Coming Clean

I can’t tell you how many times I went back and forth about whether to post this or not. Yikes. Here goes.

My weight is not the only thing I let spin wildly out of control in my life. You guys know I am a bargain shopper at heart, but what you probably don’t know is that I am still in the process of working myself out of a pretty serious financial mess. Let me enlighten you…

The Background

When I was in college, I opened up an innocent little credit card through an offer I got from being in the Golden Key Honor Society. There was a $2,000 credit limit on it and I honestly thought nothing of it and never even used it once. Then, after graduating from college and transitioning out of the restaurant business and into my first real job, I went through a rough time.

The Build Up

I ended up having to get emergency back surgery in September 2006 (another story for another day), and during my recovery, I found myself unemployed. I was looking for jobs for hours each day, and when I was not looking for a job, I was either going out to eat or drink with friends or online shopping, because I had nothing else to do.

Needless to say, without any money coming in and an excessive amount going out, I ended up almost maxing out that credit card in a very short amount of time, and Bank of America, being the charmers that they are, upped my limit to $6,000. I graciously accepted the “free money” they gave me by upping my credit limit, and kept that balance on my credit card for a few years, always making the minimum payment but never making too much of a dent in my balance.

evil-credit-card-companies

But Wait…

Then, about two years ago, the bank that I actually have my checking account at suggested I open another credit card for overdraft protection, so before I knew what was happening I had a second card with a $4,000 limit. The original plan was not to put anything on the card, but you can probably guess how this one ends. And if you couldn’t guess, let me tell you – It ended with another 4,000 of credit card debt.

Around the same time, I opened an Express credit card because they give some pretty great discounts on clothes and good benefits if you have a card with them. I only had a $500 limit, so I figured there was little harm. They upped the balance to $1,300 very quickly, and before I knew it…

I had nearly $11,000 in credit card debt between three cards.

debt-consolidation

I had been in talks with financial counselors because I felt way in over my head with all the debt. My sister had also worked with me previously when I just had the Bank of America debt, and I was so embarrassed and ashamed that I had let it get to out of hand that I didn’t tell a soul. I called my credit cards asking them to reduce my APRs, and started paying way above the minimum balance, and I still wasn’t seeing much of a reduction in debt. It was SO hard to work my way out of the mess once the debt was already racked up, no matter how disciplined I was. I just felt way in over my head with three cards and payments each month.

Then, earlier this year, I read a series on Holly’s blog that really struck a cord with me. She came clean about having $35,000 in debt and getting out of it with her husband in about 2 years. Knowing that someone who had over 3x as much debt as I did and took care of it in under 2 years really lit a fire under my ass and made me want to take action, and quickly. Seeing someone as sweet and great a person as Holly come out about her debt made me realize that it didn’t make me a bad person, and that I needed to get this under control before it got even worse.

financial-freedom-systems

The Solution

I was already practicing very tight budgeting, but when I learned that finances are only 20% know-how and 80% discipline, I welcomed the challenge. I quickly got rid of the Express balance since that was the lowest by just paying the minimum on the other two cards and putting as much towards the Express as I could. Once that was paid off, I opened a new card and transferred almost all of the Bank of America balance to it with 0% APR for 12 months. I’ve now been aggressively paying off my debt for the past several months, and have managed to get it down to $6,500 from $11,000. Still a ways to go, but I am feeling extremely confident that I can get out of this debt by early 2012, if not before.

The Lesson

Money management and weight loss really draw on the same strengths. They both require a great amount of discipline and when you think about the big picture, it can feel incredibly daunting. When you instead focus on small steps and set up a concrete plan, that’s where you start to see real progress. I will also say that just like weight loss, seeing progress with my credit card debt gets me excited to keep going! It feels so good to finally feel in control.

Whew, putting this out there, albeit scary, feels oddly freeing. I realize it’s probably TMI, but sometimes when I write about budgeting with groceries and everyone responds and thinks I’m so regimented and disciplined, I feel like I’m keeping this huge secret, but now, the cats out of the bag.

Back to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow. Smile

By getting your health under control, have you seen other areas of your life fall into place? Are you a spender or a saver?

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94 Comments on Coming Clean

  1. Gretchen @ Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!
    May 4, 2011 at 8:50 am (6 years ago)

    I am really proud of you for publishing this post. As much as we put ourselves “out there” in a lot of people’s eyes for publishing our weights and our health-struggles on the interwebs for the world to see, finances are arguably an even MORE sensitive issue. It’s hard to admit to being in debt, and it’s something that I’m definitely not ready to share with my readers, let alone my friends or, Heaven forbid, my family!

    I’m so impressed that you’ve managed to wipe out nearly half of your credit card debt, and I have no doubt that you’ll reach your goal in no time. Holly’s series lit a fire under my butt, too, and I’ve been trying very seriously to budget (I use Mint.com) and actually attempt to be monetarily responsible. I am thinking very seriously about going back to school full-time, but I can’t allow myself to do that until I am debt-free, y’know?

    Thanks for yet again being so open and honest about your struggles, Beth! 😀

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:27 am (6 years ago)

      I use mint.com too and LOVE it. I had a lot of trouble deciding whether to share this or not, but it felt like such a sham NOT to when I talk about bargain shopping and budgeting for health so often!

      Reply
  2. Sydney
    May 4, 2011 at 8:50 am (6 years ago)

    Wow, congrats on setting up a plan and executing on it. I think that’s the hardest part. I’ve always been a saver, but with being a real “adult” (married person/homeowner/etc), it definitely gets harder to prioritize spending. I can totally see how it could get out of control.

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:28 am (6 years ago)

      I think the most difficult part is once you start getting in debt, its very easy for it to get out of control. What’s another $40 happy hour? Shoes? Sure! It just adds up so quickly and then before you know it, you’re swimming in debt!

      Reply
  3. Kate
    May 4, 2011 at 8:53 am (6 years ago)

    (longtime lurker, first time commenter) wow beth thank you so much for sharing that! I had a similar moment of the connection btwn weight loss and finances when I realized that with both areas I was spiraling out of control. It’s taken me a long time to realize that I need to keep track of my spending the way I keep track of my eating and WW points. Just like with eating, i had been mindlessly spending small bits here and there and wondering where my $$ was going. I know how embarrassing and isolating it can feel to beat yourself up for getting into a big hole. I’m sure your “coming out” has helped a lot of us. Keep up the good work! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:37 am (6 years ago)

      Thanks for saying hi Kate! It really was crazy the first time I made a budget and realized I actually had extra money. I kept saying I wasn’t making enough money to make a difference, but the truth was I was just being really dumb about it! It feels so freeing to finally be making progress.

      Reply
  4. Holly
    May 4, 2011 at 8:56 am (6 years ago)

    Beth look at you go with paying that debt off!!!! I am so happy for you and I can’t wait to hear about when you make that final payment. What a huge relief.

    Thanks for sharing your story — I know there are plenty of people out there with similar situations and you are so right, debt seems so shameful that I wonder how many people have debt and never talk about it/address it? You are being a good example for so many people!!!

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:29 am (6 years ago)

      Thank YOU for being such an inspiration to me in this department! I remember emailing with you that day, going outside and calling BofA and them not helping me, and then getting extremely aggressive. It’s crazy what a little discipline can do!

      Reply
  5. Liz
    May 4, 2011 at 9:03 am (6 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing and opening up with us. I’ve always felt that money management and weight are very similar, especially Weight Watchers with points and a daily balance. Congrats on making such a huge dent into your debt!!

    Reply
  6. Amy @ Second City Randomness
    May 4, 2011 at 9:06 am (6 years ago)

    I find, the more people I meet, you are definitely not alone in this one. Especially in times like these (although it shouldn’t be an excuse, but it is often a factor).

    I worked up a little debt myself back in the day- nothing crazy, but when you’re in college and only working part-time (really really part-time), it’s overwhelming at times.

    As are my current student loans… ugh.

    Reply
  7. Jennifer
    May 4, 2011 at 9:06 am (6 years ago)

    I think you are very brave to share your story, and I’m sure your honesty will help others. I’m so glad you’re making great strides to get the debt paid off. It’s a valuable life lesson and it’s probably better you are going through this now vs. later in life.

    I was the same way, after college I looked at the credit cards that were offered me as free money. Ugh. I got myself out of the mess, as well, and now I definitely have a strong financial picture to shape what I want my future to look like. I keep a spreadsheet of all my finances (401k, IRA, checking/savings,mortgage, and budget) and it really keeps me on track and keeps my financial goals in front of me at all times.

    Good luck as you continue to pay down the debt, Beth!!

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:30 am (6 years ago)

      I actually love my budget spreadsheet! I have a column showing my net worth, and it’s so exciting to watch it get closer and closer to 0 haha. I can’t wait until its a +! =)

      Reply
  8. Mary
    May 4, 2011 at 9:09 am (6 years ago)

    I learn something new from you every day! It’s why I read your blog. It’s so true that little bits go a long way, and your progress is so impressive.

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:30 am (6 years ago)

      Aww thank you Mary! =)

      Reply
  9. Mindy
    May 4, 2011 at 9:11 am (6 years ago)

    I’m so proud of you for this honesty – debt is such a hard thing to dig yourself out of. I had a tough time with it during my undergrad/grad school years and ultimately ended up using student loan money to pay off the credit card debt, as student loads are seen as “good” debt. The only downfall of that is after 7 1/2 years of education between the two degrees, I’ve got mounds and mounds of student loans to pay off. It’s definitely a hard hole to dig out of and budgeting is an even harder lesson to learn.

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:31 am (6 years ago)

      I am so lucky to not have ANY student loans. My parents paid for undergrad and I don’t have a graduate degree. The credit card debt is so much to manage on its own!

      Reply
  10. Sarah
    May 4, 2011 at 9:14 am (6 years ago)

    Never commented before, but I thought that I should because this was SUCH A GOOD POST! Finances and healthy living draw on the same disciplines, so that is something we must strive towards if we want to succeed. I found myself ignoring my credit card bills/bank balance at one point in my life, because I thought that if I did not know the information, then I wouldn’t be obligated to do anything about it. Kind of like turning the other way when they weigh you in the doctors’ office, huh?

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:32 am (6 years ago)

      Ain’t that the truth!?

      Reply
  11. Leanne @ Leanne Lately
    May 4, 2011 at 9:19 am (6 years ago)

    Thank you, Beth. I am in the same boat only I defaulted on EVERYTHING. Student loans, credit cards… I did multiple charge-offs when I was first in over my head and they’ve destroyed my credit. know I need to do something about it rather than waiting for some of the things to “fall off” my credit report. I haven’t used a cc in over 6 years which is a major improvement but my credit score still haunts me.

    Did you go through a consolidation process? Congratulations on your progress and for posting something this personal.

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 9:27 am (6 years ago)

      Hi Leanne! I actually did not go through debt consolidation, but I did consult with a financial counselor and heavily considered going into a program. What swayed me against it was they said I’d have to close all my credit cards and couldn’t open another one until all the debt was paid off. I was only allowed to pay a very low amount towards each card for them to approve the lowered APR, so it was goign to take years and years to pay it off and I couldn’t have any credit until then. Because I was actually really good about lowering my expenses in other areas (bring my lunch/breakfast, not eating out, bringing coffee, low expenses otherwise, my car is almost paid off, etc) I had a little more money that I thought I did to work with once I made the actual budget, so for me it didn’t make sense.

      When I first graduated from college, I had no idea about how serious the mistakes I was making were. I think the most important lesson I learned is that you cannot ignore ANYTHING. I used to pretend that I didn’t get bills I couldn’t afford and just hide them and pretend they didn’t exist. Now, I call the places directly and work out a payment plan if that ever comes up, and it doesn’t go onto your credit. Especially in times like these, people understand that money is tight!

      I’d be happy to talk to you more about this so feel free to email me if you have more questions. 🙂

      Reply
    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      May 4, 2011 at 9:34 am (6 years ago)

      I went through something similar about 3 years ago, when I went through a really bad part of life. I didn’t default but got extremely behind on the credit cards that I was using way too much. I used a debt consolidation process and stopped using the credit cards but my credit is still a disaster – though recovering. I’m down to owing about $2,500 and I’m beyond excited (My original goal was to have it all paid off by June 2012 and I think I’ll beat that by about 6 months!). I haven’t been able to save at all (other than my 401K) in the last few years because I’ve been pouring every spare dollar I had into paying debt off. It’s unbelievable to see the progress in paying it off and never thought to compare it to health but it’s so similar.

      Reply
      • Beth
        May 4, 2011 at 11:42 am (6 years ago)

        It feels SO good when the end is in sight, doesn’t it? even after just paying off express with a $1000 balance, I felt such a weight off my chest to only have two credit card payments instead of 3!

        Reply
  12. Stephanie @ The Cookie Battle
    May 4, 2011 at 9:29 am (6 years ago)

    I’m going through the exact same thing of trying to get myself out of debt! It happens to so many of us and I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of, though I hesitate to tell people too…but I have told all my friends what I’m trying to do in hopes that they will be understanding about me not going out to eat/drink with them every night. It is an uphill battle though. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:42 am (6 years ago)

      I don’t think my friends knew about it before this post, but my family did. Now everyone does! =)

      Reply
  13. Emilie
    May 4, 2011 at 9:35 am (6 years ago)

    You’re not as alone as you might think… I know a lot of people in a similar situation myself included. The problem begins when companies issue credit cards to students who’ve just moved out of their parents homes and have no clue what the consequences are.
    Now I’m 27, expecting my first child and desperately working to pay off the last bit of credit card debt from my student days (even though I’ve been working full time for almost 4 years)
    I wish High Schools would implement programs to teach teenagers about the reality of credit.
    Thanks for this honest post.

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:44 am (6 years ago)

      I think that is an incredible idea – for high schools and/or colleges to do real life training classes! I had no idea how serious the issues I was getting into were, I honestly just thought the debt was innocent and one day I’d make enough money to pay it off. The trouble is, it adds up quickly and unless you’re smart with your money, you’ll never have “enough”!

      Reply
  14. Theresa @ActiveEggplant.com
    May 4, 2011 at 9:36 am (6 years ago)

    You’re SO not alone here Beth! When Diggity and I first got married we didn’t have any debt, save for student loans. Then the banks started giving away credit like it was going out of style & we totally fell for it! We spent and spent and spent – and honestly, I don’t know what we still have to show for it! But about a year ago we started buckling down & working on it. We got rid of one car & put all of our extra money towards credit card payments. Some days it feels like we’re not making any progress, but I know that we are – it’s just going to take a LONG time to get everything paid off. But seeing that light at the end of the tunnel, even if it’s 3 or 4 years away – is such a motivator!

    Thanks for sharing Beth – it’s good to know we’re not alone!

    Reply
  15. Charlcie
    May 4, 2011 at 9:48 am (6 years ago)

    (Another long-time lurker and first-time commentor) My husband and I are having the same finacia issues, to the point of our marriage going down hill because of it. We are both spenders and are just now feeling the heat of it. We have over $15,000 in debt and are just starting to pay it off in a quicker way. Do you have any tips of how you have paid off some of yours, and what company let you transfer your debt from another card to the 0 apr card? We have several also and need to figure this out to pay it off quicker. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:41 am (6 years ago)

      Hi Charlcie! Finances can definitely be a source of tension in relationships, so I can imagine that’s tough. My boyfriend and I argue about money sometimes because I’m much better at managing it (isn’t that sad?). I’m planning on doing a follow up post in the next week or two with tips on getting out of debt and ways to save money every day since there’s been so much interest, but I highly recommend you check out mint.com if you haven’t already. They have an excellent money management site that helps you budget, and refers you ways to save money. that’s where I found my 0% APR card and it has been a huge tool in making so much progress so quickly!

      Reply
  16. goodtastehealthyme
    May 4, 2011 at 9:50 am (6 years ago)

    Credit cards are definitely dangerous and they can add up before you know it. It’s hard. But good for you on keeping yourself to a stringent schedule and paying down your debt. It’s hard but once it’s all paid off you will feel amazing!

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:44 am (6 years ago)

      I cannot WAIT!

      Reply
  17. EatMoreMeatLess
    May 4, 2011 at 10:10 am (6 years ago)

    Congratulations on posting this. Through these comments, I’m sure you can see that you are not alone. You are getting through this in a great way, just like you are pushing through the rest of your life. Keep up the great work 🙂

    Reply
  18. Marci
    May 4, 2011 at 10:10 am (6 years ago)

    congrats on getting it under control and paying back half! i think this is a very important topic for young people. I personally don’t understand the credit system or even what APR means, but always try not to spend more than I can pay. Or pay cash because you think twice about parting with cash.
    it is similar to weight for sure i think mostly in the self-discipline and knowledge category.

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:44 am (6 years ago)

      APR is the interest rate! You are lucky you didn’t even know what that is! =)

      Reply
  19. beyondbananas
    May 4, 2011 at 10:11 am (6 years ago)

    I think it takes an awful lot of courage to share that – and it definitely does not make you a bad person! I think far more people are in debt
    I was never in serious credit card debt – but I would always carry a balance.. and I had quite a few cards. Finally – I started paying bigger chunks until I didn’t have a balance anymore. Now- I pay the full balance every month.

    School loans.. well thats another story

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:45 am (6 years ago)

      I can’t wait to be at the place where I can just pay the credit card off in full. I think it’ll be nice to keep some revolving credit and get the cash back benefits, but I have to get out of the debt first!

      Reply
  20. Emily
    May 4, 2011 at 10:13 am (6 years ago)

    Beth, thanks for being so transparent with us. You are so not alone, look at everyone who is sharing their struggles here.

    I also see the correlation between weight issues and debt issues. For me, they seem to go hand in hand. When I was eating out of control, I was also spending out of control. Now I’m getting my food under control and also getting my debt paid off. For me that means a second PT job right now, which is a sacrifice, but at the same time it’s active and I burn more calories. I try to look at it that way! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!!

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:46 am (6 years ago)

      Yeah the Weight Watchers thing is also helping to attack the debt! It’s not THAT much money, but I get around $100 every two weeks which helps take the edge off of living frugally.

      Reply
  21. Heidi
    May 4, 2011 at 10:13 am (6 years ago)

    when i was a senior in college i got my first line of credit that i later used to fund a spring break trip to London, the summer after graduation i “scored” four more credit cards – within 2 years all maxed out. This year, per my sisters suggestion (she’s a banker and got herself out of a lot of debt so i trust her with this stuff) I signed up for a debt management program. I closed all of my accounts, i pay a set amount each month and all my cards will be paid off within 3 years. Making financial mistakes when you’re young is nothing to be ashamed about – kudos to you though for taking steps to getting back on track, it’s certainly not the easiest thing in the world but definitely necessary 🙂

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:47 am (6 years ago)

      I was very close to enrolling in one of those programs, but after getting some solid advice from the counselor I decided to try to attack it on my own so that I could take care of it more quickly. It feels so empowering to finally be doing something about it, doesnt it!?

      Reply
  22. Lisa @ I'm an Okie
    May 4, 2011 at 10:27 am (6 years ago)

    I think it’s such an inspiration when you see people taking their financial problems into their own hands and doing something about it. Great job on cutting your debt in half. The end is in sight!

    Reply
  23. Amanda
    May 4, 2011 at 10:34 am (6 years ago)

    Debt sucks…good job working your way out of it! I was in the same boat, especially when I lost my job and realized I had about 12000 in credit card debt and no way to pay it! Unemployment $ does wonders though and now, 6 months later I have all my small store credit cards paid off, including Express :), and am well on my way to having my larger visa cards paid off! And I am starting a new job in a week! It feels great! I think one thing that helped me, that is tied into my weigh tloss, is giving up fast food completely. I was terrible. Every lunch was bought at fast food, and even if I stuck to the dollar menus it added up and I was wasting at least $100 a week on nasty stuff that made me depressed!
    Now if only my $60,000 in student loans will go away as easily..I’ll be set! haha

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:48 am (6 years ago)

      Wow congrats on all your progress with your debt AND your new job. It’s such a heavy weight lifted!

      Reply
  24. Morgan @ Becoming Rooks
    May 4, 2011 at 10:41 am (6 years ago)

    It’s really awesome that you were brave enough to share this. I graduated college with a lot of CC debit and just paid the minimum for a while and ignored it. Finally, I got a clue and read Young, Broke and Fabulous by Suze Ormond and started getting my way out of debt. Like you, I paid off the smallest debts first and did the balance transfer game. I think you’ve shown that you can really get your debt under control with a smart game plan.

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:48 am (6 years ago)

      I have that book too! My sister bought it for me in a desperate time, but I wasn’t ready for it yet. I should read it now!

      Reply
  25. Heather C
    May 4, 2011 at 10:52 am (6 years ago)

    Whew, girl, that is not a good place to be in (obviously, you know this) but really brave of you to share! I think more people go through this than we think, as our generation has never really learned to deal with handling cash OR credit. We just think in terms of debit cards and automatic ways to spend! I’ve never had a credit card (I have one from my parents that’s for flights home and emergencies only, I use it maybe 4-5 times a year), this is good and bad – my credit is good but i’m never approved for a card of my own because I don’t already have one. Tricky little system! Oh well, I’m okay without having the “extra money” (that I actually Don’t have) to spend 😉

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 10:57 am (6 years ago)

      I don’t know HOW I got approved for my first card since I was in college still and had 0 creditworthiness, but somehow they approved me! In some ways I wish I never let it happen, but in others I think I’ve learned a lot and am happy to have this lesson ingrained in me early (relatively) in life.

      Reply
  26. Amy @ Conquering Self
    May 4, 2011 at 11:24 am (6 years ago)

    I think it is so great that you decided to take control of your financial situation…just like you did your weight and health. It is so easy to blame the credit card companies (and sure, they definitely take advantage of ignorant college kids who are THRILLED to have that “money” at their disposal at age 18) but the reality is, just like with weight loss, tossing around blame doesn’t fix the problems we find ourselves dealing with…taking control does. Thanks for being such a positive example of how to get things back on track…and that it can be done!

    Reply
  27. Lisa
    May 4, 2011 at 11:29 am (6 years ago)

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I am in a very similar situation and have been working to pay off my debt but it feels like I’m getting nowhere. Can I ask how you found a good 0% APR card? I called a few months back to ask the two major cc I owe money on to lower the APR and they wouldn’t. It makes all the extra money I pay not go to the bill but to the finance charge. Is there a good website you recommend for help with this? Where did you find a financial consultant? I have a friend who is one but am way too embarrassed to ask him for help! Thanks again for posting this and sharing yourself. You are right, this goes hand in hand with weight!

    Reply
    • Beth
      May 4, 2011 at 11:36 am (6 years ago)

      Hi Lisa! Do you use mint.com? It’s an incredible budgeting software that helped me SO much. Once I put my debt into there, they recommended a 0% APR card, so I applied and was approved. It’s through Chase ( http://www.chase.com/freedom). I couldn’t move all of my debt onto it, but I moved almost all of it from the Bank of America card over since I had a 20.99% APR on it (Yikes!). I got so frustrated when I called and they wouldn’t lower it even though I was paying twice the minimum and not getting anywhere with the debt, so that really was a catalyst for me jump starting getting out of this mess. There is usually a small fee (around 3%) for balance transfers, and then you accrue 0 interest for 12-18 months, depending on the card. I’ve just been paying the minimum on that card and heavily attacking the debt that’s still accruing interest, and my goal is to have that one paid off in full hopefully by next month.

      Reply
      • Lisa
        May 4, 2011 at 11:45 am (6 years ago)

        I have checked out Mint but got lazy and stopped filling out the info. I am going to use you as inspiration though and commit myself to figuring out my budget this weekend! I would rather devote the time to do that then continue paying off this debt forever. Thanks for your response and again, this post!

        Reply
  28. holly
    May 4, 2011 at 11:33 am (6 years ago)

    this just goes to show, health is more than just physical – its emotional, it’s holistic and it’s about creating an environment around you of honesty, positivity and strength. you go girl!!!

    Reply
  29. Summer
    May 4, 2011 at 12:18 pm (6 years ago)

    I totally think there’s a connection between fitness and finance! The episode of Biggest Loser where they brought Suze Orman on to talk about their credit, etc. comes to mind. Those with the most weight to lose had a direct correlation with the amount of debt they were carrying around.

    Good for you for “coming clean!”

    Reply
  30. Emily
    May 4, 2011 at 12:51 pm (6 years ago)

    You are beyond amazing and inspiring. Thank you for sharing this!! I really think I needed to hear it.

    Reply
  31. Kelly
    May 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm (6 years ago)

    That is so awesome! Good for you!!

    Reply
  32. Lori
    May 4, 2011 at 1:12 pm (6 years ago)

    Wow, I was JUST discussing this with my Husband last night. This is the other thing besides my eating that has been out of control for some times. Not due to excessive spending – just living. We had some major events happen over the past few years that ended up racking up debt. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one – and there is light at the end of this tunnel too! Thank you!

    Reply
  33. Sheri
    May 4, 2011 at 1:28 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Beth! I know exactly how you are feeling – I was in nearly the exact same situation as you – I had over $10k in credit cards, plus a car payment, and a student loan that just won’t die. I decided to get serious about it about a year ago, and I’m happy to say that I’ve paid off everything except for the student loan! I’m still struggling with not adding to those paid off credit cards, but it’s so nice to think that I could be saving the money I was spending on payments, or even just having the cash to buy things outright! I used the Dave Ramsey snowball method to get rid of my debt, and it was kind of fun to adjust my debt snowball spreadsheet each month and see how far I’d come! I even made a little “Snowball Fund” piggy bank out of an old oatmeal container and put all of my spare change into it. At the end of each month, I’d deposit it all into the bank and apply it to the credit cards immediately.

    I wrote a post about my story here: http://www.slowlybutsurelyblog.com/2011/03/out-of-debt.html

    Best of luck with the rest of your debt – I know you can do this! 🙂

    Reply
  34. ashleigh
    May 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm (6 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing this and congrats on getting your finances in order.
    I never really put the two together, but once I got my health in order, I started to save a lot more money. I wasn’t eating out as much, drinking out as much or buying coffee so it was easy to try and save.

    Reply
  35. Lisa
    May 4, 2011 at 1:53 pm (6 years ago)

    I’ve never been in debt that was too bad. At the most I had $3,000+ on a credit card that I really struggled to get rid of it. It was stressful and made me feel like a failure. But through hard work I got it paid off. Now I try to keep my balance under $500 at any given time.

    Reply
  36. Kayla
    May 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm (6 years ago)

    Thanks for being totally honest! You’re awesome! Hubz and I aren’t in tooooo much credit card debt but we do have a higher balance than we’d like on one credit card and we have quite a bit of student loan debt… It’s so easy to feel like you’re drowning in it all! We’re currently going through Financial Peace University which has helped us a lot!

    Reply
  37. Katie
    May 4, 2011 at 6:35 pm (6 years ago)

    Thank you so much for posting this beth! I think you were really strong to do so. I have 2 credit cards with nothing on them, but very often I am just tempted to spend, spend, spend, on them (especially when times are stressful and I don’t want to turn to food).

    Reply
  38. Roz
    May 4, 2011 at 6:52 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Beth, congrats on paying that debt down, and for your honesty. This will help alot of people know they aren’t alone.

    Reply
  39. Sandra
    May 4, 2011 at 6:55 pm (6 years ago)

    My husband and I spent about two years getting out of various debts that we had racked up separately for about 25K total.

    Good for you for putting yourself out there and sharing your struggle. Weight and money are two of the most relatable things and most people struggle with it. Just know that you are not alone so no one can give you any shifty looks.

    Now, we have credit cards only for the credit lines but we never use them, no need because we STICK to our budget. Sometimes it isn’t fun, but at the end of the day it is very rewarding.

    Reply
  40. happywhennothungry
    May 4, 2011 at 7:01 pm (6 years ago)

    What a great post! Congrats on starting to pay down your debt. You’ll get it paid off sooner than you think!

    Reply
  41. Victoria (District Chocoholic)
    May 4, 2011 at 7:12 pm (6 years ago)

    It is so great that you’ve taken control of your financial situation. For some reason, in our culture, women are supposed to act helpless around money. No. Not OK. Be able to take care of yourself.

    I think there’s another way in which physical health and financial health improvement are similar: realizing those improvements involves getting in touch with your values and priorities. In physical health improvement, you need to decide what you want to achieve and why. Cholesterol reduction? Weight loss? Race goals? For financial health, what do you really care about? Security? Travel? Education? In both cases, you need to look at your current habits and your values and see where they don’t meet up.

    I already told you about my friend Michelle Singletary, who I think is totally brilliant. But a few things to think about as you pay off your debt (again, super duper awesome progress):
    -Build up savings while you pay off debt. Otherwise, another really unfortunate incident like your back surgery could send you back into debt.
    -Contribute to a 401k if you don’t already. Then contribute more. And more. In a few years, you’ll look at the balance and shock yourself.
    -Really look at where you spend money and see if it’s truly in line with your values, or if there are things you do value that you aren’t working towards financially.

    If it’s not obvious from the above, I’m a saver. I’ve been on my own financially for a very long time, and have managed to sock away a serious 401k and purchase my own place in DC with 20% down. Those are things I value. A car, not so much – hence my ’96 Volvo wagon. Hot.

    Reply
    • lgsmash
      May 4, 2011 at 10:50 pm (6 years ago)

      i LOVE your comment – so true that financial and physical goals can be viewed similarly – improvements don’t just happen over night. it takes analysis and planning.

      and especially true about women and money – i think (hope?) that’s changing – i follow quite a few young female professional and female centric blogs/newsletters/twitter handles and it’s so empowering to learn about money and take charge.

      Reply
  42. Heather
    May 4, 2011 at 8:38 pm (6 years ago)

    I am fortunate enough to have a CPA for a husband so budgets are in abundance in our house, but I you have support in this blog community.

    Reply
  43. lgsmash
    May 4, 2011 at 10:46 pm (6 years ago)

    i love how honest this post is! debt and money are things we keep so closely guarded and personal. i had hefty credit card bill (moved across the country w no job 2 years ago) and have been steadily paying it down. i should have mine paid off by the end of this year too – as slow as it seems to be going, it’s awesome to see the balance decrease each month.

    kudos to you – keep up the great work and keep us updated on your progress! way to take charge of your finances!

    Reply
  44. Katie
    May 4, 2011 at 11:12 pm (6 years ago)

    Congrats on recognizing that you needed help and setting up a plan! That is definitely half the battle (if not more!)

    I’ve gotten in over my head in debt a few times – in college learned the hard way that ignoring credit card bills does NOT make them go away – my credit score is still recovering from that one.

    Thankfully, my husband is MUCH better money-minded than I am. He takes care of most of the household finances, so as long as I can handle my personal stuff now, I’m good. And just being exposed to his responsible ways has rubbed off on me.

    I really like Suze Orman’s advice. She’s no-nonsense and practical. Her book “Women & Money” has a lot of great information, I highly recommend it!

    For myself, I’ve wondered if my tendency to overspend/ignore money problems is related to my past issues of overeating/ignoring weight problems. Have you given that any thought in your situation? Seems like there might be a correlation psychologically or habitually, at least. Food for thought, so to speak!

    You are definitely not alone, and so brave for speaking out!

    Reply
    • bakebooks
      May 5, 2011 at 8:28 am (6 years ago)

      YES! Kate – have you read Geneen Roth’s new book “Lost and Found”?? It’s exactly about that. How the money/overspending/”binging” was just another way of dealing with stuff like her overeating was….

      Reply
  45. Brittany
    May 5, 2011 at 12:41 am (6 years ago)

    Thanks for posting this and sharing! I understand it must be a hard thing to open up about. I am practicing very tight budgeting right now too. I’ll be graduating at the end of the year and I’m trying to save money but it’s not easy at all. Luckily my mom has always been really good at saving money and has taught me some tricks along the way. It’s awesome that you have paid off so much already. Congrats on taking control 🙂

    Reply
  46. sara
    May 5, 2011 at 6:06 am (6 years ago)

    congrats on getting ontop of it and decreasing the debt drastically whislt still trying to stay ontop of your weight loss journey,work,blog and relationships:) credit cards will be clear before you know and youll haev so much more cash to splash:)

    Reply
  47. bakebooks
    May 5, 2011 at 8:27 am (6 years ago)

    Wow.

    I’m over $100k in debt – but from student loans and line of credits – not credit cards. Still though – it’s almost worst (Even though it was for school) – the interest rates are enormous. I have to pay $1500 a month just for my student loans.

    The worst of it is that I hate my job. Hate the whole field and profession. But with this much debt – I don’t have a choice. That’s why it bothers me sometimes when people say “do what you love” or “I’d rather make less doing what I love” – well, yeah – I would to ! But I can’t. It’s this or declare bankruptcy.

    IT’s very stressful though. It’s like a huge weight on your shoulders. I can’t go anywhere, plan trips, do anything spontaneous because I have to be so careful…

    Reply
  48. Nina
    May 5, 2011 at 9:29 am (6 years ago)

    I can honestly say that I am both. I love to shop and buy all the amenities that I want, but then there is the other side of me that loves to save…….so that I can have the money to pay for all those amenities that I want! There is always one thing I always say to myself before I spend, make sure I will wear it, play with it, eat it, or use it!

    Reply
  49. KristieS
    May 5, 2011 at 10:32 am (6 years ago)

    Thanks so much for sharing this! It helps knowing others are in the same boat. And that there is a light at the end of the tunnel we’ve dug ourselves into 🙂

    Reply
  50. Heather
    May 5, 2011 at 2:38 pm (6 years ago)

    Seven years ago my husband and I had over $30k in credit card debt. This month we will pay off the last one. I am beyond ecstatic to have this part of our lives over with. It has been a strain on our relationship and just a huge burden that I felt like we would never escape from. Kudos to you for working hard to get out of your debt. It can be hard work, but it is so worth it.

    Reply
  51. Ang
    May 5, 2011 at 4:27 pm (6 years ago)

    Don’t feel bad! I’ve been there and done that. More than once. What makes it so hard is knowing that like you most of the charges were for dinners or drinks out. Some clothes. Maybe a few vacations. I basically at this point have nothing to show for it. It’s not like a house or car payment where I needed and got use out of what I bought. I too am digging myself out! I’m proud of my progress for sure and I think it’s awesome that you are making such great progress too! No shame in falling into the credit trap. More people than not have been there!

    Reply
  52. Monica
    May 6, 2011 at 9:55 am (6 years ago)

    What a great post! And good for you for taking control to manage your debt, it is not easy.

    My husband and I racked up credit card debt when we first got out of college and were trying to get by on very little money, while planning for a wedding. We also were paying the minimum on our student loans and almost a year were so sick of our financial situation. We reached out to a good friend who is also a CPA and financial adviser and she has been working with us to get debt free by following a debt snowball plan. We pay the smallest balance off first and pay minimum amounts on everything else, and then once that payment is freed up we move to the next smallest debt. It really builds momentum and has helped my husband and I feel in control.

    I agree that financial discipline is the same as weight-loss and it feels nice to have both areas impact one another.

    Reply
  53. Katie @ Shared Bites
    May 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm (6 years ago)

    Yay!! Like the other commenters, I’m so glad you felt comfortable enough to post this! I’m sure you will inspire some people the way Holly inspired you. The 20/80 split between know-how and discipline is so true. And it sounds like you’re mastering both.

    And I love that you posted your step about transferring to a new card with a promotional 12 month 0% interest rate. It’s tougher to get that kind of deal in the current climate (than say, 5 years ago), but if you can, it will save you a boatload of $$. Great job, girl!

    Reply
  54. Alison
    January 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm (5 years ago)

    Oh man, I seriously need to work on paying off some debt. My husband and I have about 20,000 in student loans that needs to be worked off as well as $2000 in credit card debt, $2500 to my parents & our mortgage. Its daunting, especially since we have a new baby, I’m living on my maternity money (which is very little) and we run a home business which supplys a decent income but it’s not consistent. Our goal this year is to start plugging away at some of our debt. I’m not sure how it’s going to happen yet, but I know I am a HUGE reason why we’re not paying off debt. I am high maintenance when it comes to grocery shopping and I have medical problems that require more expensive products. I have taken some small steps to elminate our debt thus far-such as making coffee at home, working out at a gym that has a cheap membership rate, eating mainly vegetarian (since organic meat is so expensive), not clothes shopping, not getting my hair dyed etc.

    Reply
  55. Michael
    February 21, 2012 at 12:57 pm (5 years ago)

    I desperately wish i was a saver. I spend without thinking constantly and NEVER have anything to show for it. It’s always impromptu bar stops with friends or dinner out and all of a sudden I’ve spent $30+ in one night when I don’t get paid for another 2 weeks.

    You’re right about weight loss and finances being similar. It’s all about the discipline.

    Reply

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