I remember when I made the last payment on a credit card balance that was burying me in interest. The feeling was was orgasmic. Seriously, deeply orgasmic. It also lifted an enormous weight off my shoulders and changed my attitude about money and finances.
It was almost $20,000 – most of it was, by then, years-old debt from when I was building my design business. I’d been blindly carrying the balance for years, by paying only the minimum, maybe a little more, each month. About half of my monthly payment was interest. Read that again. Fifty percent of the check I sent each month was interest. I was just handing them money with nothing to show for it. And the balance never seemed to budge even though I’d stopped using the card.
I had to get rid of that debt.
I gasped when I figured out how long it was going to take to pay it off within the confines of my regular monthly budget – 2½ years! That seemed like an eternity. In reality, that was an aggressive repayment schedule with a very hefty payment each month. So even though at the beginning it felt like I’d never reach the goal, I knew I had to start or I’d just keep sending the credit card company several hundred dollars a month in interest.
Writing that first check was terrifying. It was more than double what I normally paid. What if we needed that money for like, food! What if a car broke down? What if… Screw it. I wrote the check.
The next statement came and because the beginning balance was so large the increased payment didn’t even appear to make much of a dent since, of course, more interest had been added. But it was going down, and by a lot more than if I just kept making the minimum.The secret was to keep believing in what I was doing and stick with it.
Before long, watching the balance shrink was a serious endorphin rush! Honestly. It filled me with such a sense of control, accomplishment and pride! It got to the point that I couldn’t wait to write that check each month, because I was no longer just giving my money away, I was gifting myself with a debt-free future.
The day I made the last payment, 27 months after writing that first whopper of a check, I danced the happiest freakin’ happy dance you can imagine! It was as though I’d climbed Everest (wearing high heels!) It was an insanely wonderful feeling! You need to experience it for yourself, but trust me.
I couldn’t wait to receive my next bill. I wanted to hold it. Kiss it! Heck, I thought I might frame it!
The bill never came.
Finally I called the credit card company and was informed that they don’t send statements if there is no activity or a balance on the card. What?!!! I felt robbed. After years of watching the balance inch closer to my goal of zero, I was not going to have the privilege of seeing it actually hit it in a tangible way. But I had the joy of knowing the credit card company no longer owned me.
But now I have this:
REAL LIFE RESOURCES: Help with Getting Yourself Out of Debt:
Here’s a credit card pay off calculator that can help you figure out how to pay off your credit card balance. You’ll need to know your balance and your monthly interest rate. It will be on your last credit card bill.
Then, you can enter in a monthly amount you can afford to pay and the calculator will tell you how long it will take at that amount.
Or, enter in how many months you would like to spend paying off your credit card bill and it will give you the monthly minimum amount you need to pay to make that happen. Pay attention to the amount of interest you can SAVE by paying off the debt quicker. It can be quite a motivator!
If you’re really struggling under endless credit card payments that you don’t seem able to get ahead of, there is help. You can find free or low-cost credit counseling options through local credit unions, religious organizations, and social nonprofit agencies.
Just be sure which ever organization you’re working with is accredited with either of these organizations:
Special note for Military Servicemembers
Under the provisions of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), you may qualify for a reduced interest rate on mortgage payments or credit card debt, protection from eviction, or a delay of all civil court actions, such as bankruptcy, foreclosure, or divorce proceedings. To find out if you qualify, contact your local Armed Forces Legal Assistance office.
Being excessively hassled by debt collection agencies? File a Complaint.
- You can submit a debt collection complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).