I was reading the most recent Women in Red article over at msn.com, and Dunleavy mentioned people "hitting the wall". She says that often times people need to hit rock bottom to bounce back. I'm sure that's how it starts for a lot of people, but that's not how it was for me.
My debt accrued in college. Lots of it is student loan debt, which I'm ok with. But alot of it is credit card debt. I worked at least 10 hours a week while I was in school, and up to 40 at some points. I worked full time whenever possible during the summer. I commuted to school, and paid for my own books, transportation, and supplies. Although I lived at home, I usually bought my own food. I love to travel, so a chunk of my debt is from that, and I purchased a laptop. Everything else seemed important at the time- clothes, food, ect. As my years at college progressed, I kept charging when I needed to, and worked enough to pay the minimums. My cards were never in collections, but occasionally I would be unorganized and not pay my bills on time. I've only been over 30 days late once on one card. Still, you only need to be one day late on one card to see your interest rates go through the roof. One day, during the summer before my last year of school, I got an offer for a high-limit credit card with a 0% balance transfer offer. Great, I thought, I'll have more money to pay this off, since I'm working all summer, and I'll save on interest! But that didn't happen. The balances continued to rise, and I continued to just make minimums. When I graduated, I owed more than 75% of the credit available on all four of my cards.
I got out of school, got a job, and settled into a new apartment. I knew I needed to tackle the credit card debt. It had been bugging me for over a year when I made the balance transfer. Now I had a comfortable salary. Once I was settled into the new job and the new place, I started making a budget and seeing how much I'd be able to pay off each month towards the balance. The more I think about it, the more determined I am to get rid of debt. It will never be easier than now. I don't have kids. I don't have a mortgage. I don't mind living like a college student.
I could have just continued to pay minimums. I could have bought a new car, or all new clothes. I haven't hit bottom yet, and I never want to. But I'd like to think I'm just as serious as anyone who has hit bottom. I eat ramen, I don't shop, and I'm going to be debt free.