Getting Out of Debt

Have you wandered over this way because you’re seeking tips on how to get out of debt? Good news! I’m all about debt management, if by management you mean managing to carry a high credit card balance from month to month without letting it completely overwhelm you because that’s been my existence for a year or more now. I’m not happy about it, I’m not proud of it, but I’m grateful that I’ve managed to not send my debt spiraling out of my control either through unfortunate circumstance or poor decision making (the latter is important because I’m spectacular at making poor decisions). I’ve made resolutions and promises to do better. I’m had good intentions and fist clenching moments of determination and every now a then the purchase of a lottery ticket in the hopes that it will “solve” my problems, but what I’ve never been really good at is having a fucking plan to make getting rid of my debt a reality.

I am ridiculously lucky to have a job that covers my basic needs and then some, which is what has allowed me to carry my debt so successfully but it hasn’t been without cost. I don’t have much of anything in savings because shit does happen that eats into savings and occasionally I don’t keep my debt managed as well as other months so it grows larger than comfortable so I throw pretty much all my extra money at it to bring it back down to “manageable” levels (which here means a balance I’m not completely freaked out to carry into the next month). It also hurts my credit score, sure it isn’t terrible, but it’s not great. It doesn’t matter terribly much today, but at some point I’m going to look into buying a car or house or something and my credit score will matter a whole hell of a lot more and it takes time to fix one you’ve messed up (we’re talking YEARS).

But I’m done. I am honestly and sincerely done with that because eventually I really need to look at what I want in life and what it takes to get it. I, of course, have my pie in the sky dream of a completely customized little farm that I can make a living on. More realistically I’d like a homestead that pays most of its own bills (for the homesteading part, I’ll continue working for the housing bit) where I can raise some animals and grow a garden. I’m not old, but I’m not young either and if this is something I want I need to start making it happen for myself and the first part is getting out of debt so I can actually save money. This is uncomfortable, but I’m actually going to disclose my debt to make myself clearly accountable to anyone reading this.

I have $6,500 in credit card debt.

There were a number of factors that play into this and I’m not going to lie, part of it is bad choices. I am taking steps to fix this and I’m making a plan to pay it all off in 18 months or less and I’ll definitely be updating about it here. My first step is closing my bank accounts and moving to a credit union which I’ve already got underway, I’m just waiting for my direct deposit to go through to the credit union and I’ll be able to close my bank accounts. To be able to pay off this debt in 18 months I’m going to have to pay at least $360 a month so my next financial update on April 4th is going to include a budget I’ll be sticking to. Where I can I’ll try to pay off more and I’ve started to save a bit of money as well; I know firsthand how an unexpected car repair or some other issue can come out of nowhere and destroy your finances.

There are arguably “good” and “bad” reasons to be in debt (necessary car repair vs buying that new gaming system you’ve been wanting as a personal insight into some of my debt), but even understanding that I’m not planning on giving up every luxury in life because I’m in debt unless the situation is dire and maybe not even then, because sometimes it’s those little pleasures that allow you to keep on the best path by reminding you that not everything is terrible. And to be clear, in my case nothing is terrible I’m talking broadly about the fact that just because someone is struggling financially does not mean they should live a life devoid of nice things or small luxuries that most of us take for granted (and no, I’m not talking about refrigerators Stuart Varney).

By making up a plan for getting out of debt with a timeline for completion and taking steps like making a clear budget I’m just stacking the deck in favor of actually succeeding in this long running goal of mine (It’s been on my New Year’s Resolutions in some form or another for the past two years). That’s also why I admitted my debt and why I’m going to keep updating about my progress here, because being held accountable in a public manner may be just the nudge I need to succeed.

So has anyone else been in debt? Was it hard to get out? Are you still working to get out of debt? What tips or techniques did you use/are you using?

I really would love to hear from others about this because struggling financially is often a silent and solitary burden and I’d like to at least offer an ear to anyone else.

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