May 26, 2009

Dave Ramsey, that is, for today we mailed our last credit card payment. Once the check clears Friday we are credit card debt free!

It’s been such a long haul – almost two years, in fact. I remember the moment well: It was a hot Friday night in August 2007, and I was floating around the pool, tossing numbers around in my head. I guess you could say I then had what they call a “revelatory moment”. I had just finished paying the bills for that month and was amazed at having to pay 14 bills that day, the majority of them credit cards – three Chase, two Bank of America, Firestone, Shop NBC, Victoria’s Secret, Kohl’s, Citibank – you name ’em, we had ’em. After totalling up the numbers – I figured we owed somewhere around 60K or more – I think I finally just got tired of living life behind the 8-ball.

So what did I do? What any normal red-blooded American would do, of course: I asked my congressman to rail against those evil credit card banks on C-SPAN, then introduce a bill the President could sign to bail me out courtesy of the responsible credit card owners of America.

I’m kidding, of course.

But I remember distinctly trying to figure out our debt and how much we’d have to sacrifice in order to pay them off in two years’ time. To tell you the truth, I didn’t think we could do it. But we started hammering away – I remember distinctly writing down on paper a strategy to get our highest three cards totalling 42K all under 10K so we could at least lay out a plan – and God was good to us in keeping both of us employed and seeing Tracey’s income rise a bit through a couple of promotions. Eating out was terminated completely (except Friday night takeout from the local pizza joint), as well as mall and jewelry shopping on the cable channels. And not having a car payment made it a whole lot easier.

The final kicker was discovering Ramsey’s show on the Fox Business Network. He spoke a language we both now understood, and a message we embraced. We didn’t follow his methodology 100% – we never bothered with a formal budget, and we still gave abundantly to charities and the money pit called my sister-in-law (a topic for another time) – but otherwise we were disciplined and stuck to our plan. A white board on the wall in my office listed all the cards and the balances, and at the end of every month we logged our progress and slowly began to see the credit cards with balances listed in blue turn to green as they were paid off.

Once we got our three big cards down to below 10K, we started attacking the lower fruit and got what Dave calls a “snowball” going – you start with your smallest balance and work your way up; soon you really start having money to toss at the big kahunas. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel these past few months just made us all the hungrier to get things done.

And we’ve done it, almost three months ahead of time. Now it’s on to the next step: getting our savings account up to $5K, then attacking the last non-mortgage debt – a once-$40K loan we took out against a 403-B to purchase our house, now down to $28K. If all goes well, we’ll have that paid off as a Christmas present.

Folks, if once-reckless spenders and vacationers like us can do it, anyone can do it! And President Obama can find some other shills to help pay for every other irresponsible credit card owner out there, because the credit cards are out of our wallets and out of our lives, for good.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:29 | Comments (4)
4 Comments »
  1. Woooo Hoooo and congratulations. I have been to Dave’s presentations and have known about him for years. His method truly works. I am getting letters from my credit card companies…Advanta is closing all it’s accounts as its “trust” is no longer going to fund them. Go figure…it’s my business card and they have lowered the limit to my balance plus 500.00. Even Fed Express is lowering limits on accounts. It’s a mess all over this country with credit card debt. Mine is manageable and used mostly for online purchases for tickets for performances, on line purchases. I had 2 cards hacked into for a grand total of 4G…took months for my bank to reverse those charges. Now I have a security fee of 8.00 a month to watch activity. I would prefer to use my debit card for on line purchases but that just feels too vulnerable.
    I am so proud of you and Tracey…amazing comittment…just damn amazing. Time for a celebratory martini. Wish I were able to celebrate with you. I am growing mint for my Mojitos. I need to send photos of the latest garden project and redo. I have another baby pineapple growing this year…should be ready by Sept to be enjoyed..ahh, freshly picked pineapple.

    Comment by Jana — May 27, 2009 @ 5:09 am


  2. Thanks, Jana – good to hear from you and thanks for the update!

    Comment by The Great White Shank — May 27, 2009 @ 10:43 am


  3. Congratulations, GWS and Tracey. You’re in an envious position these days.

    Comment by Rob — May 28, 2009 @ 3:43 am


  4. Thanks Rob – we hope to treat ourselves to a long weekend in New Orleans (on the debit card, of course!) the last week in June. If you’re around we might just have to get together!

    Comment by The Great White Shank — May 28, 2009 @ 7:09 pm


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