, we used most of that to put towards the cards. With that extra help, we were able to get them paid off by November 2010. It was a struggle. My sister was strict and we had a few headbumps during the way, but we made it through. I was able to have my debit card back! YAH!
Since then, I have tried very hard to stay out of debt, but it has been a struggle as well. I currently don’t have a credit card in my possession because I can’t stop using them if I do. (It’s really sad actually, right?)
But I know that I don’t do well with credit cards, so I would rather just not have them available to me.
Some people are addicted to drugs or alcohol. I am addicted to shopping. I get urges that make me have to buy something and I don’t stop until I buy enough to satisfy it. It’s a constant battle with myself and now I have found lovely places like TJ Maxx and Ross to shop, and that helps my dollars (when I do want to shop) go much much further.
How did you get out of debt?