Credit Cards and Debt

I am so anxious to pay these sons-of-bitches off. My credit card debt hangs over my head and weighs on my shoulders every day. With my Thailand trip, I actually did fall a little behind on my debt situation. But I made a bold move today. Here’s where I stand, actual numbers and everything…

I have about $6,650 total in credit card debt. Whew. Yikes. Some of it was necessitated by unfortunate circumstances and accidents. Some of it was self inflicted. Regardless, there it is. And I have learned my lesson.

I got an e-mail yesterday from my Chase Mastercard (my first card, from when I turned 18, and would forget to make payments occasionally). My credit limit has soared to $7,000. But the best news was that they lowered my rate. A LOT. Even after calling a couple months ago, my rate was at about 23%. It went down to 11.99%!! I am SO THRILLED! My highest balance, highest interest card, just became much less scary.

Here are my card stats now:

Chase Mastercard: 11.99% on a $2,450 balance
American Express: 16.49% on a $2,000 balance
Citi Mastercard: 8.74% on a $2,200 balance

I am trying very hardnot to get overwhelmed. I can do this, I know. Both my Amex and Citi cards started with 0% balance transfers that I told myself I’d pay off before that rate expired. Didn’t happen, obviously. But now I am making large monthly payments on all of these. Just 3 or 4 months ago, that Chase balance was a few pennies away from $3,000!!

I finally decided to take a leap and apply for another 0% balance transfer offer. Hopefully in a few weeks my Amex balance will be about $400 and I will have a Discover card with a $1,600 balance with 0% APR until April of 2009.

If I get approved and everything goes through (and I don’t anticipate any problems there- I may not have a lot of credit history, but what I do have is pretty good- I’m proud that my score hovers around 700.) then I will make minimum payments on that $1,600 balance until some of my bigger, interest accruing balances are less scary.

My plan right now:
Chase: $200-$250 per month
Amex: $100 per month
Citi: $100 per month
Discover: (I’m guessing around $30 – $50 per month)

I’m not counting on a tax return, but I think chances are high that I will get one. If I do, that will go towards my Amex, just to get it out of the way. Having at least one ZERO balance will help motivate me. Then I can put $50 more to my Chase and Citi cards.

I don’t have a head for math like I used to, but based on the calculators at http://www.bankrate.comI could be paid off in about 12-15 months. If I get a good tax return and stimulus check, I could achieve my goal even faster. I like my Chase and American Express cards, so I won’t be cancelling them. I think my Citi card will eventually be cancelled.

Other than my credit card debt, the only debt I carry is my car loan. It was a 27 month loan, and I’m not paying any extra towards it. My monthly payments are about $175. I have a fairly low rate (5 or 6%) and it should be paid off by summer of 2009.

My other monthly commitments are:
Cell phone bill ($70)
YMCA dues ($30)
Car Insurance (have I mentioned this is now only $110 a month?!)

David pays our rent and utilities.

I have an automatic $80 savings withdrawal.

Whats left is usually used for groceries and gas. It’s a really tight budget to live on, but it’s only temporary. We still do fun things like going out to eat or seeing a play or movies. We could cut even those things out, but that doesn’t seem like a fun existence and I have too much “carpe diem” in me to lose all of that.

Again, I wish I could just fast-forward through all of this. I have barely used my credit cards at all since Christmas. I’ve learned my lesson. And now I have to step up and pay the price. I can’t wait until I can check the box on my online bill payment screen that says “Pay balance in full”!!!

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7 Responses to “Credit Cards and Debt”

  1. whip1 Says:

    You were very smart to get such a short car loan. And smart to pay off those credit cards. Keep the fun things like movies and plays. You need a little money to blow through every once in a while so you don’t go on a binge.
    I am about to start working part-time and it’s pretty intimidating looking at the budget. Especially when you don’t have anything to pay off like credit cards but it’s just fixed life expenses (insurance, mortgage, electricity) that eat up everything. It sucks cuz you don’t have anything to work towards, those bills will always be there!

  2. Sierra Says:

    Good for you! The first step to tackling it is coming up with a plan that works.

  3. lara cheryl Says:

    Dear friend,

    Your blog is looking pretty good. We would like to have one post in your Blog. I will pay for the post. Can you help regarding this?

    Thanks
    Lara

  4. cristina Says:

    well, if you two are nice to me, i can put you on the pass list at the theatre and/or get you free popcorn. there are always exceptions of course, but i have guest allowances that i rarely use in full, so you mine as well take them.

  5. MK Says:

    your YMCA rates are pretty good. and here i thought that place was super expensive.

  6. tashamort Says:

    Yay Cristina! That would be awesome. And give us a good excuse to go see cool movies that only come to the Oriental.

    MK, my rates are good because I get an “under 25 discount.” Not to rub it in or anything.

  7. Erin Says:

    Ba dum dum ching! She burned you, MK.

    Credit card debt sucks, man. But good for you for making the conscious decision to pay it off once and for all. As you know, I’m right there with ya.

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