Monday, October 06, 2008

How we got out of credit card debt

By Jeff and Charlotte Lee - October 2008

Normally I keep my posts short, light and humorous. This one will be different.

But if you're one of the millions of people who are victims of crushing credit card debt and think paying it off is hopeless, then you may want to take an extra 10 minutes and read this. Because it isn't hopeless. And I'm living proof.

About 12 years ago, my wife Charli and I were drowning in debt with no hope of recovery and as a result our home was at risk and our marriage was suffering for it. However, just 2 years later we were basically debt free, with the exception of our mortgage and the standard monthly living expenses. But as far as credit card debt... we had (and continue to have) none.

We wanted to write this because about 8 years ago we gave a talk at our church on how we overcame tens of thousands of dollars of debt, in the hopes that other people would be inspired to seek help for themselves as well. At the time we were simply hoping to convey some helpful information, but instead we were immediately approached by dozens of people who wanted to learn more. And over the next several months to follow (and even to this day) we have been told that our little talk had literally changed their lives. That's pretty powerful stuff.

Now, as I stumble around the blogosphere, I read over and over again how people are struggling with finances. Some people come right out and say it's a problem, other people hide it behind an offhand comment or joke - but it's easy to spot all the same. People are struggling. And with the economy in the toilet, gas and food prices getting higher every day and job security more at risk all the time, it only makes sense.

Therefore, even though we run the risk of coming off like we "know it all" or sounding like we think we're better than those people who can't handle their finances, we're willing to take that risk for 3 reasons:

1. It's not true. We definitely didn't know it all then and don't know it all today. The only reason we ever got out of debt in the first place is because we got help from people who were WAY smarter than us about finances, and who taught us what we needed to learn to turn our problems around. And even today Charli is constantly learning more every day by reading financial blogs and books, and paying attention to new solutions as the experts continue to address these issues.

2. There is hope - for everyone. And if we can save even one person from drowning in debt, losing a home or destroying a marriage then all the time spent writing this will have been worth it. For the first time in 3 years, I am not concerned with being funny, receiving affirming comments or gaining new readers. I simply want to share the knowledge of what we had to do to recover from a painful time in our lives so other people can take advantage of our experience.

3. Nobody will ask for help. The most common thing we heard from people after our talk was:
- they were in denial that they had a problem
- they were embarrassed to seek help or discuss it with anyone
- they thought it was hopeless and didn't know what to do

And then the other day a woman called us up after 8 years because she had finally reached the end of her financial rope and had been thinking about our talk this whole time, and was wondering if we wouldn't mind helping her. This is when it occurred to me that... wait a minute, if this woman has been keeping this to herself this long, maybe, just maybe someone else out there can benefit from a little proactive advice as well.

That's when it hit me to write this.

But please - don't think we're going to write a silver bullet "here's how to end all your financial woes in one easy post" type of story. It doesn't work that way. All we're going to do is simply tell you our experience and point you to the resources we used to climb out of our debt. Yes, we'll give some examples but those will only be there to provide illustration. The only way you can truly help yourself is to make the choice to take the tough steps necessary to dig out. It's not easy and it requires painful discipline. But if you're interested... read on. It IS possible!

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

So, where do you begin?

Get help

The first thing we did was set up an appointment with a financial counselor. In our case, we used a faith/charity-based service, but there are many different types available. Make sure you contact a reputable non-profit organization that isn't out to make money at your expense.

Financial counselors provide many benefits:
1. They are your support system.
2. They are educated professionals who have seen it all and know how to help you.
3. They can help you negotiate with credit card companies. Often times these companies will be more willing to freeze your compounding interest or lower your minimum monthly payment if they know you are being helped by a financial counselor.
4. They make you accountable to someone other than just yourself.
5. They work!

Educate yourself

At the advice of our counselor, we read The Financially Confident Woman* by Mary Hunt. In this book, Mary provides a clear blueprint for getting out of debt. Guys, don't be put off by the title of this book. She named it this way to appeal to the female demographic because studies show that women struggle with financial confidence more than men. But this book is a no-nonsense tutorial that is useful and effective for everyone.**

Change your lifestyle

The only way you can pay down your debt is if you make an immediate and severe lifestyle change. Becoming debt-free is NOT easy. It takes time and requires sacrifice from the whole family - but it IS possible. You just have to make a commitment that you're going to do it and then you have to stick to it! There simply is no magic button you can push that will make it easy or do it for you.

Stop the bleeding

Acknowledging your problem and seeking help is the right way to start, but will do nothing unless you are willing to end all unnecessary spending. Here are a few major steps you should expect to take along the way.

ELIMINATE your credit cards. Literally. Cut them into microscopic pieces and throw them in the garbage. They are the reason you are where you are right now. Instead, start using cash (or a debit card) for everything. Of course you'll still need one major credit card for things like reservations, but do not under any circumstance use it for everyday purchases.

ELIMINATE the fast food. Sure it's convenient, but it's also one of the largest drains on your disposable income. We calculated that by simply not eating fast food we saved $200/month - money we were able to apply directly to our debt reduction. Of course it's not a straight 1-for-1 elimination of expense because you still have to eat, but when it costs $35 to feed a family of 5 at McDonalds, you can easily see how not eating there can save you mega McDollars.

ELIMINATE the unnecessary junk food. Your kids don't need chips, cookies, pop and 8 different kinds of expensive cereal. Sure they like all that stuff an awful lot but it's certainly not required and it sure as hell isn't good for them either. Remember, you're on a mission to get out of debt. Things need to change now and everyone in the family has to help.

ELIMINATE waste. This is pretty self explanatory but until you start looking at just how much waste you produce in a month, you'll be surprised at how much you can save.

ELIMINATE impulse buying. Go to the store with a shopping list and only buy what's on the list. Resist the temptation to buy those cute pants you don't need just because they're on clearance. Ignore that funky new set of tumblers, your old mismatched cups will work fine for now. Put that Enquirer magazine back on the shelf. Right now you don't need to know. One rule of thumb that is helpful is to ask yourself every time you pick something up... "Do I want this or do I need this?" I guarantee you'll be surprised by how many times you answer "want."

Oh, and by the way... if you're really smart, you won't even step foot in Target ;-)

Rapid Debt Repayment

Our financial counselor told us that if we had continued to only pay the minimum monthly payment on all of our outstanding credit card debt, it would have taken us 237 years to pay it all off. Believe it or not, that didn't sound like a good plan to us.

But fortunately, Mary Hunt's book shows you how to exponentially reduce that debt burden through what she refers to as her Rapid Debt Repayment Plan.

In a very high-level summary explanation, it works like this:
- With the help of your financial counselor, have all your credit card minimum monthly payments reduced as low as possible. I know this sounds counter-intuitive to paying off your debt, but it will make more sense in a minute.
- Calculate your leftover income every month after paying off all essential expenses such as groceries and utilities as well as your long term debt such as your mortgage and car payment etc.
- Sort your credit card debt from smallest balance owed to largest.
- Apply the minimum payment possible to everything but the smallest balance, and then apply everything that is leftover to that. This will pay off your smallest balance the fastest.
- Once the smallest debt is paid off, use that extra money and apply it to the new smallest balance. With each bill you eliminate, you have will more money to eliminate the next largest one much sooner than if you just paid the minimum amount due. This process eventually creates a snowball effect over time that, just like the name implies, rapidly reduces your debt.

Why does this work?

It works because this method provides for small victories (paid-off debts) much earlier in the plan which helps to increase confidence, gain momentum and strengthen your commitment to stay with the plan, which is the most important aspect of rapid debt repayment.

Some people will undoubtedly flinch from this idea because it defies logic to not pay down the credit card with the highest interest rate first. But with this plan, the gratification you receive from watching your low hanging fruit get picked right away provides the incentive to keep going and far outweighs the conventional wisdom of aiming for the most expensive debt - which could in some cases take months or even years to eliminate.

Stay out of debt

It doesn't do any good to clean up your mess only to turn around and create the same mess again. In addition to her debt repayment plan, Mary also provides an excellent system for managing your ongoing expenses for the future... with cash! Using a method of pre-allocating your monthly income to pre-established expense and savings accounts, you will never be surprised by a bill again. In addition, you will be able to save for things you wouldn't normally consider saving for.

For example, how many birthday and Christmas gifts do you buy every year? And what do you do when those times come due? If you're like most people, you run out at the last minute and spend money you weren't planning on spending. Or worse, as in the case of the holidays, you ... (yes, you guessed it)... you CHARGE IT! Instead, this method has you go back in time and add up all the everyday expenses you don't normally consider and then has you fund little virtual accounts every week so that when these expenses occur later on, they're already paid for. It really works and is vital to keeping yourself debt free.

Bottom line

Getting out of debt is a journey. For two years we dialed back on unnecessary expenses, bit the bullet and got'r'done. It wasn't fun and it wasn't pretty but it worked. And it can work for you too.

Again to summarize:

1. Seek help
2. Educate yourself
3. Change your lifestyle
4. Stop the bleeding
5. Get out of debt
6. Stay out of debt

One last thing. Please feel free to send us an email if you have specific questions or would like further details on anything we've written. The whole point of this post is to share what worked for us, and we are completely open to talking about it further with anyone.

Also, if you feel other people could benefit from this post, please feel free to Digg, Stumble or Smiley it. Thanks.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

*Re-released in 2008
**This is not a paid endorsement

48 comments:

Mom Thumb said...

Great post and very timely. Getting out of debt is hard. I have a good friend who is writing about her journey to being debt free at crockpotcruise.blogspot.com. Early in her blogging, she added up how much they were spending on eating out and drinks from Sonic, and she was shocked. I'm really proud of her for all the progress she's made and, like you, for sharing. She has some good links on her page also.

Kathy said...

Excellently-written article, Jeff. I've been there myself. It is possible with all the techniques you've outlined. The want/need question still works for us today. It's what keeps us from winding up in the same boat. A 10K-debt boat.

I'm having trouble with Stumble lately, but if someone else Stumbles it, I'll vote it up and review it. I'll try to Digg too.

Kathy said...

Oh, and if you'll allow me to suggest another easy thing to get rid of -- bottled water! We save about $75/mo. by not buying it. We use a Brita filter/container now and refill bottles with it. Huge money-saver and also less plastic hitting the landfills. (Sorry, Jeff, but you got me all excited with this topic.)

Jeff said...

mom thumb - Thanks for sharing her link. I stopped by and am very impressed with her blog. Journaling how she is getting out of debt in real time is an awesome idea.

kathy - YES... bottled water is a total waste of money! We also have a Brita system here for the exact same reason. It would be great if other people listed their money-saving ideas too.

Avitable said...

Very good post, Jeff.

Jess Riley said...

Bravo to you, Jeff! Now if only I could convince Mr. Riley to stay out of the Burger King and Taco Bell drive-thru lanes...

It's always good to have a reminder to live within our means.

April said...

Great info, Jeff. Might I add two things?
1) There's a great, free website called spendingdiary.com which allows you to track your expenses, create spreadsheets, and categorize in your own unique way - without giving any personal info on the web. And did I mention it's free?
2) Another advantage to paying the smaller debts off first is you cut down on interest that you're paying overall if there's one less debt with interest adding up every month.
I'm glad you did this. You're cute w/ all your caveats, but it's all good info that may mean more to someone who comes across as a friend rather than a financial expert.

Ed (zoesdad) said...

Excellent advice. We are currently making enourmous strides in reducing our credit card debt--and I do mean huge--but have yet to make ourselves hurt with the lifestyle changes. Simple stuff like cable and digital phone easily $75-100/month extra in our pockets if we could bring ourselves to eliminate them.

VE said...

kewl. Can I like borrow a couple thousand? I saw this new ATV I must have...

I've actually been out of dept since 1990 too. I used the one step plan: Change your name and start over. They're still looking for that "VO" guy, ha ha ha

Chris C said...

awesome post!

Another issue with getting in debt is by doing so people are also increasing the overall money supply. Credit cards are loans and thus created money. When you increase the money supply it causes inflation.

I've always thought the world's view of Americans being addicted to consumerism was just bias or envy. But with all the economic talk focused on how we free up CREDIT and not how do we lower debt, the world might have a point on this one.

Chris C said...

forgot to add that the reason why it causes inflation is because it creates a situation of more dollars chasing fewer goods and services.

Jeff said...

avitable - Thank you very much.

jess - Maybe we should convince Burger King and Taco Bell to give us free food. That sounds like a better plan to me.

april - Thanks for the link. That web site looks cool. I'll have to check it out!

ed - It is a balance. The more you sacrifice the faster it goes. Good for you for working down your debt!

ve - Well, as long as you keep your new name clean, no harm done I say.

chris - Thanks Chris. You're right in that credit is really artificial money. But why should we lower our debt when our government is in debt to the tune of $10 trillion? If it's good enough for them isn't it good enough for the rest of us? ;-)

Gette said...

This is something iPastor and I have been struggling with for years. We used his small inheritance to clean up all our clutter debt so we have only mortgage and student loans, besides utilities, but the real struggle for us is to make and STICK TO the lifestyle changes that will just pile it all up again. We're not even that extravagant; just careless.

Mooselet said...

Good on you Jeff. I have been using the "want vs need" line for ages and it helps me a lot. Now if I could just convince the Hermit that he does not need every new DVD tv series that comes down the pike... Our credit cards should be paid off by the end of the year and then we can start working on the car.

We buy a lot of generic goods from the grocery store. If the taste is equal, why am I going to spend 2-3 times as much for a product?

Also, vacations = camping. We can stay at a caravan park for way less than it would cost 6 of us at a resort type of place. Of course if I was really brave we could stay at a national park for free, but if I don't have a hot shower and toilet I get cranky so we compromise.

Babs (Beetle) said...

That's a great post Jeff. I have heard of so many people that live off their credit cards. It's so easy to get into debt and so hard to get free of it. I will certainly Stumble this for you.

carlae said...

We recently discovered that we were spending about $75.00 per month for cable TV that we weren't using. So we downsized, radically.
As for water we have the fridge that filters it and makes it all yummy.
We also recycle just about everything that we can...to the point that the old fence is now a new bench.

DFTF said...

We've gotten out of debt several times, but it always creeps back up on us. I guess it's time to do something about it again. I'll check out that book!

Jeff said...

gette - I understand completely. I would recommend reading Mary's book. She deals with that exact same thing very clearly.

mooselet - Good tips. We also try to stay at campgrounds when we vacation whenever possible. It's a little more effort and takes careful planning but it definitely is cheaper. And likewise with food. We only buy the store brand variety. It's all made by the same mfg anyway.

babs - Thanks for the Stumblage! I cringe when I see my friends making big purchases on credit cards. You don't want to get in their business but at the same time you feel like you should warn them. I guess that's what I'm doing here then isn't it.

carlae - If we could just get the 3 network channels + Comedy Central (got to have my Stewart/Colbert) for free I would gladly take it. But the only way we can get any TV is to buy the basic cable package. Now I get an extra 75 channels I don't watch. Bleh.

DFTF - Great! It really is very helpful. And inspiring.

Jacki said...

Great post! I agree that it takes discipline to stay out of debt. It would be soooo easy for me to charge, charge, charge, but I have us on a pretty strict budget. As soon as we get paid, I pay all the bills that are due and put about 20% into our savings and 401Ks. And really, I only give ourselves $100/week for spending money. We only eat out about once/month.

I keep track of all of our expenditures in a spreadsheet. I am a math geek, so what do you expect?

Windyridge said...

Well written and good of you to take the time.
We only have ever used credit cards by paying them off monthly. We get cash back so it makes sense to stretch a dollar this way.
I did a blog post awhile ago with money saving tips like paying bills by phone, using the Hess gas credit card (30% back cash the 1st 90 days and 5% forever more), hot water heater up or in our case replacing it altogether with a heat pump (we now use very little oil). it's here: http://onaridge.blogspot.com/2007/11/beat-gas-squeeze.html

Mom Thumb said...

I'm glad you connected with Tracy. But now you have to go to my blog because geez. We had a pretty cool happenin'.

Elizabeth said...

What a great post! I love Mary Hunt's books too. I used to get her free weekly e-newsletter, but haven't for a while. I should probably sign up again, she has lots of good tips!

Heather said...

Interesting post. It seems like we already do all those things. We only have one credit card and we try not to use it very often (we pay K's preschool tuition with it automatically and used it when our oven broke and we needed a new one). We rarely eat out. I buy store brand groceries (although some things, like ketchup need to be a certain brand name!). We don't have cable (just antenna) and we don't even have a dishwasher (Craig washes most of the time). We never seem to get ahead anyway. It's the medical bills that get us.

Sandy said...

I am so glad you wrote this. Although we do not have any debt (besides our mortgage), we know MANY people who are totally struggling, and it really does affect every facet of their lives.

Credit cards are just way too easy to get these days, don't you think?

Michelle said...

Kudos to you, Jeff -- this post was great.

My biggest pet peeve is listening to all the ads on radio/tv about becoming debt free and ONLY this lawyer or that firm can do it for you. It really irritates me with the misleading statements they make. This lays it all out very clearly.

Oh, and working in the financial services industry myself, one caveat to the point you made -- The OCC came down hard about two years ago on minimum payments because many were negatively amortizing or not paying off the balance in a reasonable period. ALL credit cards are now required to have as a minimum 1% of the principal plus finance charges, interest and other fees so that at most (assuming you pay the minimum) it would take 100 months (still 8+ years) to pay off any given credit card. It's not quite as dire as what it was, but still ugly.

I've actually thought a lot about getting into financial counseling for those who are having trouble. I've been very lucky in my life, but I know others haven't, and I know many just don't know where to turn. Great article.

Phil said...

We gave up cable five years ago and have more than enough entertainment through Netflix at $17.99 a month.

I've also given up a lot of my wants over the years. I had long wanted a DSLR camera, but have learned to capture memories with a cheap point-and-shoot.

I stopped buying the kids so many books and now rely on the library.

We took one expensive vacation (to Disneyland a few years back) and now just look for places we can drive to, like the National Parks.

I had to run up some debt recently to finish my basement project. It would not have been practical to wait until we had cash in hand. The money gets spent so quickly, yet paying it off takes so long.

Thanks for the tips, and the light at the end of the tunnel.

Elizabeth said...

I was just thinking about a co-worker who gets at least two mochas a day. So that's $10 a day 5 days a week, $50 a week, $200 a month, $2400 a year. Yikes! Now he doesn't complain about being broke and it may be money well spent for as far as he's concerned, but man, for that kind of money I would brew my own coffee.

Phil said...

Oh, I just remembered another money-saver that I started about five years ago... I cut my own hair.

I look horrible, but it saves a ton of money.

Also, I haven't bought new clothes for myself in years.

Keeping up with the latest fashions is expensive. Jeans and a t-shirt do just fine.

Rickey Henderson said...

Great post Jeff. Rickey does slightly disagree with your third point, that nobody asks for help. On the contrary, there's a shitload of people out there looking for assistance of some sort, ranging from some tax relief to a full blown handout.

Prefers Her Fantasy Life said...

Great post. And you'd think I could come up with an original comment other than 'great post' but it's exactly what I mean to say.

cathouse teri said...

Purrrrrrrfectly stated! People do need to know that there is nothing embarrassing about being in financial crisis. No only financial crisis, but any type of crisis. ANYTHING can be overcome. And the steps are basically the same. Beginning with Step One.

Bravo, my furry friend! ;)

Curtis said...

Definitely going to take note of this... Among my high school bad decisions were charging things, and I am still paying for it. I want to get it taken care of NOW and keep a handle on it instead of the alternative. Great read, thanks!

The Doozie said...

This is indeed a very good post. I truly respect you for putting aside your usual humor to share this with people such as myself. I admit I am in a horrible place. I have used credit cards to live off while I was unemployed and now I am in severe trouble. I have been considering bankruptcy but know that if I did that my chances of ever purchasing another home as a single person are slim to none.

Amazingly enough many of the credit card companies today are willing to work with you. But you have to be honest and nice. When they call me, I just tell them straight up I can't pay their bill anymore. Either they help me out with a compromise, or they don't. but lately they have been helping. I really, really don't want to do bankruptcy because I feel it is a cop out and I would not be taking care of what I created. And it is my fault, I did this and I should pay it. So thanks again for your post, you are indeed a very well rounded fellow!!

Jennybean said...

great post... I am proud to say the only debt hubby and I have is student loans... and seeing as how we put ourselves through six years of school between us I guees it's not to bad...

Thanks for sharing!

Jeff said...

jacki - Sounds like you're on a great plan. The experts say that you should indeed be putting money into savings even when times are tough. It's all about living within your means and sticking to your budget.

windyridge - I love your "Beat the Gas Squeeze" post! Those are all fabulous tips. And I dream of my kids taking shorter showers.

mom thumb - Definitely worth celebrating for sure. And congratulations once again!

elizabeth - Yeah, we like Mary because she has practical advice for the average person who is struggling. She's been there and knows her audience well.

heather - Ain't that the truth. Especially during the new baby years. That's when we were struggling the most too.

sandy - No kidding. Even debit cards. The bank gave my 17 year old son a debit card for his checking account and never offered or advised him a ready reserve. He quickly went negative and had compounding finance charges he couldn't afford to pay. We stepped in and had them all removed, but not before letting them know how irresponsible it was to give a kid an open line of debt.

michelle - Man, 8 years is still a long-ass time to pay back a card. I think credit card companies have been just as irresponsible as the banks who have been issuing subprime loans. They ought to know whether their customers should be issued as much credit as they are and not give out cards to risky clients. But unfortunately they prey on the fact that people will get behind and have to pay lots of interest.

phil - Good for you Phil. You're doing the right things and you understand you need to keep working at it. Jeans and t-shirts are about all I ever wear myself. And I promise never to judge your haircuts ;-)

elizabeth - Isn't that crazy how much coffee costs? I guess they have to pay for all that fancy equipment and those baristas somehow.

rickey - Good point. I probably should have worded that "some people are afraid to ask for help."

fantasy life - Thanks. That's exactly what I wanted to hear :-)

teri - Thank you! Why do I suddenly feel like licking myself?

curtis - You definitely should if you can. Carrying that old debt around is no fun at all.

doozie - Thanks for sharing your plight. Obviously you should do everything in your power to avoid bankruptcy. My recommendation is to talk to a counselor as a first step. It shouldn't cost you anything (if you go to the right people) and it definitely can't hurt. Good luck!!!

jennybean - Unfortunately student loans are a necessary evil. But good for you guys for keeping it clean!

cathouse teri said...

Well I'm not sure I would recommend licking yourself, but who am I to judge what people do in private, right? As long as you don't do it in the street and scare the horses!

cathouse teri said...

Also, I will NOT be getting rid of my bottled water service! Neither will I stop buying popcorn at the movie theater! ;)

Jeff said...

teri - No worries. We don't have horses around here. And I was more referring to the individual bottled waters you buy at the grocery store. You really don't need to keep buying them if you have a good water system at home and can refill your own. Most of those products are just filled by a tap in the first place anyway. Plus, they're terrible for the environment.

Jennine said...

What an awesome topic. You and Charli are inspiring, the way you've handled your debt.

The way I see it, we will be poor until the kids move out. We have no debt. It's our living expenses that do us in and I consider myself to be a creative person!

But hey! At least I don't have to worry about losing millions in the stock market. Those are the people I feel for.

Kevin Spencer said...

A very good post. Some really good ideas that I think I'll be applying in my own life. Cheers.

cathouse teri said...

No, I have it delivered. I don't use a filter. I don't refill anything. I sit at my house whilst water is brought to my throne. :)

Christina said...

Excellent Post. I have essentially used the same method and will be out of credit card debt on Oct. 24th. It took us 2 years. I plan on lighting a giant bon fire and burning all of my past credit card statements. I can't wait!!!

It was very difficult to hold ourselves back from indulgent spending (eating out, new clothes, etc), but we stuck to our guns and got it done. It feels great.

Afterwards, we are planning to responsibly (key word here is responsibly!) indulge in some 'fun' expenses (a fancy dinner and a new outfit for each of us to go to said dinner) and put a lot of what we would be sending to credit cards directly to our savings account every month. We are hoping (fingers crossed!) to be able to buy a home and start a family in 5 years.

Flip Flop Momma said...

you are 100% right....we have no credit card debit either, and we have followed much of these thing u learned from your debt counclor.

this shit does work...

how do i buy things?..with my chekcing account..NOT a CC or hell even my savings. if i dont have the money to buy it, guess what..I dont.

I use to have am emergency CC incase of well, an emergency..after not using it in two years, I cut it up and canelled it..

everything seems to be increasing but out pay, and thats what is hard 4 most Amreicans..

we are even feeling the pinch right now..

most times we chose not to do anything specail or extra because it costs money and well, money is hard to come by now a days..

great post and its all true..

i have done it too..it works..

Jeff said...

jennine - Way to look at the positive side! Our 401K is a fraction of what it used to be. Now all we can do is hang in there and hope it rebuilds itself before we retire. Bleh.

kevin - Glad to hear it. Thanks!

teri - Very good then. May I call your Queen Teri? ;b

christina - That sounds like my kind of party! Good for you guys :-)

flip flop momma - Glad to have another testimonial. Thanks for your great comment!

cathouse teri said...

You may call me the Queen of Sheba. :)

Memarie Lane said...

Excellent!

Poetikat said...

Brave and selfless post, Jeff.

We used our bank to consolidate all our debt and pay off credit bills. We have only one card and use it for emergencies (or the odd treat). I pay with cash most of the time and debit the rest.

We buy almost all our clothes at good quality thrift stores - we're reusing, not supporting big textile mfg and we donate regularly as well. I get all my kitchen ware and other household items this way too. There is a stigma about some of these places BUT you would not believe what you can find!

Having said that, I never buy anything unless it's on sale and I absolutely need it.

The fast food tip is great. We buy grocery-store type fast-food (frozen pizzas that we add toppings to ourselves etc.)

We only have one car. That requires some effort. (I take my husband to work and pick him up)

Hope this doesn't sound gross, but we don't flush the toilet at night (or if one of us is home during the day, only after it builds up - not #2 obviously!)

We only use our dishwasher when it is chock full (usually every other day) We have a water-saver shower head and we installed a gas stove in the living room to heat the house. Also, we sealed all around the doors and windows to save on heating bills.

That's all I can think of right now.

Kat

P.S. (I'm still digging up the "doozy")

Roger said...

Jeff, this is very good and sound advice, and we know that it works, because we've been through this, unfortunately we had to do it twice... apparently we didn't learn our lesson well enough.

Again, excellent advice sir! I hope you can help at least one person with this.