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October 8th, 2020 at 06:44 pm

We have a lot of debt. We have a mortgage, a 401K loan, a solar loan, and one ginormous credit card.

The credit card is the one that stresses me out the most and keeps me up at night. We have been credit card debt free only two times in our adult life and both times we paid off our debt with an unexpected windfall and both times we vowed never to go back into credit card debt. Yet, here we are.

We took out a 401K loan to help us buy a house about 3 1/2 years ago. It is a 5 year loan and we have about 18 months left to pay on it. It is automatically deducted every paycheck.

After having $725 utility bills in our new (to us) home, we decided to get solar. We took out a 10 year loan and are 2 years in, so 8 to go, before that is paid off. That is also on auto pay, but we are hoping to pay if off a little early.

We don't currently have any auto loans, but I don't know how long that is going to last. My car is almost 11 years old with 160,000 and The Husband's car is almost 6 years old with 93,000. Added to that we added a driver this year and plan to add another one next year.

Our most stressful debt to me is our credit card. We have $13,000 in credit card debt. This is actually an improvement. In January we owed $21,000 so we are making progress. Our goal was to have less than $10,000 in credit card debt by the end of this year. I don't know if we are going to make it, but we have made decent progress. This time getting out of debt we have actually been digging our way out one month and payment at a time. In the past, we used "windfalls" to get out of debt. I'm hoping it sticks this time because we are actually putting in the work.

11 Responses to “Debt”

  1. crazyliblady Says:

    I empathize with your situation, as I have been there a couple of times. You can do whatever you want, but my suggestions would the following:

    1. Look at all your monthly bills (landline phone, cell phone, gas bill, trash bill, car insurance, etc.) and find out if there is any way to lower them by going to a different company, a lower level of service, etc. For non-electric bills, is it possible to get on a level payment plan? Remember to pay for basics first: house payment, utilities, food, and gas for your car(s).

    2. After #1, create a budget based on your expenses. Use bank statements, receipts, etc. to establish the amounts, not just memory. The first month or so will be rough, because you may "discover" other expenses you forgot about. I personally have my real budget on my computer, but I keep a skeleton version of it on an index card in my wallet. I make notes when I have bought something in a category. It helps me to know if can afford to buy something or not.

    3. Establish an emergency savings account if you don't already have one. Part of your budget should be to put something in there every time you get paid, even if it is only $5.00.

    4. List your debts with minimum payment amount and interest rate. If you are behind on any debt payments or any other payments, bring those to current first. I personally like to make the high interest ones a priority, but others advocate for the highest balance. Either way, you make progress. Any extra funds I throw at the priority debt.

    5. Make a grocery list and stick to it. Try to create some meals based on what you already have in your fridge and cupboards. Stow the savings into a savings account or throw it at debt.

    6. Do you qualify for refinancing your mortgage?

    7. I have 8 sinking funds for the irregular expenses that occur, such as property tax, car registration, home maintenance, appliances, etc.

    8. Can you get any kind of extra work and throw the money at your debt?

    These are just a few of my thoughts. Take them or leave them. Others may have additional ideas.

  2. Lots of Ideas Says:

    I agree with everything crazyliblady said. I also suggest the following:

    - decide and communicate now that this is a low spend/no spend holiday season. No big gifts. Practical, needed items if you must. Give gifts of time, or write heartfelt notes, share beloved books or other items you have that someone else might enjoy. Tell friends and family now. Will keep you out of stores in the time of covid...and save money.

    - while looking for things to give, look for things to sell. Or give away. Or use up. De clutter and organize so you know what you have. Set a goal of one drawer or cupboard per day, or two hours every Saturday, or whatever. Doing it in small chunks will inspire you.

    - if you are eating takeout regularly, cut the number of times in half. Have breakfast for dinner one night per week. Clean out your refrigerator, then make a goal to have no food waste

    - replace any soft drinks or fancy coffee you are drinking with tap water/home brewed tea or coffee. Buy a Britain’s filter and locate reusable water bottles to stop buying water if you need to. Stop buying single serve snacks at convenience stores. Carry snacks you buy in bulk, single size or not.

    Good luck and best wishes!

  3. terri77 Says:

    It is very impressive that you’ve gone from $21k to $13k in just this year. You’ll have that paid off in no time if you continue on this course! I would go over every budget category with a fine-tooth comb. Food is a category that often can be cut, usually by more meal planning & less eating out.

  4. Turtle Lover Says:

    this is where I would give a "thumbs up" I don't really have anything to add but I think coming here helped me stay on track so "thumbs up" to you for posting :-)

  5. Petunia 100 Says:

    Welcome to Saving Advice. I am looking forward to reading more. Best of luck to you with your goals. Smile

  6. CB in the City Says:

    I see two red flags -- borrowing from a 401K, and investing in solar. I'm not saying that either one was a bad idea, but I'm guessing that's how your credit card debt got out of hand, using plastic for everyday living because you have so much going to these investments. I think you have to bite the bullet now and seriously downgrade your spending so you can get rid of the CC debt. You say you are doing the work, so I am hopeful you take care of it soon!

  7. LuckyRobin Says:

    I would not even consider the idea of new cars any time soon. 160,000 is not that much mileage in this day and age of improved auto engine longevity and 93,000 is a drop in the bucket. We are still going strong on a 2007 pickup and a 2011 van, with no plans to change them as they are paid for. We just maintain them well. It is much cheaper than a car payment. Focus on getting the credit card debt paid off, then decide which debt you will tackle next. Get those paid off and then start saving cash for a car. Your cars should last several more years. You can do this if you are serious about getting out of debt.

  8. mumof2 Says:

    it looks like you are paying off roughly $1000pm on the credit just over a year and it will be gone...if you know that you want to use them then just cancel them and don't have won't be tempted if you can only spend the money you have!! The cars are no problem that isn't bad mileage and I think if they are taken care of they should last a few more years at least..I would suggest like others have

    write up a budget....and stick to it...have everything in it

    Have an emergency fund a good starting point is $2000

    menu plan and only shop for those things...cook from scratch more you can prepare meals and freeze them...etc.

    I'm not sure what kind of "windfalls" you are talking about or if you would get anymore but it would be nice if you could use that to pay off your debts to get rid of them ASAP

    add your hubby and kids int othe budget and cooking is great for all to be involved and see if you can get them to things of ways to save extra will also teach your kids how to budget etc.

    Good luck it can be hard and many have been there...I have been now we are debt free and saving for a house...good luck

  9. Wink Says:

    The thing that helped me the most when I started working on reducing my debt was to write down everything I spent money on for a full month. Coffee out, $1 in a vending machine, eating out, every last penny I spent. I carried a little notepad with me in my purse and wrote it all down. It was eye opening at the end of the month to see just how much I was spending on wants (not needs). It helped me to tighten up my budget, and then use that money each month toward debt, or savings. And, great job on paying down your credit card debt!

  10. rob62521 Says:

    As you can see, so many people with great ideas who have lived what you are living. Try to find little ways to without what you can.

  11. late.start Says:

    Welcome. The will to begin working towards this is half the battle. Ditto to everything everyone above said. Paying down debt as soon and aggressively as you can, and practicing frugal living habits will set you up for the long term. I have kept track of everything I have spent for years. Even though, this was somewhat demoralizing at the beginning when debt repayment was slow, it had the effect of me getting really familiar with my money. It helped me over the long run to really understand where I can cut costs, how much I can anticipate to save any given month/year, and to anticipate costs in advance so I am not caught unawares. Good luck with it all. Looking forward to reading about your journey.

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