The time I spend recoiling from and then deleting emails from various financial institutions is still less than the time it would take to to actually unsubscribe from all bank emails, in my head.
Clearly, you are a person who would benefit from the snowball method of paying off your debt. Start with the AMEX! Also, automate those bills, and you won’t have to worry about those emails.
@Mike Dang I don’t believe in automating bill payments. If they are automated, you can ignore actually LOOKING at the charges and making sure that they are accurate and your information hasn’t been compromised.
@RosemaryF I automate…and then I check and pay before the auto pay date? Is that weird? You know, just in case!
@RosemaryF I actually don’t automate either, because I actually like sitting down and paying everything every month. But Logan is the sort of person who runs out of money before her bills are paid, I think she would benefit from automation from an account dedicated solely to her bills.
@RosemaryF Different people, different needs. Auto-pay is great for people whose anxiety about paying bills leads them to not paying the bills. I couldn’t get by without it. If your bank has any reason to believe your information has been compromised, believe me, they call.
I’m the type who’s suspicious of all things, so I scrutinize the hell out of bills. Also, I live in Texas where the August electric bill can be quadruple the December one, so constant monitoring is required.
@RosemaryF that’s not a problem with your utility company getting your bill wrong, though. If you know generally that your August bill will be $200 rather than $50, you can still set up an autopay system where you account for that in the cash on hand in the bill-paying account.
FYI, most utility companies have efficiency audits they offer for little or no cost. There is a LOT you can do proactively to lower your heating and cooling bills. Still won’t be cheap but you can maybe get it to 3X rather than 4X.
My heart rate is up more than a little.
Though my savings/retirement fund situation is in better shape, I’m in the process of paying down a similar amount of CC debt that just sort of snuck up on me throughout a series of low-paying jobs. I’m making changes and generally feel very positive about my ability to make a serious dent in it by the end of this year, but it’s still something I feel a lot of shame about (how can a “smart” person let it get so out of hand, etc.)
Hearing from Logan makes me feel less alone as I put my financial house in order. If it’s not too painful (or maybe even if it is??) I think it could be interesting for Logan to occasionally check in on her debt situation.
@krumpies I’ve got less credit card debt than this, but I just wanted to say that I agree with you. Seeing these articles makes me feel less panicky about the whole situation. I’m currently debt-snowballing, but it still feels like I’ll never get out!
oh i’ve got a debt expose in the works – and i don’t get emails from my card with the biggest balance, so things are even better than they seem! (worse.)
@Logan Sachon Haha ooh lawdy. That plastic money is a seductive demon.
Well, this is literally the first time I’ve said (typed) out loud to anyone that I’m dealing with five figures of CC debt, so maybe it helps to know you’re helping people (one people) to face their shit and start figuring it out?? But seriously, I feel you.
you are my people. because: me, too. and i spent a long time thinking it was THE END OF THE WORLD and that i had RUINED MY LIFE. but i now know both things aren’t true. i’m going to figure out how to pay this stuff off eventually. maybe we can do it together.
ahhhhh!!! yes ok. I, too, am just starting to feel like mayyyybe I didn’t ruin my life.
I hereby promise to come into the comments in future debt-related posts and say complimentary things to counteract the people who drop in to talk about how they have $13 billion saved for retirement already and how can ANYONE not have saved that much by now I mean it’s JUST common sense and maybe you don’t deserve to have a wallet or a bank account or a bed and pillows and stuff. Because, yikes to some of those comments.
@krumpies Y’all. I am right here in this boat, and I’m so glad to have a place to talk about it, rather than hide ashamed and terrified. Thank you!
@thewurst Plus I’m about to go to graduate school, a dream program, so I’m adding loans, and oh god I want to collapse. But I won’t! We’re all in this together.
@thewurst Yes to all of you! When I feel like a horrible person for all the debt I have accumulated it makes me feel better to know I’m not the only one. And I always try to think what is the worst thing that could happen? They no longer have debtors prisons so that’s good!
@Logan Sachon Hey, so, I’m wondering, considering this debt: I remember that credit score post you did. And your scores were not that bad! So… why is that? Meanwhile my boyfriend was delinquent on one utility account he didn’t know was open and had no other credit history and his score is like 480 now, like truly awful, and he can’t even GET a credit card. Do you have some secret amazing trick? Not to pry, really (though this site does inspire a bit of financial voyeurism) but it seems like there’s a story here!
Not prying! This is how we do. So, you’re right in that my credit score is not totally terrible (685 or 715, depending on which one score you’re talking about. More here: http://thebillfold.com/2012/03/know-your-credit-score-mine-is-eh/), and from what I have always understood, it’s actually possible to have a lot of debt and a good score, as long as your available credit is always way higher than your credit balance.
My score used to be in the high 700s, and what’s changed the most is my balance to available credit ratio. About a year ago (I think?) AmEx re-evaluated my account and lowered the credit limit they were giving me from like, $10,000 down to $500 (which, hahahha, and two, rightly so). I think that is mostly what has affected my score, because then then I suddenly had way, way less available credit. Two things in my favor: I’ve had a credit card since college (and one that had my name on it in high school that my parents co-signed on), so I have a really long credit history. And the main thing, the biggest thing, probably, is that I’ve never missed a credit card payment or a car loan payment (A Thing I Do Right).
So, for your boyfriend, since he doesn’t have a long history of data and good payments etc etc, messing up that one account was a really big deal for his score. There are ways to fix this! Mike Dang explains a bit on how to get a credit card with no/bad credit here: http://thebillfold.com/2012/04/reader-mail-getting-a-credit-card-when-you-have-no-credit/
@Logan Sachon I missed the credit score discussion! This is so exciting! I just discovered that pre-married me doesn’t exist to the credit unions. Is that normal? I don’t know! But the karma site is wonderful! And I love that you and Mike are breaking this out into the open. I’ve got a score in the low 700s, and yet I’ve always paid on time. Now I have an idea why it’s lower than I thought it should be! More exclamation points! :)
@Jaime The biggest thing to remember is that banks probably consider Logan a great credit risk, they are making tons of money on interest, and late fees are even better if she’s a few days late every once in a while.
Paying your cards off every month like a responsible adult can result in a lower score than carrying a balance does, because as far as a bank is concerned people who charge things but don’t pay interest are “deadbeats”.
I have an idea. How about we have a contest where people can propose a budget for Logan. A panel of adults could narrow down the submissions, and then we could vote, and then Mike could ride herd on her to see that she sticks to it. Maybe by doling out an envelope of cash every day.
Ah this feels like the right place to say that a) Logan! I too do that. But with things like cell-phone bills and my car insurance and then I have to scramble like a crazy man to maintain reality because they will be disconnected maybe yesterday? and b) Mike Dang! I did not go on a day trip to the beach because it was fiscally irresponsible and I thought, man, where is this coming from… theBillfold’s billgold!
AKA thanks because you both make this whole how do i do my money thing so safe.
:O Logan! Those credit card bills are like, 3-4 months of living expenses for me! And I live in Toronto, which isn’t exactly cheap.
for just a moment, my eyes saw “Jcrew Credit Card” but my brain saw “Screw Credit Cards” :-) I currently have about $14k in CC debt, *but* I’m on track to pay it all back before year’s end, *and* most of that was “convenience checks” I used to max out my 2011 contributions to my IRA and Self-401k accounts
This makes me feel better about the time I came across my boyfriend’s credit card bills (of which there were many, many more than I expected). I thought I was in stupid debt but turns out in comparison I’m not doing too bad!
I’m in the same boat, CC wise–all (3) of my cards are almost maxed out. I don’t get emails, but I do cross my fingers and take deep breaths before logging on to Mint. No good.
Logan, you can do this! My husband and I paid off $35,000 in debt (most of it mine!) in two years. And we still had a decent life. Now it’s paid off and we put nearly the same amount in a savings account. Let Mike help you make a budget and you’ll feel so much better!
thanks for the encouragement x
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