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17k in Credit Card Debt - Seeking Help

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    17k in Credit Card Debt - Seeking Help

    Hi Everybody,

    It will help for you to know how I get into this situation so let's start there. I'm a 28 year old man and this debt is mostly due to living an extravagant lifestyle above my means. I was out partying every night downtown in my city and blowing hundreds of dollars a night with friends on drinks and food. I had developed a problem with drinking almost over night and when I got dumped by my long-term girlfriend I became depressed and didn't care where I was going in life anymore. Finally I realized that I was so far in debt that me ever losing my job could mean financial ruin for life. I had to change my outlook and put everything down as far as drugs and booze is concerned. I'm currently making $14 an hour but have been promoted to a managers role recently and could see an increase to a 35k salary. I will list my expenses and credit cards below for you to look at.

    Credit Cards:
    Citi: $6,200.00 - 0% until 4/2017 - $94 Min
    Bank of America: $5,450.00 - 16.99% - $135 Min
    Banana Republic: $3,400.00 - 23.99% - $100 min
    Citi: $1,125.00 - 0% - Until 1/2017 -$25 Min
    Guitar Center - $775.00 - 0% Until 7/2016 - $25 Min

    Total Debt = $16,950
    Min Payment = $379.00

    Expenses:
    Rent: 475
    Util: 100
    Gym: 40
    Wifi: 25
    Food: 200 - This is what I'm going to budget
    Gas: 75 - Hoping not to spend more for this

    Expenses= $915.00
    Expenses+ Minimum Payments: $1,294.00
    Take Home Pay= $1900.00
    Take Home - Total Expenses= $606.00

    If I stick to my budget strictly I potentially could pay a maximum of $985.00 per month to towards my debt. Would I be best suited to pay this off as an avalanche or snowball? Which debt should I target first? My parents are helping pay my cell & car insurance payment so that is a huge blessing right now. My car is also paid off at the moment. My biggest fear is that I'm going to lose my job and have to come clean to my parents about me being in credit debt as they always warned me about it. With me being promoted to manager I feel that I'm examined much more closely and fear being fired much more than I did a month ago. It is extremely hard not to worry about what would happen if I lose my job and start missing payments. Someone please tell me I'm going to make it out because like I said this is literally making me sick thinking about this.
    Last edited by panthers88; 12-25-2015, 02:49 PM.

    #2
    Welcome to the site.

    First, why are you so afraid of losing your job? You mention it several times. Have you done something wrong that hasn't been discovered yet? The fact that they just promoted you would certainly suggest that your superiors are happy with your performance, not on the verge of firing you. So let's put that fear out of the picture unless there's something you haven't told us.

    Your situation isn't that bad. Right now, on your current salary, you've got an extra $600/month to throw at the debt. That's great. Is the income you listed what you are now earning as a manager or is there still a raise to come? Either way, you're not in bad shape.

    I would put the $600 toward the 24% loan from now until May. Then for May and June, pay off the Guitar Center loan before the 0% runs out. Also, if you can sell whatever you bought with that loan to free up some money, do that, too.

    At that point, you'll have an extra $25/month so go back to paying the 24% loan. Once that's gone in August, take the $625 + $100 and in 2 months, pay off the Citi card that the 0% ends in January. Then do the one that ends in April. Finish up with the 17% BOA card and you'll be done. By summer 2017, you'll be debt-free. If you get any raises between now and then, put the extra take home pay toward the debt and it'll be even sooner.
    Steve

    * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
    * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
    * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

    Comment


      #3
      Thank you so much for your response.

      As far as my job worries are concerned I think I just have a negative point of view on myself which is partly to blame for how I got into this situation. This will be the first time I've actually been in a management role and people have been getting axed for poor performance lately so it's just a worry. The good thing about that though is it is motivating me to perform as well as I possibly can. The income I listed is based off of my 14 an hour pay. The extra money from a raise to 35k would certainly help. This entire process is causing me to face myself in the mirror everyday and analyze my behavior which has been a huge wake up call.

      I feel like the debt I've accumulated has also caused me to become reclusive due to not having the funds or money to get out and about and meet people. I don't know how women would react to my debt situation so that adds into the negative thoughts. Any tips on staying positive throughout this would also help me out.

      Comment


        #4
        A couple of additional suggestions:

        1. If you don't have an emergency fund, you need one, even if it delays the debt repayment by a couple of months. Rather than throwing the entire $600 at the debt, maybe do $400 for debt and $200 for savings for the first few months until you have $1,000 saved for emergencies. Just don't let doing that keep you from repaying the 0% debt before the rate expires.

        2. It wouldn't kill you to budget a modest amount for entertainment. $50/month would be enough to go out for a meal, have a drink, see a movie. Yes, it would slightly delay the debt repayment but not by a significant amount.
        Steve

        * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
        * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
        * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

        Comment


          #5
          One thing to add is that when you are using credit cards to buy things, you cannot think in terms of monthly minimum payments. Even if the interest rate is 0%, you still need to divide the total amount by the length of time so it is paid off when the rate expires.

          If you are using a credit card with a non-zero interest rate, really ask yourself if you need to buy that item(s).

          Disney Steve presented a solid plan for you so I hope that you follow through.

          And congrats on recognizing this debt cycle you are in - YOU WILL GET OUT OF IT!

          Comment


            #6
            Disney Steve offered a very practical, doable plan. I see your promotion to manager as a very positive change with employer seeing you with management skills and worthy of a raise of money, title and responsibility.

            I suggest you put your credit cards in the fridge freezer and live using cash, it's real. While it's annoying, it's important to write down every dollar spent so that you are in control of your money. There is so much leakage and impractical spending, it's important to do practical things like take lunch from home as it costs double to eat-out and homemade foods have less chemicals and additives.

            If there was a Christmas bonus, use it to kick start that $ 1,000. Emergency Fund that's crucial to your economic well being. If you anticipate an income tax rebate, make a plan for how it will be used. Set a jar on your table and dump change in it daily as you empty pockets. One more thing you might consider when you're more comfortable in your new role is a short term, part time second job to make more money to pay down these debts faster.

            We're here cheering every step forward, offering ideas to make this short term belt tightening period less traumatic.
            Last edited by snafu; 12-27-2015, 07:28 AM.

            Comment


              #7
              Budget, Emergency Fund and Hit One CC at a Time

              Hello Panthers. Sorry to hear about what happened but it's awesome that you now want to get out of debt.

              Do you have an emergency fund? If not, what amount of money in the bank would make you feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders? $600? $1000? Whatever amount that is for you, make your minimum CC payments and throw every dollar you can into a savings account until you reach that target.

              Have you written a full and detailed budget? A spreadsheet or one of many free apps can get you 100% dialed in on your finances. My guess from your numbers is you have more expenses than listed. Which is okay because you've at least started looking. I'd really recommend that you spend a couple of hours doing this so you have a solid number for your excess income that can go towards your emergency fund and eventually towards your debts.

              I paid my debts off by going from smallest to largest, regardless of the interest rate. Nothing generates momentum to keep you on track like seeing a statement in the mail with a $0 balance as fast as possible! So my recommendation is to get Guitar Center paid first, then use the extra $25 and roll your focus to the smaller Citi. You'll get both of these paid off in a few months and I promise you will jump up and down when you see that 1/3 of your accounts are paid off!

              You'll slip up, your budget won't be 100% correct for the first three months and other obstacles will come up during your journey. Don't beat yourself up! Just plow forward and you WILL get to debt freedom in time.
              Phil Danley
              100% Debt Free since 2014
              http://www.ConsumerDebtCoach.com

              Comment


                #8
                FWIW, when I married my husband, his credit card debt exceeded his annual gross income - that is, he owed more to the credit card companies than he made in an entire year BEFORE taxes. But he was a great guy and I could see that - and he agreed to let me make a payment plan AND to leave all his cards at home ALWAYS so we could dig him out of debt. Spent the first 12-18 months of our marriage funneling every extra penny into his debt and paid it off. And we had very modest incomes. So anyway, there are women out there who will see beyond debt to the great guy underneath all that superficial stuff. We've been married for going on 22 years. Would it have been nice if he didn't have debt? Absolutely - so work on clearing that up, but don't think having some debt is going to chase away the RIGHT woman. (And of course, any debt you have before marriage wouldn't transfer to your wife ... it would remain solely yours.) Good luck! You can do this for sure.

                Comment


                  #9
                  • Use a web bill pay service to ensure that you don't forget any payments.
                  • Agree with Steve on the $50/mo entertainment budget.
                  • Debit cards are your friend!!!! They force you to live within your means.
                  • Take your savings account off the DC, so you can't dip into it.
                  • Also agree on leaving the CC in a dresser drawer.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    You mentioned that your parents are 'helping' you pay for your cell phone and car insurance. Are you saying helping as in paying part of them or all of them since they aren't listed on your bills total. I suspect some other things may be missing from the total as well such as clothing (not that most of us can't go a year or two without new purchases there), toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc. Those last two I get with groceries so those aren't line item budgets, but with a $200 food budget I'm not sure how much less you can spend there. You might want to be working towards being self sufficient in all your finances.

                    I know you can live on your income since I have a 32 year old son doing it currently although he pays all his expenses with no help. He also doesn't own a credit card. My husband and I also live almost on your income as well. It can be hard but it is doable. If you get that raise you will be ahead of a lot of families in the US in income. Now you know that you don't make enough to be blowing $100's a night so hopefully you won't revert back to that.

                    Not having any clue where you live, most towns have plenty of free things to do so that you can get out and do things for not much money. A walk in a park followed by an ice cream cone is a cheap date. If you want dinner, cook the meal at home. On those nights that you are now sitting at home twiddling your thumbs, read a good book, do surveys on line to earn cash and gift cards. My son paid for pretty much all the gifts he gave this year at Christmas this past year from surveys he did and he does the really small ones but to him they are certainly worth it. One of the cards that he gets a lot of is CVS gift cards and since we are there all the time for meds, etc. He gives me the gc and I pay him the cash equivalent so that he has earned money from that survey. But he also earns gas cards and Walmart cards.

                    There is a livable life on a budget and while the other poster managed to deal with a husband who came to her fully in debt, it would be much nicer to get that paid off and some savings tucked away before getting to serious about a young woman. But the heart wants what the heart wants and it is hard to control that sort of situation.
                    Gailete
                    http://www.MoonwishesSewingandCrafts.com

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Gailete View Post
                      There is a livable life on a budget and while the other poster managed to deal with a husband who came to her fully in debt, it would be much nicer to get that paid off and some savings tucked away before getting to serious about a young woman. But the heart wants what the heart wants and it is hard to control that sort of situation.
                      I mentioned that because he seemed to say he was concerned about whether or not any woman would be interested in him once she learned of his debt, and I wanted to reassure him. It would, of course, be nice not to have start a marriage with that debt, but he shouldn't let that worry make him feel worse about himself, IMHO. There's a big psychological component to being in debt, as everyone knows. My intent was to put his mind at ease. The OP hasn't responded since December 25, so perhaps he's not even reading this now.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Oh I understood what you said, but I know I personally at this point, if single, would never get myself hitched to an enormous debt guy or gal (if the case was reversed). Not all folks can handle it as well as you did and that is great. I've seen young ladies especially on this board even, that have moved in with boyfriends and are moving heaven and earth to get the bills paid off, even using their own earnings, and finding that at times these guys haven't learned a lesson and are still reckless spenders.

                        If you aren't married to the person, I wouldn't spend a nickel helping them pay off their debt. If you are in debt and want to date, then find the cheap but fun things to do. My 'Mr. Big Bucks', as my son calls him, sent me a lovely bouquet of roses right before we got married. It would have been a lovely gesture except that I was the one that had to pay that credit card bill after we were married. Same thing with my ring. I told him I wanted a plain gold band. The next thing I know he calls me and tells me he had bought me a wedding set and the first thing he said about it was, "You probably won't like it"! Why in the world would a guy buy a ring for his fiancÚ that he is pretty sure she wouldn't like? And he was right - it was ugly. And each month that bill for that ugly ring came and I had to pay on it every month. I think I didn't mention that right after we got married and I found out about all his financial lies (he had over $20K in credit card debt and had told me prior to getting married that he had no trouble with his bills), he got laid off from work so I had to pay on his bills! I was NOT a happy camper at this point. And his spending never got better. Everything he told me that he was going to buy was 3-4 times what he told me it would be and he bleed money, and always wanted to show off how much he made, etc. thus the nickname Mr. Big Bucks.
                        Gailete
                        http://www.MoonwishesSewingandCrafts.com

                        Comment


                          #13
                          We should co-write a book! :-)


                          Originally posted by Gailete View Post
                          Oh I understood what you said, but I personally at this point, if single, would never get myself hitched to an enormous debt guy or gal (if the case was reversed). Not all folks can handle it as well as you did and that is great. I've seen young ladies especially on this board even, that have moved in with boyfriends and are moving heaven and earth to get the bills paid off, even using their own earnings, and finding that at times these guys haven't learned a lesson and are still reckless spenders.

                          If you aren't married to the person, I wouldn't spend a nickel helping them pay off their debt. If you are in debt and want to date, then find the cheap but fun things to do. My 'Mr. Big Bucks', as my son calls him, sent me a lovely bouquet of roses right before we got married. It would have been a lovely gesture except that I was the one that had to pay that credit card bill after we were married. Same thing with my ring. I told him I wanted a plain gold band. The next thing I know he calls me and tells me he had bought me a wedding set and the first thing he said about it was, "You probably won't like it"! Why in the world would a guy buy a ring for his fiancÚ that he is pretty sure she wouldn't like? And he was right - it was ugly. And each month that bill for that ugly ring came and I had to pay on it every month. I think I didn't mention that right after we got married and I found out about all his financial lies (he had over $20K in credit card debt and had told me prior to getting married that he had no trouble with his bills), he got laid off from work so I had to pay on his bills! I was NOT a happy camper at this point. And his spending never got better. Everything he told me that he was going to buy was 3-4 times what he told me it would be and he bleed money, and always wanted to show off how much he made, etc. thus the nickname Mr. Big Bucks.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Hey everyone, I just wanted to post an update since some of you thought I've disappeared. At this point in time I'm struggling, sadly. This debt is always at the front of my mind but I'm my own worst enemy I started out great making payments but my total debt is still at the same amount it was when I posted my original post. I think that my problem is that I'm becoming very lonely. When all of this got out of control I had been dumped by my girlfriend and all of my friends moved from my hometown so I was left alone and used my credit cards to go out on an almost nightly basis. I was depressed and using drugs/alcohol/credit to make myself "happy". I've deleted every bad influence in my phone and have started to change those habits. It's very hard for me to turn down a friend from work offering to go out for drinks because I feel so alone and bored when I'm at my apartment. At age 27 I feel like I should be out meeting girls and enjoying my life but instead I've created this horrible debt in my life that is stealing the enjoyment of my 20's. I just wanted to let everyone know I'm still here and I'm going to do my best to budget and stick with it. If anyone has any advice on not feeling so alone while paying this off that would help me out immensely.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Sorry to hear that you aren't making any forward progress in taking care of your debt and getting your finances in order.

                              A suggestion is to pop in here at least on a weekly basis to report how you are doing whether good or bad, listen to suggestions and get encouragement. One of the best ways to kick bad habits is having someone or a group of people holding you accountable for your actions.

                              I know that this probably sounds strange to you, but you really can live a life without ever once going out for drinks as a social outlet. I know it is possible because I have never done it. I don't drink - period. But then you do need social outlets, but ones that don't cause your wallet to groan about it. Perhaps you can volunteer somewhere such as a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, visiting nursing homes. Places where you can help others and it wouldn't hurt to see how these people live their lives to encourage you to get out of debt so you won't end up like them. Even things like animal shelters are on the lookout for care givers and folks to play with the animals. If you like children you could even look into helping in a hospital nursery rocking babies that have had a rough start. None of these activities cost money, but they get you out of the house and being with people and give you something worthwhile to do. I wouldn't suggest working as a big brother as I think a lot of those have the 'big brother' taking the 'little brother' out for activities that may cost money, but you can check into it. If you like sports at this time of year, you could perhaps volunteer to help coach teams or just help supervise depending on the age group. You could even get involved in a church, book clubs, volunteer at a museum, the list is endless. But you have to stop feeling sorry for yourself and get out and focus on others in need. Your whole mindset will change. I suspect that for any of your interests/hobbies, there is a place that you can volunteer for something you are interested in.

                              I think unless you do something like this, you will continue to drink up and drug up and waste your money until you are out of a job and will need to move back home if your parents will let you or you will find yourself out on the street. If you have access to cable try to watch Life or Debt if you want to see some folks that are really in debt and in trouble. We don't have cable but my son does and he tapes the show and brings it over for us to watch and then we talk about what we saw. Yesterday we watched a show where the couple hadn't made a mortgage payment in FIVE years (weren't kicked out of their house yet because some many in their city were in foreclosure it was taking the bank awhile to get to them). Even so, their yearly income at $40K and they were spending something like $100K a year. All going on credit cards. This was a family of 6 with a yearly income of $5K more than what you make. The guy that is the host of the show insists that people run their home and budget as if they were a business and take the emotions out of the equation. You have to figure out how to make your income more and your expenses less. Do one or the other or better yet, do both. My son that is 5 years older than you and living on less than you doesn't own a credit card so he isn't in a situation like this, but he hustles for every nickel he can to make his ends not only meet but have enough for savings. He does surveys, etc. to earn gifts cards and that is how he affords Christmas gifts. I will admit to the fact that compared to most Americans our Christmas spending is way below what many do and it is mostly things that the other would like since in reality we don't NEED anything. We keep it simple. When I hear people talking about spending $100's or even thousands on Christmas I can't understand why, but that is just me. I bring up my son a lot since I admire what he has accomplished on a bare bones income. He lost his full time job half way through the year in 2015. When we did his taxes, he had SEVEN W2s to input into the computer. It would have been so easy for him to sit back and do nothing, but he signed up with numerous job agencies so that he rarely went a day without work of some kind. My older son was talking about him on the phone the other night after his part time job told him he will go full time in July, and he said that his brother doesn't spend money on anything. I said no, he is just very selective on what he spends money on. He doesn't have much and with no credit card to pad his income, he has to limit his spending to needs and a few wants, not all the wants he may have.

                              So to deal with your loneliness, get out and help others. Make a budget and stick to it, including budgeting for savings. Decide which way of paying off credit cards will encourage you more so start on that. Pop in here and report your progress weekly. All that volunteering you will be doing, you just might meet a nice young lady with interests in common with you. If all a couple does is go out to eat and drink, I'm not sure how they hope to really get to know each other in real life situations.

                              Best wishes and report back next Sunday!
                              Gailete
                              http://www.MoonwishesSewingandCrafts.com

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