A few days ago I read in the paper that the national average consumer debt was $24,775 in March. For a few moments, I felt good about myself. After all, with a personal consumer debt of only $24,283.60, I was decidedly below average!
The feeling dissipated very quickly, and I resolved once again that I have got to do something about my massive credit card debt. And in my case it really is all credit card debt, since I own my car free and clear. It is my pride and joy. So whenever anyone looks askew at my '93 Dodge Grand Caravan, I announce exactly that: “It's my pride and joy. It's paid for!” And their look goes away. Maybe it shouldn't. At this point, parts of the interior are actually being held together by duct tape. But I don't care. I figure I'm doing my bit for the environment by not buying a new (used) car for as long as possible. Lack of money, of course, has nothing to do with it. Ha ha.
Anyway, I had this crazy idea about how to finally get a handle on my credit card debt:
If I could come up with $100 200 times, my debt would essentially be gone. Or at least be at a significantly more manageable level. (And, yeah, I realize that I'm accruing interest charges all the while, but I tend to minimize that by moving my balances around when I get those low interest rate balance transfer offers. A sure sign, I know, that I'm in serious trouble. Suze Orman told me so.)
So I told my idea to a few people. My ex-husband. A couple of neighbors. A friend. And they all laughed at me.
I mean, seriously! If I could come up with $100 200 times, wouldn't I have done it by now?
But the more I think about it, the more I think that it's a great idea. And I'm going to try to do it. A little ebay here, a refund there. Sell a little jewelry, maybe a kidney...
My one rule (other than that everything needs to be done honestly and above board) is that the funds have to be kept completely separate from my ordinary budget. If you can call it that. I mean, I have carried this level of debt for a few years now, and while it has leveled off (indicating that apparently I do appear to have some modicum of self-control), I cannot for the life of me get it to go down. So this money needs to be completely separated from my regular level of spending. Because, let's face it, I'm just not prepared to give up People Magazine or Netflix or my kids. Or my Papa Johns habit. And don't even get me started on Amazon. And cutting the little corners that I am able to cut, like changing my landline phone plan from unlimited to limited and cutting out $20 a month, just don't seem to make a difference. I mean, it's not like POOF! that $20 is just sitting there magically staring me in the face at the end of the month. Nope, it's gone, merged with all the other funds.
So starting tomorrow, in addition to my usual efforts at not having my credit card debt go UP, I am going to start searching my life for that magic $100. 200 times.
I give myself two years to get debt free. That's when my eldest heads to college and the financial fun really starts!