To Do: Be Free of Credit Card Debt

July 11, 2012 - Alisha M.
If you’re overwhelmed by credit card debt, I know exactly how you feel. I moved to the DC area with my husband about five years ago with so few possessions that everything we owned fit into a Jeep Liberty. We had just returned from serving in the Peace Corps, decided we wanted to live in the DC area, found jobs, an apartment, and then relocated. Kind of a bold move, but we did it, and then it was time to begin our dream life in the city, right?
Wrong! We were woefully unprepared for the cost of living in this area. Our meager savings and entry-level salaries weren’t nearly enough to cover our initial expenses and, within three months, our credit card debt tallied almost $10,000.
What I learned over the next two years is that it takes way longer to get out of debt than it takes to get into it, but it is possible and it’s a huge relief to make that final payment. It was really exciting to be free of credit card debt and have extra money to do the things I wanted to do, like travel.
I learned a lot from my experience and hope that I can help others going through the same situation by sharing the following tips:
  • Make a budget. A budget is critical for all types of financial planning. Read this article at to learn six reasons why you NEED a budget – whether you have debt or not. Bonus Tip: Put your credit cards away in a safe place so they’re not easily accessible when you’re tempted to purchase something not in the budget.
  • Devise a strategy. Our strategy was to transfer our balances to a credit card that was offering zero interest for 18 months. While that may not be an option for you, learn about other debt management strategies in this article at
  • Pay as much as you can each month. Did you know that it will take 10 years and $1,014 of interest to pay off a $2,000 balance with a 10% APR if you only pay the minimum payment? Use this Credit Card Repayment Calculator  on The Dream Big Site to figure out how long it will take to pay off your balance. The more you pay each month, the less time it will take and the less interest you will pay. Bonus Tip: Put any extra money you receive from gifts, bonuses, etc., toward your debt to pay it off even faster.
  • Don’t give up. Getting out of debt takes time and perseverance.You may get frustrated, but do your best to remember how much brighter things will look when you are no longer weighed down by debt and can instead focus on the future.
Have you overcome credit card debt? Do you have any tips to share? Please feel free to share your story with other readers. Or if you need an in-depth analysis on personal finance matters, why not Ask the Experts?

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