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Credit card debt is something a lot of people have these days. People don’t want to talk about it. And when they do, it ends up with people shaming others for having credit card debt.
You were irresponsible. Living beyond your means. Don’t buy what you can’t pay cash for. Those are the things people in debt hear. How is that helpful? It’s not. Chances are someone who is researching how to get out of debt knows those things OR if you are like me, you fell on some hard times and used credit cards to live.
Whatever reason you have for your credit card debt, it doesnt matter. What I want to do though, is actually help you get out of it WITHOUT the “debt snowball method”, which I swear was the only method I even found while trying to get out of debt. I get it, that method works, But what if you don’t have all that money to just throw your debt? Then What?
I had three separate credit cards. I got one to try to pay off the other (it was literally advertised as that). Instead, it payed off a little bit of that card and then accumulated its own interest while the first card was still accumulating its own interest. The other card I had was for emergencies. I ended up getting laid off from my job of 7 years and had to use it.
So I was laid off, with 3 credit cards and no money to pay them. I was making payments but reaching a point that I could no longer do that. Then I found a job, but making way less than what I was making before. I had to figure something out. I prayed on it HARD. and then it all hit me. Tons of little ideas. I put them all into place and it came together. I was making big payments on each card (which by the time I could make the payments, I had actually fallen behind and had to catch up.)
Is my method for everybody? Probably not. But you should at least consider some of it and see what you can pull off.
Here is what I did to pay off $15000 in credit card debt
Got Another Bank Account
I needed to find a way to seperate my credit card money and payments from my everyday expenses. Its easy to spend money when you have money.
The extra bank account is new. Its something I had to trick myself into thinking it’s something I don’t “really” have. It’s off limits. I went with a Chime account. They don’t have a physical location like most banks, which made it hard for me to go take money out (you can still deposit and withdraw at certain locations). They did sent me a bank card, but I put it somewhere that I would easily forget about it.
Every side hustle, or extra bit of money I make goes into this account. If I sold something, all I had to do was take the card and the cash to Walgreens or Walmart and ask them to load it onto my card. That way, I didn’t get used to having any extra money. It was like I never got it.
I also set my direct deposit check up to take so much out every check and put it into this account. I started with $20, then $50, then $100. So I basically weaned myself down on spending money. I did still have some, but it wasn’t a hard hit on me because I got myself used to having less free money.
Called My Credit Card Companies
Calling your card companies is detrimental. Its a tough step, because you don’t want to feel bad. You don’t want to be shamed, but those companies may have programs to help you. Explain your situation to them, reguardless of what that might be. If the person you talk to doesnt want to help, hang up and call again. call the next day. call the next week. Someone there is going to eventually help you in some way rather it be big or small.
We are in the midst of a pandemic. the cost of things have increased and a lot of people are out of work. Now is the time (and I hate to say it) take advantage of it all. Get them to work with you. Tell them you have a plan in place. Tell them you aren’t going to be able to make payments at the rate you are going. Threatening to stop payments on your cards all together is a last ditch thing. If they refuse to help you, chances are if you tell them you can’t pay, they are going to work with you. Something is better than nothing, right?
So I kind of used the snowball method, but not really. I had one card company that refused to work with me AT ALL. that is the one I paid off first. I made bigger payments to them, while the other two cards actually had me on a plan where I was paying significantly less. Once The card that was being stupid was paid off, I rolled that into the other two.
Then I payed the one with the highest payments off. And then finally the last one. But, I didn’t stop there. I was already in the habit of putting all this money back. I payed the balance of my car off, and created a little emergency fund as well.
Now, this didn’t happen over night. It took me almost 2 years to get to this point. But I am hoping this is some good motivation for you!
My side hustles were my saving grace. In every bit of free time I had, I worked my side hustles. I ran this blog, sold Scentsy, and worked for multiple survey companies.
If you want to knock down debt fast, you are going to need to pull in money from other sources, on top of your actual income.
Blogging For Money
At the time I started my journey into paying off credit card debt, my blog was bringing in MAYBE $200 a month. I knew it had potential to make good money, but I wasn’t taking it seriously. Once I got determined to pay off my debt I spent all of my time trying to build up this blog so that it could at the very least, make my minimum card payments.
It payed off.
I got to where I was making up to 3 blog posts a week and consistently pinning on pinterest. My affiliates were bringing me in about $1200 a month, and with the increased traffic, the adds were bringing another $500. All of which, I was depositing straight into my Chime account and then splitting up between credit cards.
I didn’t stop there
Even though my blog was making good money, I still worked on my couponing, free stuff, and surveys (check out my post on that). When I was in the early stages of increasing my blog traffic and affiliate marketing, I used some reputable survey companies to bring in an extra $30-$50 a week. Not nearly as much as my blog, but, if you commit more time to it, I am sure that you can make decent money and use surveys alone to help pay down your debt.
Check out my list of side hustles for more ideas of how you can bring in that extra cash!
Save Money Where You Can
My main concern with paying off my debt was going without things. I did not want to take away from my family for my stupid credit cards. So I dug deep into our monthly expenses and looked to save any money I could, and then swing what I saved into my Chime account as well. My theory was that I was already used to not having it, I wasn’t going to miss it.
I called our cable company and negotiated our bill from $120 a month to $60! I simply stated that I have been a loyal customer for many years and it seemed like new customers were getting the best deals. We kept our same package, but saved $60. So then I went to my primary bank account and set it up to automatically transfer $60 a month into my Chime account.
Now, this isn’t going to work with your electric bill, although I wish it would. But, if you have bills like this, its worth giving them a call and seeing what you can save.
A piggy bank is something only kids keep right? Nope. People look at saving change as what kids or poor people do. But they don’t understand how much it adds up. If you pay cash for things, instead of digging around your pockets to pay the exact amount, go ahead and break that dollar. When you get home, empty all change out into a big jar. With it being change, you aren’t as liable to spend it. When the jar is full, cash it in. I have this jar. We filled it in about 3 months. It added up to $257! Which of course, went right into my Chime account, and then payed off some debt!
Makes you think twice about passing up that dime in the grocery store parking lot right?
Coupons And Freebies
Using coupons can save you so much money. And the more money you save, the more you can add to paying off your credit cards. I know, a few cents here and there doesn’t seem like a lot, but it adds up.
I know you don’t want to walk up to the cash register with 100 coupons. Good thing we have technology. While I still use paper coupons from coupons.com and from receiving free product tests, most of my coupons come from apps and coupon codes.
What places do you frequent? Do they have an app? Chances are, they do. Places like Mcdonalds, Kroger, and target let you use coupons right from your phone. Kroger is probably my favorite. You can go to their website and download all of your coupons to your reward card before you even step foot in the store.
Never, EVER, buy something online without at least checking for a coupon code. I check Retailmenot before every purchase I make online. If there isn’t a coupon code there, I google the site I am on with coupon code behind it. I have saved mad money doing this.
Make money from buying your usual stuff. No. I’m serious. Ibotta, Checkout 51, and receipt hog allow you to scan your grocery receipts to earn money back.
Freebies and product testing
Getting free products can keep you from buying certain products. I have done tons of product testing for deodorant, food, diapers. You name it. Of course, the more free stuff I get, the less I buy. Check out my post on how to get free products for more information.
Refinance or Loan
If you are in the place where you can refinance your home or car, that is another option you have As long as the interest is low and it doesn’t make your payment go up so high that you can’t pay it. I did explore this option, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me. Our home had the equity in it, but we still couldn’t get the bank to let us access that.
Personal loans are another option, but chances are, if you are like me, your credit is pretty used up and you aren’t going to be able to secure one reasonably. A personal loan would be an awesome way to get all your cards into one payment though, it it happens to be an option for you.
So, What If I Don’t Pay
A big question I kept looking into and asking was, what would happen if I didn’t pay off this credit card debt and stopped making payments. Could they take my house? My car?
Unsecured debt is just that. There isn’t anything linking it to any of your assets. Card companies can’t take your home.
Here is what they can and most likely will do though.
They will start calling you. Every day. 3, 4, 5 times a day. Eventually, they will start reporting you to the credit burros. Your credit score will go down. Eventually they will send your debt to collections, and or take you to court. If you get to the court part, SHOW UP IN COURT. If the card company doesn’t send a representative, its thrown out. If they do, fight your case. Worst case scenario is they will garnish your wages, or make you make reasonable payments.
Why did you need this information? Because I know its in the back of your mind. I know you are scared. Don’t be. This kind of thing happens, and this is the worst that can happen from it. Do what you can. Pay what you can and don’t stress about it.
Most Important Thing To Remember When Paying Off Credit Card Debt
Being in debt and starting on your path to paying it off can be really tough on a person. Make sure you take time to clear your mind and take care of yourself. Debt is scary, but it isn’t the end of the world. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I ended up in deep depression on top of my anxiety because of my debt. Don’t be like me. Start working and planning on your way out and find ease in the hope that this is going to get better.
It will be okay!