Mid-March 2013 Debt Balance Update

credit card

In January my credit card debt was maxed out at an all-time high of $30,340 on one card. How can someone still in school (grad school) with no assets or collateral be given a limit of over $30,000? That’s a good question. Someone should call Citibank and ask them.

As of March 16, my current credit card debt now stands at $24,998.  I’ve been throwing all the money I make from selling my stuff at the balance as well. Now that I now longer have to subsidize the rent on my old apartment, I should be able to really throw everything at this debt. It feels as though the debt is being reduced so slowly. With a balance this high and a 19.99 interest rate* I’m paying over $500 per month in interest alone. As I get more principal paid down, my interest paid will be lower each month as well. More and more money will go to principal and my debt snowball will be at full speed.

*I’ve never been late or missed a payment in all these years. My rate is so high because just before the Obama Administration passed the Credit CARD Act, banking institutions everywhere jacked up interest rates preemptively.  Those of us with high balances who could not pay them off or move them elsewhere were stuck with these inflated rates. Not that missing a payment means much to me now. I’m done being a good little profit center, making minimum payments and making rich people richer.

I got my annual reminder that my Amazon Prime account was going to automatically renew. The old me would have approved it, but the ‘Get Out of Debt’ me quickly blocked it. I used to buy something from Amazon once or twice a week, but this year I’ve only bought a few things that I needed like ink and paper for my printer.

My second job starts next week. I’ll keep you updated and let you know how it goes.

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“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)

My Financial Goal for 2013

I have two massive debts, but only one financial goal for 2013.

As you already know from my first post, I have $110,000 in student loan debt and $30,000 in credit card debt. I’ll explain how the debt accumulated to these levels in another post. Suffice it to say that the vast majority of debt accrued in my final two years of grad school when I was unemployed or underemployed after the economy tanked. In any event, this is the debt I am facing.

My goal for 2013 is to become credit card debt free.

This debt of $30,000 will be paid off by the end of the year. It is both the smaller of the two debts, and also the one with the higher interest rate, so it makes sense for this one to die first. And die it will. It carries a 19.99% interest rate. That’s right. (They raised my rate from 13.99% to 19.99% immediately before Obama’s credit card reform went into effect. I, and millions of other Americans, have been over the proverbial barrel ever since.) It’s time for some Kill Bill revenge er, to repay Citibank for all they’ve done to for me over the years.

How will I accomplish this?  I’ll do this in a series of steps that I will explain throughout the year. In general, my plan is to cut my expenses way down and throw all of my available money at this debt.

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I’m implementing a 2013 spending freeze (moneyning) or spending fast (andthenwesaved).

  1. I’m moving out of my posh downtown shoebox studio apartment. I will rent a room in an old, small, three-bedroom home with two roommates in a rough neighborhood.   Savings: $1,000 per month. I took inspiration from blogger Rosetta (among many others) for getting rid of crap, renting a room, and living light.
  2. I will be starting a second job, if all goes well, in February (or March at the latest). This has the potential to bring in an extra $800 per month. I’m not going to count this as a secure income source until I’ve been in the job for a couple of months, as it appears to have a fairly high turn over rate. Note: This is in the education arena where I started putting in applications 6-8 months ago so it’s not like I just decided to get a $800 per month side job last week. The timing just happened to work out. So for now I will not include this in the repayment plan, but if it works out, it will help me to get out of debt much faster.

I bring home $3,700 per month. My goal is to live on $700 per month and throw $3,000 toward debt.  The monthly budget that I will need to stick to is ultra simple because I am single and have no dependents. Yes, it is simple, but draconian er, challenging.

$700 per month budget.

Rent: $425 per month rent (all utilities and internet included)
Phone: $65 per month (I’m looking at ways to reduce this. Yes, it is an iPhone.)
Transportation: $0  (I get a free public transit pass from my employer)
Food: $190 per month   (Don’t know if this is even possible. Look for separate posts on this.)
Clothing/Misc.: $20 per month

I know this budget may look insane to some people, but it’s what I am willing to try my best to stick to until this high interest credit card debt is gone. When the credit card debt is gone i can add a bit more padding to the budget.  And if the second job is a keeper then I will have even more to work with. Only time will tell. Rest assured that this is a means to an end. I have no plans to start dumpster diving, although I don’t judge people who do.

Well, that’s my 2013 financial goal. What is yours?

Live like no one else (now), so that later you can live like no one else.   Dave Ramsey

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“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)