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5 For Friday: Your Nasty Debt!

by J. Money on Friday, July 22, 2011

We took a break from last week’s 5 for Friday due to someone WINNING IN COURT action (Booyah!), but we’re back today to learn some more about you guys. In particularly, your grody debt!

So dust off your credit card statements and loan details, and announce once and for all just how much debt you’re holding onto! Not only will this make you feel better (no more letting it fester in your head), but it’ll also shed some light on just how much your peers have accumulated as well. Some may have less than you, and others more, but at the end of the day we’re all on this site to do one thing: Motivate each other to DO BETTER :) And the first step to doing that is to admit it loud and proud and then get right into the dirty dirty (aka hard work).

You with me? Here we go…

  1. How much *total* debt do you have? (Not including mortgages. If you don’t have any other debt, answer the questions past tense.)
  2. How did you get it?
  3. How long has it been adding up for?
  4. What is your current plan for ridding it?
  5. Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel _____.”
  6. **Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be?

They’re tough, I know, but it’s great to get it out there!! And what a perfect way to do it among such a supportive community, right? :) Here are my answers:

  1. Total Debt: None.
  2. How I got it: All of my *old* debt came from shopping. I was fortunate enough to have college paid for through my parents (and I hope to do the same for my kids one day), but the rest was all up to me. And at the time, I didn’t think much of it and just spent all my money on beer and other nonsense that really wasn’t important (actually, the beer was is, but not the rest – haha…).
  3. How long it built up: I probably had debt on and off for a good 10 years. Some months were better than others, fluctuating from $500 on my credit card bills, to $0.00 many months, but I was always hovering around break even point and not really saving anything at all.
  4. How I got rid of it: I finally got serious. Again, I wasn’t ever in too much trouble, but after I realized I wasn’t a college student any more (which literally took 5 years, no joke), I decided that I needed to start GROWING my money now and not SPENDING it anymore. I got tired of living paycheck to paycheck all the time, and finally owned up and started tracking where it was all going. The second I did that, it all became much clearer!
  5. “My debt (used to) make me feel…. stupid. There’s no better word for it. I felt like if I couldn’t manage my money like a “normal person” (hah!), there was something wrong with me. Looking back I know that’s not true anymore – we all struggle financially at some point, and a lot of times it’s even beyond our control – but back then I felt like I couldn’t be successful unless I had money in the bank. No matter how that happened. (except for illegal stuff, of course, haha…)
  6. **Bonus** Hmmm… that’s tricky… I guess for me, since I never got in TOO much trouble to begin with, I’d have to say I’d change nothing about the past. I wish I would have learned a lot FASTER, that’s for sure, but everything I did back then helped me to get to where I am now. And I wouldn’t change that for the world. (I learn by making mistakes. Lots of them :))

After writing some of these answers I actually came up with THREE new blog posts I wanna talk about soon :) I hadn’t thought about this stuff in quite some time, I enjoyed it. And I know we’re all in totally different situations here, but I do hope writing it all out helps you guys out too!

And don’t be afraid to ask questions, or try some of the methods people leave here! Some of the best advice I’ve gotten over the years is from others just like us who’ve gone through this nonsense, and have come out newer & shinier! We’re all on different levels here, but it doesn’t mean we can’t take shortcuts and get to our destination faster with a little help ;)

Your turn to answer the questions! Make sure to “copy” your comment just in case my spam filter eats it up too — it gets spam-happy when we talk about debt & paying off credit cards, etc :(

——–
PS: HUGE shout out to Danielle Liss for getting rid of $13,000 of credit card debt this last year! And for making one kick-ass video about it (above).
PPS: Here are our previous 5 For Fridays. You get to learn a lot about everyone ;)


{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jenn July 22, 2011 at 7:36 am

Blah, I tried to answer, and I was told my comment seemed spammy. Of course it was gone when I came back. Maybe I’ll try again later, I don’t want to type it all again now.

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2 Kim July 22, 2011 at 7:43 am

1. How much *total* debt do you have? $67K credit card debt, $60K car
2. How did you get it? Got some in the divorce but the rest has been incurred because we consistently live outside of our means.
3. How long has it been adding up for? I have been in debt my entire adult life which is 20 years now. It started with an ‘emergency’ credit card I got my freshman year in college with a $500 credit limit. It’s funny, but back then $500 seemed like a lot of debt.
4. What is your current plan for ridding it? Not sure. Right now we’re short every month about $600 and I don’t know what to do to fix that. I’ve tried to call the credit card companies and work out a deal with them, but I’ve only been successful with one card which will be paid off in 5 years. We are looking for things around the house to sell, but that will be a process. We’ve been (mostly) following Dave Ramsey’s plan but have gotten completely derailed this year. I’m very tempted to let them go into collection and then start putting money away for settlement offers. Other than that, I’m trusting that God is going to get us through this and help us change our behaviors.
5. Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel overwhelmed and ashamed.”
**Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be? Nothing, really. I believe that things happen for a reason and I wouldn’t be the person I am today (good and bad) had I not made the decisions I’ve made.

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3 Andy July 22, 2011 at 8:22 am

1. $55,875.78
2. Every penny of that is student loans, undergrad and graduate school.
3. By being a perpetual student.
4. I’m paying $1,000 a month and will have it all paid off by Nov. 2016, according to my plan from Mint.com.
5. My debt makes me feel like it allowed me to get the good job I have today but at the same time like I’m behind others who have bought a house and got married and the like.
Bonus: Easy, not going into teaching.

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4 rainbowfish July 22, 2011 at 8:31 am

1. $7000: $6400 is my car loan which will be paid off soon, maybe sooner if we go to upgrade the ‘make’ of the car, I will NOT finance a used car. The rest is a CC and I keep a small balance on the card that I keep for my credit report (we don’t have a mortgage or rent so CC and Car Note are the only things that get reported and you gotta have credit)

2. Old debt was $16,000 in student loans and CC debt from college, it was about $10,000 combined. I had to pay for college, and all my living expenses (I paid for those starting at 15) so it was loans and credit or no degree. The degree was more important. And I made some 20 year old mistakes. But when DH & I married, we attacked the bills and paid everything off in a few years.

3. Current debt is ‘planned’ (the CC amount) and I don’t plan to incur any more large debt, notice I said PLAN, there are things that would cause us to have to get more debt, but they would be pretty major. I have a decent saving amount, I think)

4. Current: paying extra to principal of the car each month and if DH gets a work bonus it goes to the car, CC is just paying it. Old debt, I paid as much as I could each month.

5. My debt makes me feel ‘weighted down’… well the old debt anyway. SOME of that debt was necessary (the student loans) but I wanted it all gone. Now I feel the same way about the car. We will be paying cash for the child’s used car this year.

Bonus: I honestly try not to look back and regret or want to change anything in my past. All those choices led me to here. Sure, I could say I ‘wish’ I hadn’t spent X on Y? But the past is the past. Just face the music, except the good and bad choices you have made, decide to make better ones and move on. Life is too short to look back!

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5 No Debt MBA July 22, 2011 at 8:33 am

1. NONE!!! Never had a dime of debt.
My goal is to keep it that way through business school and beyond. No student loans or anything else for me if I can help it.

Thanks for making my Friday and keeping me motivated!

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6 KimMakesMeMad July 22, 2011 at 8:49 am

@Kim with comment “Other than that, I’m trusting that God is going to get us through this and help us change our behaviors.”

Don’t be so blind! God isn’t going to get you through this YOU ARE. If you want to believe in “god” that is fine, but you cannot rely on “him” to fix things for you; YOU need to fix YOUR mistakes.

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7 Jenna July 22, 2011 at 8:59 am

1. I’m down to about $26k in student loan debt.
2. I traded it for a master’s degree. :-P
3. I racked it up in a swift year, and I am now 3 years into repayment.
4. I just paid off the higher-interest loan last Friday!!!!! While I could then divert that monthly payment to my other loan, I think I might split it between extra retirement savings and the other loan. It’ll take longer to pay it off, but I’ll make up for that with the extra growth from the retirement fund.
5. …burdened. Which is why I want to get rid of it so badly!!
BONUS: I’m pretty happy with my choices. I could have done two years in grad school and racked up twice as much (like many friends I met there). I could have gone to a different school, but my life would have gone down a different path, and I’m happy with where I am now. :-) I’m certainly glad I never racked up any credit card debt (the only time I carried a balance was when I had an intro 0% APR).

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8 Kim July 22, 2011 at 9:09 am

@KimMakesMeMad: It is apparent that we have different beliefs. I will move past that and I hope you can do the same.
I think you misunderstood my comment. When I said I was trusting in God, I didn’t mean I was expecting him to drop $140K in cash on my doorstep. I’m not one of those that simply sits and waits for something to happen (see my comment about selling things around the house and calling credit card companies to work out a deal). I grew up with a mom whose motto was ‘Everything’s going to be fine’ meaning God was going to work it all out but never took the initiative to do anything to change her situation. As a result, she was in debt for 40 years, has no retirement savings and is entirely dependent on social security. What I believe is that God isn’t going to leave me hanging but I know I have to do something about it, too.

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9 Erin July 22, 2011 at 9:20 am

1. How much *total* debt do you have? $6k.
2. How did you get it? I cosigned on a 5-year loan for a quad for someone in 2007. STUPIDEST thing I have ever done.
3. How long has it been adding up for? Since 2007. I think the original amount financed was $8,500 at 12.9% interest. Because the IDIOT that I cosigned for didn’t make his payments on time, the interest rate is now 24.9% and the 5 year loan (which is 4 years in) is no more and it’s just infinite.
4. What is your current plan for ridding it?I have a paid off 2007 Corolla, and I am considering getting a lower interest car loan against it to pay off the quad, repoing it from the jacka$$ that has it (even though I don’t want a 2007 quad worth $2k if I have to pay $6k for it) and paying it off and just making the car payment. I am a little concerned he has already fucked my credit by not paying it though. If anyone has any other thoughts, I’m willing to listen.
5. Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel like a fucking jackass for helping someone who screwed me over.”
6. **Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be? Ummm…see above! That and accruing about $8k (now paid off) credit card debt over 6 months of my manfriend not working. A lot was spent on necessities (food/gas) but a lot was spent on wants (booze/cigs – cigs for him, not for me, but booze for me too).

I now have no credit cards and will not again. If I can’t pay cash, I don’t get it.

PS: J$, just wanted to shout out my appreciation to you. After reading your blog for about a month and a half, I have maxed out my 401k contributions (to what my employer matches). Now I just need to figure out WHAT to put my 401k$$ in.

PPS: Kim, you may want to look into the option of bankruptcy. I live in MI (not sure where you live) but you can always go in for a free consultation with an attorney to at least LOOK at your options. Beware of predatory debt consolidation agencies, and if you choose to settle, there are often attorneys and non-profit agencies (like Greenpath) that can help you. Just be careful differentiating between real non-profits and financial predators. The government sanctioned non-profits are the way to go. If you have any basic questions, let me know :)

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10 Sarah July 22, 2011 at 9:25 am

1. How much *total* debt do you have? (Not including mortgages. If you don’t have any other debt, answer the questions past tense.)
Total debt? Aside from the house? Nada.

2. How did you get it?
Previously I had student loans and a car payment. I’ve always paid off cars early – and when i sent that last student loan payment in? I DANCED. That was a happy day.

3. How long has it been adding up for?
I’m pretty frugal, so my debt has always been purposeful and practical… so… n/a.

4. What is your current plan for ridding it?
Hey, wanna buy a house in Michigan? ;)

5. Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel _____.”
My lack of debt makes me feel free.

**Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be?
Nothing actually – I’m grateful I had to take on debt to put myself through college – I think it made me appreciate the experience more.

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11 Nicole July 22, 2011 at 9:29 am

How much *total* debt do you have? $18,500 credit card debt, $45,000 401(k) loan
How did you get it? Buying a new house before my old one sold. I was at a point after my divorce (the ex loved to spend even more than me!) where all I had was my mortgage, no car loan, no credit card debt. But, I finally found the dream home in the dream town, and I took a risk. So, since I have been paying on two mortgages for a year, and as a single mom (with NO public assistance—never would!) paying $650 a month in daycare, etc., etc., my credit card bill has added up due to repairs on the new house, furniture, window treatments, etc. I also love clothes, makeup, jewelry, go to the theater, museums, DisneyWorld with my son, etc. I used to be able to do all those things cash, but with two mortgages, I have been putting it on my credit.
How long has it been adding up for? a year (this time!) In the past, before I paid everything off after my divorce, it was several years adding up.
What is your current plan for ridding it? Well, luckily, I have never been late on anything, so my credit is excellent. That gets me many credit card offers. I just transferred everything to 4.99% thru 12/12. That will cut my interest expense. Once I sell my old house or get a renter, I should be able to wipe it out. The 401(k) loan doesnt bother me, because I used it for a down payment on my beautiful new house. I eventually plan on refinancing my house and paying it off. Luckily, I have my MBA, a good job, good bonuses and good salary, so all my payments are manageable and I know the tightness of my situation is temporary.
Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel _____.” It makes me feel a little ashamed, but again, it’s temporary. I took a calculated risk in buying a house before I sold. My credit is a source of pride for me, so I will never be one of those strategic defaulters. I am in the financial industry, have been putting in my 401(k) since I was 21 years old (sometimes 20-25% of my pay), have money saved for my son’s college (he’s only 5), so I think I am pretty responsible. Once the old house sells, I will be sitting pretty again, with only mortgage debt!
**Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be? Well, I would never take back the money I spent on Broadway shows, museum outings, trips to Europe, and Disneyworld with my son and mom. Those are experiences and memories I will always treasure. My son has been to Disney 3 times, OuterBanks, HiltonHead, etc. He goes to museums, and we are season subscribers to Playhouse Square here in Cleveland. We go to every circus, or kid related event we hear about. I don’t regret any of that because it is enriching his life. My philosophy is I only have one chance to make his childhood awesome, and I don’t intend to blow it. What I do regret spending money on is the clothes I’ve never worn, the makeup never used, the collectibles that just gather dust, and even some toys for my son. It’s the experiences and time with me he appreciates more! I would rather go into debt on memories and experiences, than things!

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12 KimMakesMeMad July 22, 2011 at 9:31 am

@Kim

How do you expect “him” to change your behaviors? It’s YOU that needs to do the work. If you’re looking for some sign from “him”, then count this blog and my harsh criticism of you as a sign. I know you believe that “God isn’t going to leave me hanging but I know I have to do something about it, too.” but guess what, your mother believed the exact same thing and he’s seemed to leave her high and dry at the expense of the American people (living off of SS). If anything, you should use her and her beliefs as an example of what *NOT* to do. Don’t be a burden on the rest of society, cut back, stop spending and live below your means! Lastly, don’t rely on something that you’ve been brain washed into believing to save/change you/your behaviors.

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13 Sarah July 22, 2011 at 9:34 am

1 – $2,861.00
2 – It is the last of my student loan debt (which was about 28k to begin with), but I have had my share of credit card debt in the past.
3 – I got it about 7 years ago when I got my Master’s Degree.
4 – I should be done by the end of the year. Will have paid off 18k of it this year alone (this was the year to get serious).
5 – “My debt makes me feel both irresponsible, and proud of my accomplishments.”
**Bonus** I wouldn’t change much about my student loan debt – but I’ve had credit card debt before from simply ignoring my finances and living without thinking. I don’t feel bad about that – but it’s not the most wise choice one can make. Overall I feel like I am doing quite well.

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14 graduate.living July 22, 2011 at 9:54 am

1. Total Debt: Just under $30,000
2. How Did I Get It?: Student Loans
3. How Long Did It Take to Build Up?: One year – graduate school was expensive!
4. How I’m “Getting” Rid of It: Living as frugally as I can while I continue my studies (thankfully now funded). I budget the stipend I’m receiving and have a second job to put toward my interest bearing loans.
5. Finish this sentence: My debt makes me feel… anxious. Physically anxious.
Bonus: Not my school. Totally worth it, even if I do eat ramen noodles for the next five years (just don’t ask me this around the end of semesters…)

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15 HP July 22, 2011 at 9:58 am

1. $10k
2. All from undergraduate loans. My parents paid half of my tuition (very grateful) knowing I’d be responsible for the rest.
3. It hasn’t – I immediately started paying it down after graduation. I will say the amount I charge on my credit card each month (which I pay off in full) makes me a little nervous. Like if I pushed it further I’d drop off into the dark side of debtville.
4. Autopay ever month after my first paycheck comes in… can’t spend what you can’t see. Also, each year (or each pay raise/job switch) I increase the monthly amount I contribute to loans. I started at $150/month, currently at $300/month, and hope to increase payments in the near future. I’ve shaved off lots of time (and interest) by doing so.
5. Accomplished. This may sound silly, but watching my debt steadily decrease makes me feel like I’ve put my education and hard work to good use.
6. I save a lot, but I also spend a lot (DC holla). There isn’t one major purchase I’ve made that I regret, more like hundreds of little ones that have added up. The one thing I wish I could change would be to better manage those little things that seem so insignificant but have a big financial impact as a whole.

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16 Trinnie July 22, 2011 at 10:09 am

How much *total* debt do you have? (Not including mortgages. If you don’t have any other debt, answer the questions past tense.) zero, zip, nada–haven’t had any debt for quite some time, at least 5-6 yrs–before that, maybe $2-3 thousand bucks in credit cards
How did you get it? shopping *sigh*
How long has it been adding up for? about 3 yrs
What is your current plan for ridding it? paid it off, baby
Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel _____.” I hated having debt…and I still hate having debt. We’re going to have to buy a new/bigger car now that the baby is on the way, and I’m so stressed out about getting an auto loan.
**Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be? I would’ve been smarter about my shopping, that’s for sure…

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17 Beckey & Jeff July 22, 2011 at 10:18 am

We are spammy too and it won’t let us post. :(

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18 Niki July 22, 2011 at 10:23 am

1. My total debt equals about $1,250.
2. My husband and I got most of our debt after we bought our house. We got into a spending mode and racked up almost $15K in about two years. Some of it was for improvements and some for stuff.
3. About two years.
4. We got serious too. Last August we decided to get rid of our debt for good and am happy to say by this August(next month! so excited!) we will have no debt. Yay to hard work!
5. My debt made/makes me feel empowered. Right now I feel like I can accomplish anything!!
Bonus* Maybe the really expensive surround sound stereo.. aww who am I kidding? I love that thing!

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19 lorakathleen July 22, 2011 at 10:25 am

1. $18k
2. About $6.5k is student loans, the other $11.5 is credit card and personal loans (travel & shopping)
3. 5 years
4. I got a part time job so I can throw more at it each month
5. Exhausted
Bonus – the shopping. I have way more Stuff than I need… it only adds to the exhaustion my debt already gives me

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20 Jenny~Z July 22, 2011 at 10:29 am

1. How much *total* debt do you have? (Not including mortgages. If you don’t have any other debt, answer the questions past tense.)
Student Line of Credit: $19,895 ($20k limit)
Government student loan: $7,300 (plus an addition $7,300 coming next month for next year)
Credit Cards: ~$9,000 (only $6,777 of it is carried every month) (3 cards total limit $12k)

2. How did you get it?
School mostly. The credit card debt is a hodge-podge of random useless things.

3. How long has it been adding up for?
The credit cards were all paid in full in Aug 2009 so two years now
Student LOC I got in July 2007
Gov loan is 10 months old now

4. What is your current plan for ridding it?
I actually don’t have one. I have a plan for not getting in any additional debt over the next 12 months but I probably won’t generate enough income to actually get rid of it :( boo urns. But I think my education is worth it. I have also played with numbers for once I graduate but that’s extremely hypothetical

5. Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel _____.”
Accomplished… I feel horrible saying that but the majority of my debt is from university. Due to some bad choices (and an abusive relationship) in high school I didn’t think I would ever go to university let-alone actually graduate. So while I hate the idea of debt and cannot wait to make real money and get out of it, my debt has allowed me to accomplish something that I’m very proud of. (I hope that makes sense)

**Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be?
I don’t think I would sign the car lease again. I would buy a cheaper, older, used car… tho I loved my brand-new-way-too-good-to-be-true car

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21 Brian July 22, 2011 at 10:31 am

How much *total* debt do you have? 12K Student loan
How did you get it? Paid for my graduate degree
How long has it been adding up for? It’s in paydown mode at a very reasonable interest rate
What is your current plan for ridding it? I make my monthly payment and then send in a yearly “for principal only” payment
Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel _____.” meh…. I’m glad I went to grad school since I learned in undergrad Engineering was not for me, but I should have worked harder at part time jobs to keep the loan balance down.
**Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be? Work more hours at a part time job so I would not have had to borrow quite as much (and yes I know 12K isn’t a horrible amount for a student loan).

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22 Kaye July 22, 2011 at 10:47 am

1. How much *total* debt do you have? $37,000 (down from $53,500).

2. How did you get it? Buying stupid stuff mostly. Some stuff for the house, which would have been fine by itself, but then dumb things like eating out and such. Just basically living above our means. And then once we started to get serious about getting rid of it, we had job losses to deal with.

3. How long has it been adding up for? It added up for 7 years until we started getting rid of it 1-1/2 years ago.

4. What is your current plan for ridding it? We’re just living within our means. We’re not using the cards at all, we doing without the extras, we’re rarely eating out anymore, we are making conscious decisions to get rid of it. With 2 layoffs during the last 1-1/2 years we’ve been trying to get rid of it, it isn’t going as fast as we’d like, but it’s still going and that’s really the point, right?

5. Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel _____.” Pretty foolish and weighed down. I cannot WAIT to be free from it.

6. **Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be? Why oh why did we buy a timeshare? We’re such suckers.

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23 Sarah July 22, 2011 at 10:50 am

@KimMakesMeMad-Geez, lay off her. It’s clear she is being proactive. Let’s not get into the religious debate. It seems like there’s already been a change to her behavior, and though it doesn’t sounds like the process has been fulfilled, it seems like she’s trying. Let’s try to be encouraging and supportive of her getting out of debt instead of overly critical and belittling of her faith.

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24 Allison July 22, 2011 at 10:54 am

1. About $20K
2. Mostly student loans from grad school.
3. Well, that was 4 years ago… so 4 years!
4. I’m just trying to pay what I can every month. Right now, that’s somewhere around $350 (which is a big chunk of change for me — I don’t have the highest salary in the world, lol).
5. I’m going to steal from Jenna… “burdened” is the perfect word.
**Bonus** I might have tried to work a little harder at a job in school. I wouldn’t have taken on as much debt (I did the bad thing and used some of it for living expenses).

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25 J. Money July 22, 2011 at 11:22 am

***SORRY FOR ALL THOSE HAVING TROUBLE POSTING!!***

It’s because “debt” and “pay off credit” and that kinda stuff triggers my spam filters cuz the spammers are heavy w/ that stuff :( Unfortunately I don’t know how to tweak it right now. So try and “copy” your comment just in case it doesn’t go through the 1st time, and then try again w/ some tweaks and see if that works… i know that’s annoying, and I’m so sorry about it!

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26 Cecil July 22, 2011 at 11:35 am

1. How much *total* debt do you have? $43,480

2. How did you get it? All credit card debt. Shopping, traveling, and sending money to family members in need who live in a foreign country.

3. How long has it been adding up for? Very first credit card was issued in 2000 and that’s when it all started.

4. What is your current plan for ridding it? Started the snowball method in 2007. It’s going slow. I admit I don’t have very good discipline. I will try to pay more into my debt one month and then something comes up and I end up using the extra money for something else. I’m trying my best not to accumulate any more debt. Once in a while an emergency comes up and I end up using my credit cards again, so I’m trying to establish an emergency fund.

5. Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel that I am tied to my current job where I am paid well. I have a desire to move to another location where I expect a pay cut but I cannot afford that right now. I cannot wait to be rid of my debt so that I can have more freedom to pursue my dream.”

**Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be?
I would save money for an emergency fund and live within my means and learn to say NO (occasionally) to people who ask for financial help unless I can really afford to help.

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27 Chris July 22, 2011 at 11:37 am

1. Total Debt was $105,000. I am happy to report that it is now at $44,000 and thanks to a nice bonus from my husband’s job will soon be at $30,000.

2. We got in this much debt because I was being stupid and putting everything on credit cards. We were eating out all the time, remodeling our house, paying bills, etc. I then tried to play the balance transfer game to get out of debt but instead of keeping the cleared cards clear of debt I would just add more. I wish I could say that we have a lot of tangible items from this debt but we don’t.

3. It added up over about 3 years. We have paid off approx. $60,000 in the last two years.

4. Our current plan for getting rid of it is to put every possible cent toward it until it’s gone. I’m hoping by mid next year it will be gone completely.

5. My debt makes me feel weighed down. I can’t wait for the day when we are debt free.

Bonus: If there was one thing I would take back about my debt it would be to not have had to have everything now. That debt prevented me from being able to stay home with my oldest daughter when she was a baby which I really wanted to do. Luckily I fixed the problem enough that I can now stay home with my son who was just born in April.

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28 Melissa July 22, 2011 at 11:49 am

Slightly boring answers from me this time, but still fun!

1. I don’t have any right now. I mean, I have a balance of maybe $500 on my credit card, but that’ll be paid off in full by the end of the month. (Err…I hope so! I might have donated a fair chunk of cash to the “My favourite record store is closing and I had to buy new records” fund…)
2. How did I get it? See above. :) But really, the balance is just my typical household spending for the month.
3. Just adding up since the last time I paid it, at the end of last month.
4. My plan is to not spend any more money this month so I actually HAVE money in the account to pay it when it’s due. Cutting it close this month, for sure.
5. Again, I don’t have any debt, and I’ve actually never carried a balance on anything. I’ve come really close and been really poor, but never passed that line.

Bonus: This is going to be an uncommon answer, but if I could go back, maybe, *MAYBE*, I would go back and actually incur a little bit of debt? I sometimes feel like I worked so hard in school to pay for it, to stay above water, that I missed out on some opportunities. And my grades definitely suffered because of it. At the time I thought that was OK, because I wasn’t planning on grad school, but now I am and I’m worried my GPA might not be high enough for the program I want. So like, maybe if I’d taken out a really small loan, I could have had a little more room to breathe? Sometimes I look back and don’t event understand how I survived university. I have a full time job now AND write a blog AND do a lot of freelancing, and I have way more spare time now than I ever have before in my life. Now that’s crazy!

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29 Diane July 22, 2011 at 11:50 am

How much *total* debt do you have? None.
How did you get it? I’ve never had any debt except a small student loan ($13K) which I paid off within 2 years of leaving school. No car loan, nothing. And even having a mortgage freaks me out.
How long has it been adding up for? N/A.
What is your current plan for ridding it? I plan to pay off my mortgage early (in 15 years vs 30), but I don’t have other debt.
Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel _____.” I am glad I am frugal and have avoided debt. Having a $350K mortgage is freaky enough, and I want it GONE fast.
**Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be?

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30 Kathy July 22, 2011 at 11:54 am

How much *total* debt do you have? (Not including mortgages. If you don’t have any other debt, answer the questions past tense.) around $12k
How did you get it? being stupid (by using credit cards)
How long has it been adding up for? years and years and years
What is your current plan for ridding it? consolidated them
Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel _____.” oh my gosh….how much room do I have to write all of the negative adjectives? horrible, guilty, stressed, sick, etc..
**Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be? to ‘think’ of the consequences before I used those damn things (c.c.’s)

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31 LB July 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Congratulations on your win!!!!

1) At the beginning of this year I had aproximately $25,000+ (not around my documents to find exact amount.)
I am currently at $3,000 of total debt. Letting it hang just in case I need a little more towards surgery.
2) I got the debt from illness, job losses, car payments, house payments, bad health insurance, etc.
3)It was adding up for about 5 years
4)My current plan for getting rid of it: pay off the last amount and never look back. SAVE. SAVE. SAVE. and go back to school without loans.
5)Debt and loans make me feel like I am getting the life sucked out of me and am entangled in a never ending prison with no sign of freedom or trying anything new.
BONUS: I wouldn’t take any of it back. I have learned a lot from my experiences and would never wish to go back. Forward is the only way to go!

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32 Edward Antrobus July 22, 2011 at 12:11 pm

(Posted on Edward’s behalf b J. Money… cuz his spam detecter sucks!)

1) ~40k $33k in student loans and the rest in credit card debt.
That’s my end. My wife owes $5-6k on a car loan.
2)Half of the student loan debt is the result of poor academic
choices, not being prepared Freshman year and loosing my merit-based
scholarship, which cost be about $10k all-together. The credit card
debt is from making bad purchasing decisions. The one that will always
stand out in my mind is spending $150 on a Lan Li aluminum computer
case when they were brand new.
3)Some of the student loans date back to 1999. Credit card debt dates
from 2000-2003. The car loan is a bit over a year old.
4)Step 1 is to get a job that will keep me employed year round. Then I
will be able to dump $500 a month towards paying off the debt and
having it gone within 8 years.
Bonus: I would have gotten a summer job in 2003. I almost had my
credit card debt paid off but wound up using it for everything that
summer. Or I would have applied to William Patterson University, who
was willing to offer me a full scholarship, but I missed the
application date.

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33 Joseph July 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm

1. Approximately $21,000 in student loans
2. Borrowing money to help finance my education and living expenses
3. It finally stopped adding up two years ago
4. I’m on an accelerated repayment plan at the moment paying about $500 a month towards my student loans.
5. My debt makes me feel distracted. I can’t concentrate completely on building wealth as I want to until it’s completely gone.
Bonus: When I was younger (in 2006) I bought a car I could barely afford at the time when I already had a car that ran just fine that was within a few years of being paid off. I regret doing this as I just barely payed off that new auto loan last November.

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34 piggy July 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm

1. 65K +$300 CC that is paid off at the end of the month
2. Student Loans and a train ticket in the EU :)
3. Since I graduated from grad school in 2007, I tried to put it off for awhile but got serious about it when I stopped living overseas and moved back to the US last fall. Since then, I’ve paid off 15K. I’m hoping to pay off another 10K by December (I’m getting a nice chunk of change from my taxes overseas–since I’m not a resident there anymore!). And maybe get it down to 45K a year from now.
4. My debt makes me feel like a loser. I just want to get rid of it so I no longer owe anyone. Once, one of my friends told me that no one would marry me because of it. I know my boyfriend could care less since he knows I’m paying it off!
5. I would have started paying off my student loans while I was in college. I just assumed everyone went into debt from college. Now I realize it doesn’t have to be that way.

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35 Jaclyn July 22, 2011 at 12:41 pm

1. How much *total* debt do you have? Probably about $40K on CC debt and $14k for a car loan. Both are me and my husband combined.
2. How did you get it? Mostly it’s my husbands but mine is shopping.
3. How long has it been adding up for? Probably 3 years for me
4. What is your current plan for ridding it? We are slowing paying it off but my husbands out of a job for 6 months. I’m working a lot so we can stay within budget. We pay more than the minimum on one card (Highest APR) so we can pay off that one fast and do a domino effect.
5. Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel very stressed and like it’s not going to go away.”
6. **Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be? Probably not buying a house. Should have paid off more debt before we bought a house.

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36 GradChick July 22, 2011 at 12:54 pm

First off…props to all who are willing to publicly own up to what they’ve got! I’m so not ready for that yet!

1. How much *total* debt do you have? (Not including mortgages. If you don’t have any other debt, answer the questions past tense.)
2. How did you get it?
3. How long has it been adding up for?
4. What is your current plan for ridding it?
5. Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel _____.”
6. **Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be?

1. About $62 on the CC right now, but it won’t be there more than a few days. About $15 in deferred student loans.
2. In the last couple of years I’ve paid off about $30K in CC debt that I built up traveling, buying gear, and basically just not having the best self-control.
3. Took about 2 years to build it up and 3 years to pay it off.
4. Now there’s only saving going on and very careful budgeting! CC is paid every month or sometimes several times a month. Student loans will be paid off after I get out of grad school. I’m hoping to pay them off fairly quickly, but honestly the interest rate is really low. Can’t say I’m too worried about it.
5. Debt makes me feel really anxious and embarrassed. I still don’t want anyone to actually know how much I had. I can see why debt can be such a stress on relationships. Glad mine didn’t come between me and anyone else!
Bonus!!! I’m not really sure. There were obviously lots of purchases that I could have lived with out. On the other hand, there was no serious damage done. I learned a lesson the hard way for sure, but like Kim said…it kind of makes me who I am today.

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37 Hannah July 22, 2011 at 1:04 pm

How much *total* debt do you have? (Not including mortgages. If you don’t have any other debt, answer the questions past tense.): I am debt free, but I had about $25k
How did you get it?: Student loans from private undergrad college
How long has it been adding up for?: It added up throughout my undergrad and for about a year afterwards.
What is your current plan for ridding it?: Went all crazy and did the Dave Ramsey thing. Paid it off in 7 months of working two jobs and not buying anything.
Finish this sentence: “My debt made me feel _____.”: Dumb. I have never used that private school degree and I hate that I wasted so much $$$ on it.
**Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be?: I just wish I could have put that $25k in a house fund instead of paying off debt. Ah well, what’s done is done.

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38 Jennifer July 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm

1. How much *total* debt do you have? (Not including mortgages. If you don’t have any other debt, answer the questions past tense.) $12K student loan, $9K car loan, $1800 left on my CC debt.
2. How did you get it? I had $15K CC debt from all the geeky sci-fi conventions I went to over an 8 year span, but I wouldn’t trade the experiences for anything. I went to England and Vancouver, Canada. I needed a new car but put some $$ down and got 2.9% financing.
3. How long has it been adding up for? Since 1995. The last thing I put on a credit card was 3 years ago.
4. What is your current plan for ridding it? CC paid off first because it’s at 11%, then student loans at 6.5%, then the car at 2.9%. It doesn’t look like I’ll have the CC paid off this year but with the tax refund next year, I will.

5. Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel _____.” Constricted for the longest time. Now that I have some buffer money in my account, even though I have debt, I can breathe easier knowing I don’t HAVE to use the CCs in an emergency.

**Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be?
Not going insanely crazy buying stuff on ebay. It was a bad addiction, costing $500 in one month. Years later, I turned around and sold nearly all of it back!

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39 Jennifer G. July 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm

1. My husband has about $15k in school debt, so I guess I have $15k in school debt.

2. By getting married to someone with school debt! Of course, school is where we met, so that’s ok :)

3. We started school in ’05, so I guess 6 years. He has been paying on it since we graduated in May ’09.

4. Right now, we are just paying the regular ole minimum payment, but I’m hoping to kick it up just a little bit.

5. I feel glad that I didn’t have to go into debt to go to school myself. Not only for myself, but that would probably double the debt we have now. It would be better to not have any debt, but it’s really okay. Just hurts a little on the day the payment is due.

Bonus: Well, that’s not really my place to say :)

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40 Leslie July 22, 2011 at 1:35 pm

I can’t take the house out of the equation since it is also debt and it is part of our “kill it” plan. Why didn’t you factor it in?

1. How much *total* debt do you have? Non-house: $25,000 all Ryan’s student loans. House: add $110,000 to that total.
2. How did you get it? Ryan’s student loans.
3. How long has it been adding up for? 5 years of college (from a 5 year school), and then we’ve been paying it down since 2008. We only got serious about killing it recently though.
4. What is your current plan for ridding it? Gazelle intensity with every extra dime dumped on it. Goal is to get the student loans done by Christmas this year, and the house by age 30.
5. Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel _____.” Frustrated
6. **Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be? He’s always said that he would go to a state school and pay cash if he could do it again.

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41 Jen @ Master the Art of Saving July 22, 2011 at 2:28 pm

1. The total: $1,263.97
2. How’d I got it- by beingt a dumb@ss and not getting insurance and then having to sign-up in-office for the Evil Credit Card.
3. How long adding up- the Evil Credit Card was born on April 12, 2011
4. Extermination plan- I’ve already paid a lot of it off ($1,000 payment helped) and am trying to fluff up the payments with whatever I can.
5. My debt makes me feel…naughty. Sometimes we just need to make mistakes so that we can learn from them.
6. My 1 take back- Going bankrupt 9 1/2 years ago. :-( I was young and such an idiot back then, it wasn’t even that much.

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42 Crystal July 22, 2011 at 3:41 pm

1. How much *total* debt do you have? Just the mortgage.
2. How did you get it? The only other debt I ever had was $8000 of college loans to my parents, which they forgave, and car debt, which I am saving for now so I can buy all future cars with cash.
3. How long has it been adding up for? I had my car loan for 2 1/2 years and my husband’s car loan for 2 years. We’ve been debt free other than the mortgage for a bit more than a year.
4. What is your current plan for ridding it? We put away $500 a month to buy any future cars outright and are paying extra towards the mortgage so we will be completely debt free in 6 years or less.
5. Finish this sentence: My debt makes me feel itchy. All debt makes me feel itchy.
**Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be? I wouldn’t have bought a new Aveo in 2005…I would have bought something with a better reputation that was used.

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43 WinrWinrChknDinr July 22, 2011 at 3:45 pm

1.) $000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.00
2.) It wasn’t always this good. It used to be about $60,000. Thank you engineering school! It was all paid off about 11 months ago.
3.) It started the first day on campus. Probably before that even. I consider myself one of the lucky ones due to the fact that I didn’t have a CC until I was 25 and gainfully employed. If I had one before that, who knows what it would have been. My CC companies have made exactly $1.00 off me my entire adult life (my mistake on a payment date). Since day one, they have been paid in full every month. Even when the balance was 5 figures.
4.) The first loan (car for $9000) was paid off on our 2nd wedding anniversary (22 months after taking out the loan). I got tired of sending them a check, so I walked in and wrote one more. Done. I had (2) student loans. Paying the monthly minimums was fine. One was at about 7.9% and the other was at 2.2%. I got sick of paying the higher interest / lower balance one, so I sent one more payment. Done. The other I started to pay down faster. Then, on my birthday, I got sick of sending them a check, so I sent one more and it was all gone.
5.) Honestly, the debt never made me feel anything. I was like everyone else who was convinced it was “good debt”. It never strained us. We weren’t month to month on bills. We have always earned more than we spent, so it was easy for us to have what we wanted and still have money left over at the end of the month. I just didn’t like sending them monthly payments, so I made them go away. At the time, we didn’t budget either. We just floated along making all of the payments and living how we wanted. I know and understand how blessed we are and how we are pretty different from everyone else in this regard. Now we budget and plan our money (it was nice to find an extra $2000 every month for savings).
6.) I could have gone to a different school for less money, but that is about it. I wouldn’t change much else.

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44 Kris July 22, 2011 at 4:36 pm

How much *total* debt do you have? No debt now, but I always seemed to owe just under $7,000 when I wasn’t trying hard to pay it off.
How did you get it? I spent it $20 or $40 at a time. Dining out, clothes, stuff for the house, gadgets, and general stuff.
How long has it been adding up for? I held onto that debt from age 19 to age 38.
What is your current plan for ridding it? I cut back, earned more and just decided to get serious and pay it off. I’d always thought that I would just work until I was dead, but I realized that I actually would love to retire one day.
Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel disappointed.” When I was in debt, I would try and be good, but then I’d get my credit card bill in the mail and realize I hadn’t lived up to what I’d hoped to do financially.
**Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be? I wouldn’t have carried my credit card with me anywhere. It was too easy to use.

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45 Sami July 22, 2011 at 4:43 pm

How much *total* debt do you have? (Not including mortgages. If you don’t have any other debt, answer the questions past tense.)
I have $925.75.

How did you get it?
Some of it is the remainder of medical bills from hurting my knee back in January with no insurance, some of it is the remainder of a joint cell-phone account that wasn’t handled properly during my divorce, and the rest is poor decision-making – an overdrafted bank account and extra late “final bill” for my cable service in my old apartment.

How long has it been adding up for?
The oldest thing, the phone bill, is from October 2010, when I asked my (ex) husband to move out.

What is your current plan for ridding it?
Well, I was ignoring everything because I make close to minimum wage, and I had to fulfill my lease on my apartment and pay other bills. I should have been communicating with the companies and at least paying what I could, but I was so embarrassed and overwhelmed that I kind of just let it go… Which had VERY bad consequences.
I had been waiting to ship out for my job as a linguist in the Air Force since November. I already had a waiver for my bad credit, and I was going to leave August 9th. I found out July 8th that I could not only no longer ship on my scheduled date, but could not join at all because the phone bill went into collections and showed up on my credit report.
This has been really devastating for me. Right now, since my lease ended and I was expecting to leave soon, I am living with my mom. So the majority of my income is now dedicated to paying off ALL my debts ASAP.

Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel _____.”
Ashamed and frustrated. I don’t have any acceptable or justifiable debts (with the exception of the medical bills). I should have learned my lesson when I was 18 and destroyed my credit the first time. I paid off all my over-limit, past due credit cards before I got married so I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about bringing the debt into the marriage. Now fast-forward, I’m 22, divorced, struggling with the same kind of bad decisions. I have to re-evaluate my entire future, because I blew my opportunity with the Air Force and lost a path that was really important to me. =(

**Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be?
If I could only pick ONE thing to change, it would definitely have been to join the AF straight out of high school instead of waiting all these years, because that would have changed everything else. I wouldn’t have gotten married too young, I wouldn’t have had time to float and make bad decisions, and I would already be well on my way in the career it took me so long to decide on.

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46 brooklyn money July 22, 2011 at 4:46 pm

These responses make me very scared for the US economy. There is so much deleveraging that has to happen still. Everyone has basically bought all they can afford and more during the crazy heyday and now there will be hell to pay.

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47 Carrie July 22, 2011 at 4:48 pm

i only have my current car loan. i could sell some stock to pay it off in a heartbeat but my interest rate is so low i’m betting on being able to make money faster by keeping the loan and not selling my stock. my dad came with me when i bought my car because he knows more about cars than me and just about died at the interest rate, he’s been getting loans to buy some real estate and told me that if i was planning to pay off the car loan early i should give him a loan instead at a higher interest rate so he could save money and i could make money.

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48 Jennifer Lissette July 22, 2011 at 5:24 pm

1) My husband and I used to have $106,000 in debt.

2) That debt came in a myriad of ways. Credit card bills, an expensive wedding, medical bills, student loans and a pricy second mortgage. Seems the only thing we were missing was a car note.

3) It started in 2011 and kept on racking up until 2009.

4) How did I get rid of that debt? I got pregnant, lol. Seriously though, dropping down to one income made me and my husband reevaluate everything. We trimmed our budget to the bone and we dedicated every spare dollar to our debt. Whether it was a big bonus from work or a $5 birthday check from my grandma, it all went to the debt. We paid off $106,000 in 18 months, with the last payment going out in September 2010.

5) My debt used to make me feel overwhelmed. The first time we sat down and figured out that we were carrying six figures in debt… there are no words for how awful that was. It felt like a mountain we could never finish climbing.

6) If I could take back any of the debt it would be the second mortgage, meaning the house. We were young and silly (23 years old) to buy a house with only 5% down. But for the most part, I’ve forgiven myself for it. The world is a crazy place, letting a couple 20-somethings dig themselves into a hole that deep. Yet, my husband and I learned a lot about finance, ourselves and each other by teaming up and knocking that debt out.

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49 Jennifer Lissette July 22, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Oops, that should read that our debt started in 2001, not 2011.

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50 Jessica, The Debt Princess July 22, 2011 at 7:14 pm

1.My last calculation was around $33,000 split pretty evenly between credit cards and school loans.
2. Shopping and college
3. 18years!
4. Get a job, follow the Dave Ramsey plan
5. My debt makes me feel bound. Totally and completely bound by my debt.
6. I wish I had never gotten my first credit card. I wish I had been given an education about finances & debt. (PS. that is what my whole blog is about.)

And congratulations Danielle. You have worked so hard! I hope to be more like you when I grow up.

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51 Janet July 23, 2011 at 1:54 am

1.) Total about 10,000
2.) Got it by using a credit card to pay Divorce Lawyers ( original divorce and then contempt against the ex) and a return to college for a career change.
3.) 4 years
4.) Pay it down as quickly as possible by adding every possible extra penny to the balance.
5.) My debt makes me feel anxious because I’m jobless but challenged to find that extra buck every month. Frugal living is a little bit fun.
6.) If I could take one thing back it would’ve been to understand that my finances and credit are mine alone and I should have protected myself from the moment I made my first paycheck.

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52 Ashlie July 23, 2011 at 3:24 am

I want to say to Kim. I completely get where you are coming from. Having a support system in God is important for several reasons that apparently not too many people are aware of.
@ “KimMakesMeMad- Attacking another person for their beliefs is so terribly sad. I feel sorry for you and hope to GOD you are able to crawl out of that dark hole soon.

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53 Robyn July 23, 2011 at 6:49 am

1.Total Debt: None at the moment, but max ~$36000.
2.How I got it: I quit my job and traveled around the country for about 3.5 years. I worked some part time jobs and put some of the money I earned into retirement / emergency savings while I lived off of 0% credit cards as a nomad, paying the minimums out of savings. I had a nice chunk of change that I had saved from my full-time job, so I never felt really worried and I never touched any of my retirement savings.
3.How long it built up: 3.5 years
4.How I got rid of it: I got a full-time job again, cleaned out all but $5000 of my savings, then put all my extra money on my debt until all but the CC that forgot I had a temporary 0% interest rate was paid off. When they finally remembered that I should be paying some interest, I paid it off with the new money I had in savings.
5.“My debt (used to) make me feel….” free. I was able to play while still having a safety net in savings, and it wasn’t costing me anything in interest.
6.**Bonus** I’d change nothing. I had a great time that I mostly planned for.

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54 skrpune July 23, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Hrm…I keep trying to post, but keep getting told I’m spammy. Am I just too verbose??

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55 skrpune July 24, 2011 at 1:14 am

(let’s try this again…)
1. Total: ~$48K

2. Biggest chunk is from hubby’s student loans, next biggest chunk is from mine (just finishing up grad school), and then the remainder of a refinanced car loan.

3. Hubby’s loans are from back in the late 90′s (undergrad & beginning grad), and the others are from 2009.

4. Pay extra beyond the structured payments whenever I can, and usually focus on one debt at a time when doing so…it makes the results come that much faster and gives me a sense of satisfaction & accomplishment.

5. …PISSED OFF! We’re doing pretty well overall, and we’re aggressively putting money away so we can plan better for the future, but I’d rather be putting an extra $500+/month towards retirement than giving it to someone else.

6. I regret spending our discretionary income on frivolous things rather than towards retirement.

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56 Gene July 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm

1. How much *total* debt do you have? Nothing now really other than mortgage. I have 2 credit cards. One I use for budgeted items and pay off entirely every month. The other I have $150 on and pay the minimum each month (just to keep it active and bump my credit rating 25pts). I used to have credit card balances of about $6000 (around 1995-1997).

2. How did you get it? It was addictive. I started out using it for necessary things like car repairs and then it progressed to Christmas presents & eating out.

3. How long has it been adding up for? Took 3-5 years to accumulate.

4. What is your current plan for ridding it? I credit my exposure to my (then) in-laws. My (then) wife’s aunt & uncle lent us a book on tape for living debt free and we listened to it on our drive home. The message took and we paid off our debts over a couple of years. We just started taking a significant part of our discretionary money and using it to pay much more than the required minimum.

5. Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel like a chump.” When I would look at the total cost of something I bought on credit, the extra cost of the interest paid almost made me nauseated.

**Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be? Using my credit cards for anything other than a true emergency.

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57 Ryan July 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm

1. $12,760ish

2. 1st year of college and an $1,800 plane ticket for study abroad.

3. About 11 months. It’ll continue to add up over the next 4 years (staying for my masters) unless I get some bada$$ scholarships or start making a lot more money. Planning on owing around 50K when I graduate.

4. Pretend it doesn’t exist. JK. A little bit. I’m going to start making the monthly interest payments on my PLUS loan if I can afford them. Pay my plane ticket off before my no interest offer from AMEX expires. Student loans are deferred until December of 2015. Probably opt for the 25 year repayment plan so my minimum payment is low, but send in as much as I can afford.

5. My debt makes me feel like everyone else. College wouldn’t be possible for a lot (most?) of students these days without loans so my situation isn’t anything special.

6. I would take back how much I spent during HS. I didn’t save a penny from my first job. Dumb dumb dumb.

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58 J. Money July 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Woah!!! Lovin’ the comments guys – really interesting to read and learn from! Here are the first batches of my responses – more to come later ;)

@Jenn – Sorry :( My commenting system def. gets wonky sometimes – esp. in regards to talking about c/c debt and all that – it thinks it’s spammy… and sometimes it’s right!
@Kim – Ouch. Sorry to hear that, Kim :( I’m glad you’re starting to get on track and paying attention a lot more now, though! That’s great. I’d do my best to stay away from settlement and collection offers and all that (scary stuff!), but you have to do what you have to do. I remember having an “emergency” credit card in college too – and in fact, I still have it and use it! But since the bill used to go to my parents directly, there was no way I could get away with anything – and I think it’s def. helped me over time :) Thanks for sharing your story with us today.
@Andy – Haha, well I think that’s an EXCELLENT way to go into debt. People like to say the loans and debt aren’t worth it, but I 100% believe your life will be forever helped because of it. We can always find ways to make money, but an education is beast. Well, I guess you can get one of those anytime too in life, but you get what I’m saying ;)
@rainbowfish – Amen to that! Life is all about focusing on the future, and not the past. We just do our best to stay on track and enjoy it as much as we can! :)
@No Debt MBA – Thanks for motivating ME! I am *screwed* with my mortgage debt, so you’re def. affecting my thought process when it comes to all sorts of debt :) And speaking of which, do you ever plan on taking out a loan for a house/condo one day? Or will you be paying straight-up cash for EVERYTHING in your life?
@Jenna – That’s wonderful! Congrats!! I think it’s a VERY smart move too w/ grad schoo, good job :)
@Kim and KimMakesMeMad – I def. think it’s a healthy mix of both :) Yes you have to actively work on things, but yes God has a plan for us (my personal belief) and watches over us. That’s unfortunate about your mom, Kim, but I’m REALLY glad you learned from her! Even if it was to *not* do that :)
@Erin – Woahhhhh, I can FEEL your passion coming through that comment! Haha…. and usually I don’t say it, but WOW your use of “fucking” was great here! :) That should be how those words are used — to make a point and express severe concern. Not every other word just cuz we’re used to it, haha… A+ for your f-bomb usage. And I’M SO PROUD OF YOU for maxing out your 401k to your employer’s match! That’s great! True that it does get tricky now w/ *what* to put it in, but at least you’re 80% golden. I always have to ask an advisor, or parents, when I’m adding new money to a place – I never know all the way either.
@Sarah – I’d love to have seen you do your dance there ;) It’s too bad you’re not coming to BlogHer, cuz there will be a LOT of me dancing! Haha… good job, my frugal little friend.
@Nicole – “I would rather go into debt on memories and experiences, than things!” YES!!!! I absolutely love that. And agree with it 100% :) That’s really the only place I spend my money too – on travel and experiences. I probably would have bought my dream house too if I were in your spot because come on – it’s your DREAM house! haha… and it looks like you’re responsible and have a great job locked down, so you def. know what you’re doing. I wouldn’t recommend it to others out there, but once you have your head on straight you can take big risks and adapt even if they don’t pay off. I really hope you sell your other house soon or rent it out though, that would be really tough watching it go vacant for so long.
@Sarah – I think you’re doing well too :) Having a Masters is awesome!! Congrats.
@graduate.living – Haha, well I’m proud of you! I think that’s a wonderful way to spend your money :)
@HP – Yeah, DC! And I’d feel like my education was working harder too when the debt goes down :) I’ll be starting to pay off my mortgages more in a bit, and I’m PRAYING I get mad motivation from it so I can keep it up! Congrats on the yearly increases like that, that’s a great plan.
@Trinnie – Well it’s a good thing you’re financially smarter in your older days ;) Mrs. new baby mama soon!!! woo!!
@Beckey & Jeff – Sorry :( I hate how it gets weird sometimes, I haven’t figured out how to fix yet.
@lorakathleen – Love the part time job idea though! That’s great :) When you can dedicate a paycheck straight to your debt like that, good job. Sucks on the shopping stuff, but at least travel creates memories! I never feel bad for spendin money on Travel – it’s my fave.
@Jenny~Z – I’m glad you’re out of that abusive relationship! That $hit pisses me off when people abuse others. What a waste of a human. Just messed up… I’m SO glad you were able to go to school and it’s all paying off now! Yeah you have debt, but it’s SUCH a better trade off – congrats!! :)
@Brian – Haha, yes you could have put in more hours but then what about the hanging out and partying? :) I worked part-time too, but no way I would have increased the hours cuz everything else really helped me get through it all successsfully and not super-stressed.
@Kaye – Oh no! Timeshares are DEF. trouble most times… I actually got suckered into WORKING for one once (hah!) and after I started selling them I realized that the whole thing was pretty much a bad idea *unless* you would really take advantage of them the entire time. My parents had one growing up and we always used them for family trips and they were AWESOME, but for most people they’re not so good. I sold a ton of them in my first 2 months working there, and then started feeling pretty skeeved out and realized it wasn’t for me… plus, I hate sales. I’m glad I got to learn about them and all though, really helps me keep things in perspective. Keep working toward that debt, week by week! As you mentioned, even if it’s going slow at times, at least it’s GOING! That’s very very important for sure :)
@Sarah – :)
@Allison – Awww, well at least now you know and are on track! :) And debt from grad school is always a-ok in my books, so congrats on accomplishing that!
@Cecil – Oh wow, yeah that’s harsh :( It’s really hard saying NO for sure (I have trouble with it all the time) but I think you’re a lot wiser now than you were back in 2000 so that’s at least good! I would love to see you be able to pursue your dreams and be financially free. Sending nothing but positive vibes and motivation, brotha! You can do it! It’s all just temporary right now :)
@Chris – Wow. Yeah, that’s a LOT of money, but man – you guys are KILLING it with the payments! That’s incredible!! I can’t imagine how much you’ll have extra once you pay it all off, way to stick to it :)
@Melissa – Oh man, I LOVE that answer!! Yes, I am alllll for having more breathing room and fitting in FUN and relax-time too during college – even if it meant getting into more debt. If you’re constantly on the go and getting stressed out, it def. plays a big role in your grades and overall happiness. I had this friend who would work NON-STOP on his studies – like, 18 hours a day, no joke – and would *never* come out to parties or just take breaks with me. He said he needed to do this or his grades would fail, and I couldn’t get him to leave his room for the life of me. It turned out he got pretty average grades, if not below average, and I feel like he just really wasted a lof of opportunities to be a “college student” ya know? Even if you don’t party or drink or do any of that crazy stuff, your body still needs to unwind and relax here and there. I really feel like it helps w/ eveything in life, no matter what you do. Extremes are never good. (same goes with hardcore saving money or paying debt – you have to have built-in releases)
@Diane – YES! $350k in mortage debt IS freaky! I have $360! Haha… and currently working on a similar plan to your 15 year deal ;) Can’t WAIT to get started – I’m so tired of dicking around w/ it…
@Kathy – Awww, well I’m glad you’re now WORKING on a game plan! That is a great great step :) Hopefully you’ll crush them sooner than later.
@LB – Yup! Forward IS the way to go, you’re totally right. Sucks about illness and job losses,etc, but sending happy thoughts that you’re on a roll upward now! Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us :)
@Edward Antrobus – Oh man, that is harsh – I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you get a decent job soon my friend! Always been a big fan of you, so wanna hear some good news soon :) Maybe your e-book will take off??
@Joseph – Oh yeah, I def. like that word for debt – “distracted!” That def. does it to ya!
@piggy – What? That is jacked up of your friend, man. I mean yeah – I’m sure there *are* people who take debt super seriously like that – but I’m a firm believer that love conquers all. Maybe that’s the romantic in me, but you can always find ways to make money and pay debt, but you can’t always find that true love. You stick to what you’re doing and just keep rockin! :)
@Jaclyn – Awww, I’m sorry to hear that :( Totally undestand the “buying a house” part though – we shouldn’t have done it either. At least we now learn and move on w/ a game plan!
@GradChick – Well you’re doing good opening up here on the blog w/ all of us! That’s great :) And one of my favorite parts of blogging – we can all say whatever the hell we want and remain as anonymous, or not, as we wish. Feel free to ask/chat w/ anyone here – we’r all trying to get better and help each other out!
@Hannah – “Went all crazy and did the Dave Ramsey thing.” Haha, I like that. So cool that one person/theory can just change your mentality and help so much! Well done! :)
@Jennifer – Haha, I can relate to all that geeky conference stuff and all, I LOVE going to conferences my self! That are out of my passion, rather than forced w/ work and all that… they’re experiences you’ll never forget! (And which you can usually get great friends and relationships out of too). Good job getting back on track though :)
@Jennifer G. – Haha… this made me laugh :)
@Leslie – I took it out because we just did a “5 For Friday” on mortgage-only debt. And I wanted to focus solely on other debt for now :) Here’s the post if you’d like to check it out though – CRAZY amount of responses! 5 For Friday: A Peek Into Your Home
@Jen @ Master the Art of Saving – Well you’re certainly on the right track now, miss naughty girl! :) It def. helps us push forward and stay out of trouble in the future, good job.

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59 J. Money July 24, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Now time for the others :) Took me a while to read/respond to all y’all — but I can’t NOT! You guys all took the time to share, and I wanna do the same w/ my thoughts. Happy Sunday!!

@Crystal – Haha… itchy? That’s a first :)
@WinrWinrChknDinr – Haha, nice use of 0′s ;) I’m all about it being “good debt” too, no matter what the newage people are saying. You guys are killing it now and on the up and up! Very very well done, my friend.
@Kris – Well GOOD JOB knocking it out!! Having debt for 19 years is a looong time, but you finally killed it and now living the good life ;) Congrats!
@Sami – Oh no, I can’t believe that! They wouldn’t let you join the Air Force?? Wow. I have never heard of that before, how sad :( There’s no way to re-submit and sign up after all your debt is paid off 100%? I can’t imagine that… what a horrible way to learn a lesson, I”m sorry you’re going through that right now. On the PLUS side you are sooooooo YOUNG still! 22? Man, you’ve got your entire life to look forward to still. SO young. I’m 31 and still consider MYSELF young! haha… I really hope things get better fast for you :) keep knocking down that debt and you’ll be back at it in no time. Keep us updated! (and if you ever feel like writing about it – if it helps you to get it out – let me know and perhaps we can do a guest post for you here :) a good lesson for others to avoid so they don’t get stuck too!) Thanks so much for sharing, I never knew it could be so harsh.
@brooklyn money – Well, I think it’s always been that way… and most people are back at it again thinking the worst has passed!
@Carrie – Haha, I like your dad – he sounds like a smart man! :)
@Jennifer Lissette – Yeah girl, and now you’re sittin’ pretty! That’s very VERY impressive – knocking $100k+ off like that. You def. deserve a hearty pat on the back :)
@Jessica, The Debt Princess – Nice! I bet the blog def helps you out ;) It really helps me stay on track more!
@Janet – Oh, that sucks :( $10k isn’t the *worst* though, so at least that’s good! It’s def. do-able over time :) Esp once you find a decent job, which I hope comes sooner than later for you – that can be frustrating.
@Ashlie – Support systems are DEF. good, you’re right.
@Robyn – Wowww, that is great!! LOVE stories like that, and a perfect way to take advantage of credit cards :) Make them work for YOU! Well done my friend, that is hotness all around. (any plans to do it all again? :))
@skrpune – Yeah, that can def. be frustrating. It’s always better feeling to give yourself $500 than creditors ;) Though I guess you already got the money early on, which is why you owe it not, haha… just doesn’t feel the same though. Hope you guys can keep continue paying it off nicely!
@Gene – “Chump” – I like that! Haha… good one. I wonder what that tape was you listened to? Do you remember? I was playing around with some mortgage calculators this weekend and it REALLY pissed me off! We end up paying DOUBLE our mortgage by the time the 30 years is up! F that, I’m gonna start paying that bad boy off early and nix it once and for all, that’s just ridiculous.
@Ryan – That’s awesome you studied abroad – very good use of your $1,800 for sure, I’d do that in a heartbeat :) It’s all about experience and getting cultured up in this life!

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60 Gene July 24, 2011 at 9:56 pm

J. Money – “@Gene – “Chump” – I like that! Haha… good one. I wonder what that tape was you listened to? Do you remember? I was playing around with some mortgage calculators this weekend and it REALLY pissed me off! We end up paying DOUBLE our mortgage by the time the 30 years is up! F that, I’m gonna start paying that bad boy off early and nix it once and for all, that’s just ridiculous.”

This would have been in the early 90′s. I can’t remember what the tape was (series of tapes actually – ahh cassettes). But it was a good thing I listened to it. It sparked an interest in personal finance that has served me well.
I agree about the mortgage perspective. I re-financed (and paid off my motorcycle) with a 20 year. I probably could have swung the 15, but I didn’t want to paint myself into a corner with a high payment. The interest on the 20 year wasn’t much higher than the 15 and I can always pay ahead. In fact I am starting that next month and will basicaly be paying it off in 15 years. Optimistically, the payoff of the mortage will coincide with my 55th birthday and my 401k balance hitting $1,000,000. I think that that will be a good time to retire. :))

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61 J. Money July 24, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Nice!! You’re an inspiration my man, we can all learn from you :) I haven’t announced anything on my site yet, but I may try to go hardcore and knock out our entire mortgage in 10 years. All f’ing $360,000 of it, arghhhh…. but when I see we’d pay $300k+ in 30 years it drives me bonkers! and plus, the sooner i have zero debts/major bills, the sooner I can truly do “whatever i want.” I have a lot of freedom now, but I still have money on the mind… I’d like to not have to think about that if I didn’t want to and just work to work and have fun completely. I wonder if blogs will be around still by then? :)

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62 Gene July 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I can’t argue with the desire to get debt free as quickly as possible. After all if I didn’t have to pay my mortgage right now, I’d have another $1100 a month to play with.

However, I would caution against going “hardcore”. That really makes it sound like you are thinking about living like a pauper to put every penny towards your mortgage.

I have read many comments about people that live this way (what I would call excessively beneath their means). And not to discourage fiscal responsibility, but I believe that you should seek balance in life.

I attempt to find a balance between planning for the future and enjoying my life in the here and now. I don’t have any debt except my mortgage. And I put 16% of my pay into my 401k (plus employer’s 6%). I have a significant EF if you include my gold and silver investments. And I’m starting to accelerate payments on my mortgage. But however much I love my future self and don’t want him to eat cat food when he retires, I also want my present self to live a full and enjoyable life. I mean otherwise what’s the point?

My major outlet for recreation is my motorcycle. I take several trips a year with multiple groups. I try to minimize the cost so I can take as many trips as I can and I don’t go into debt to go on a trip. But I probably spend $5,000 – $7,000 per year on this “hobby”.

If I sold my bike, put that money and the majority of my discressionary income towards my mortgage, I could have it paid off in about 8 years (versus the 14 years I have planned). But that would be 8 years of missing out on an activity that I derive a great deal of enjoyment from and share with many friends. And back of the envelope calculations show that I’d only save about $20,000 – $25,000 in interest over that period.

Overall, I do take the long view of my finances. But I don’t sacrifice everything now just to be richer in the future. Also, where does it stop? Once you pay off the morgage, you could put all that extra money right back into investments. After all, you are already used to living like a poor person now. At some point you have to find your balance. Otherwise you are just accumulating wealth for your beneficiaries. (cue the family fighting over your estate)

My ex’s father is that guy. He had a 6 figure income while she was growing up (back in the 70′s and 80′s when it really meant something). Their house was paid off when she was a toddler. If he’s not worth at least two mil by now I’m a chinchilla. They had a lot of money but you wouldn’t know it by his behavior. He forced them to walk on the sides of the steps to make the carpet last longer in the middle! (she dislocated her finger when she fell once because of this). He bought all generic food and would actually sew the elastic band back into his tighty-whities when they fell apart (multiple times – I don’t know what his criteria was for finally ditching his old underwear, but DAMN!). From the way he treated money you would think that he was raised during the Great Depression. Why treat yourself that way? And especially why treat your family that way? It goes way beyond being responsible financially. (and who wants peanut butter you can pour out of the container?- Yuck!)

I look at it this way, how would I feel if right after I sacrifced everything and reached whatever arbitrary goal I set I got into an accident and was lying there dying. I know that I wouldn’t be thinking “Gee, I’m sure glad I got my mortgage paid off early” or “Glad I’ve got that $1,000,000 in the bank”. I would be sad that I didn’t enjoy the fruits of my labor more.

Given (what I consider) my balanced lifestyle, I of course would not be thrilled to be shuffling off my mortal coil. But if I died tomorrow, I wouldn’t feel like I cheated myself out of having a full and rich life either.

James Dean sums it up nicely:
“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.”

After all, our financial planning is just a dream that we make happen.

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63 Christine July 25, 2011 at 4:03 pm

How much *total* debt do you have? $41,434.44

How did you get it? $27,165.99 is SLs (really amazed at the amount of debt in the comments is attached to SLs!)…that and irresponsibility for not paying it back in full each month.

How long has it been adding up for? A while. Actually, I consolidated all my loans, excluding SLs, and have been paying that off. But a current divorce had me buying a new (ya, ya…went for the top of the line) washer/dryer and taking out a loan to cover living/child care expenses for a while (don’t ask where I took the loan out).

What is your current plan for ridding it? Actually, I am considering selling the new washer/dryer set to pay back that credit card. I will buy a refurbished set for a few hundred. I am getting a roomate to help pay down my debt. And making the children get a job (j/k on the last part).

Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel _____.” Like I will never grow up because it keeps me from taking those nice vacations or buying a house, etc… It doesn’t allow me to afford the lifestyle I want. Or I should say it doesn’t allow me to own the lifestyle I want.

**Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be? Never Ever to have opened or misused that checkbook I got when I was way younger. I thought it was okay to bounce checks. Started off on the wrong foot.

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64 J. Money July 27, 2011 at 12:06 am

@Gene – Oh, for sure! I’ll actually continue to live my lifestyle the exact same way ;) I’ll just be trading saving more w/ paying off my mortgage. I’ll still travel, still do my hobbies (which is pretty much this blog and other online projects) and still drink my beer and be merry. To be honest I’m not sure what I’m SAVING for anymore. My dream was to make a living blogging and now I’m there – 7 months in and happy. I have plenty of cash in the bank, and whenever I earn extra I don’t get *as* excited anymore because it just goes into “the pot.” Now, it’ll go toward my mortgages and I can work on another mission again. A much MUCH harder one ;) It’ll take some time, and maybe longer than 10 years or whatever I end up going for, but I’m tired of delaying it and I’m not good at going at half-speed. We’ll see how it goes after the first few months, but I plan on using only extra money to pay them all off. Def appreciate your thoughts, and sharing your own story (and your ex’s father’s!) with us though — I couldn’t agree more! And actually, I may even snag it and use it in a future post on this site ;) You have a good way with words and you conveyed it all nicely. So thanks!!

@Christine – Awww, you can do it though Christine – you know I have faith in you! Sucks about divorce stuff, I”m sorry :( Sending you positive vibes!

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65 Gene July 27, 2011 at 10:31 am

Glad you enjoyed the perspective.
Gene

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66 No Debt MBA July 28, 2011 at 9:10 am

@J$ – Glad I can motivate you! You are not screwed with your mortgage debt; DC’s a good area to own property in (assuming the government doesn’t collapse with all this debt ceiling $h*t). It could be much worse.

As for me, we were actually under contract to buy a house with a mortgage until I decided to go to business school in another state and we pulled out. The mortgage was a way to keep our assets diversified and the rate on it was like sub 4% fixed for a 15 year so the cost was not high especially if we pre-paid it. So I totally believe that debt can have its place in my finances as a source of leverage, but I just approach it with a good dose of skepticism. Don’t know when we might try next to buy real estate but depending on the circumstances it could either way, mortgage or all cash. Let’s just say that I like having the option of doing either and deciding on a case by case basis.

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67 StackingCash July 28, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Had to do some backtracking from today’s blog post. Quite interesting. Regarding Gene’s post and No Debt MBA’s post I do find those fascinating. Lately I’ve been looking at debt from another viewpoint. The ability to buy a house with all cash is f*cking sexy! Granted tying up that amount of cash in a home is scary, the freedom of having no mortgage is powerful. I do believe it is time for unconventional thinking in regards to personal finance. Not many people think a mortgage is a bad debt, but looking at the total cost of your interest on your house (300k?), I would say that’s pretty bad IMHO. I’m actually impressed that you intend to pay it off unlike most who would just declare bankruptcy and run away. I do agree with Gene regarding balance, but in the words of Debt Ninja, punch that mortgage in the face! Show no mercy!

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68 Kevin I July 28, 2011 at 3:05 pm

1. $3,400 car note, and I’m staring down a possible $700 in cc debt for next statement.

2. The car note came from ignorance. Our clunker died and we decided to pick up a used rental car. Great price and everything, but it was more than we could afford and I was too proud to admit it. We made a bunch of mistakes (negotiating based on monthly payment instead of total price, little money down, buying quickly, accepting a loan we didn’t fully understand). The credit card hit came from a few months emergency depleting our emergency fund, followed by some anxiety based shopping and fast food binges.

3. The car note for about four years of slowly chipping away at it, the credit card hit is brand new and still only a strong possibility.

4. Slashing the budget over the next few months to get rid of the credit hit, then if the budget proves livable supercharging the emergency fund and then throwing extra cash at the car loan.

5. “My debt makes me feel inadequate and foolish.”

6. I would have saved much more when I was living at home after college with a good job. I full on decimated my student loans, but treated all other income as “fun” money instead of thinking about building a good financial foundation.

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69 J. Money August 2, 2011 at 2:57 am

@Gene – Heck yeah I did!
@No Debt MBA – It’s a damn good option to have, indeed. You’re a smarty!
@StackingCash – Haha… debt ninja just emailed me oddly enough ;) But yeah totally – I hate mortgage debt and those damn calculators scared the bejesus outta me. Now I’m just playing with the numbers and trying to figure out the best way to do this w/out driving myself crazy :) We’ll get there…
@Kevin I – I was bad w/ my money after college too – esp when living w/ mom & dad. I’d go back in a heartbeat if I could! and my wife wouldn’t divorce me! haha… better we learn now than never :)

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70 Kat Skull August 19, 2011 at 11:10 am

How much *total* debt do you have? $30K student loans and $5K in consumer debt
How did you get it? Shopping, always needing something *new* to wear
How long has it been adding up for? Since I was 18, so 6 years
What is your current plan for ridding it? I made a budget last month, and I’ve cut down on spending for myself (besides school)
Finish this sentence: “My debt makes me feel _____.” like I can’t have any fun!
**Bonus** If there was one thing you could take back over the years (re: your debt), it would be? Drinking on my credit cards because I’m still paying off my 21st birthday…

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71 J. Money August 19, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Wowww, haha…. and I totally know that feeling! Good work starting up that budget though – that’s a perfect way to get workin’ on it! (love the blog too – just poked over and scrolled a bit :))

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