What I’m Talking About When I Talk About My Credit Card Debt

• Year I opened first credit card: 2005

• Amount of time it took me to get up to $7,000 on said credit card: <1 year

• Number of times I’ve paid the balances down to zero: 2

• Number of times I’ve done that through hard work and not spending: 0

• Number of times I’ve done that by refinancing my car: 1

• Number of times I’ve done that by taking a loan from my parents: 1

• Number of times I’ve paid that loan back: 0

• Number of times I’ve vowed to never use cards again: Some huge, unquantifiable number

• Number of essays I’ve written to “come out” about my debt in the past year: 2, at least

• Number of those essays that ended with revelation and promise to stop: 2, at least

• Number of revelations that stuck: None

• Date of first gchat conversation in which I admit to having a spending problem: Nov 2006

• Date of last gchat conversation in which I admit to having a spending problem: May 2012

• Number of open cards: 6

• Balance owed: $19,948.90

• Balance I would have guessed I owed, if pressed: $12,000

• Total amount of minimum payments each month: $480

• Number of cards still in my possession: 0

• Number of cards in Mike Dang’s possession: 6

• Number of cards I considered not handing over, for emergencies: 1

• Magnitude of worry in Mike Dang’s eyes when told him that:  Huge

• Number of days since I last used a card: 7

• The language of addiction and the language of overspending seem similar: Yes, they do

• Is that apt: Yes, it’s apt

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23 Comments / Post A Comment

Cat Ballou (#231)

I have a sort of embarrassing question, which is this: is any of the stuff you bought really awesome at least??

Nope! Mostly just lots of drinks and meals and fancy coffee drinks and baked goods. Maybe a few thousand was spent travelling. That might be pushing it though.

Babs Bunny (#547)

Logan, you and I have similar amounts of credit card debt. Except I only have three cards and I have NEVER had a zero balance on any of them. I’m fortunate that I don’t have student loan debt (I guess), but my cc debt IS my student debt. I’m 30, been out of college for 6 years, and I’m still struggling to pay my minimums.

@Babs Bunny Thanks for sharing that. I know I’m not the only one who has done this, intellectually, but sometimes it feels that way — I’m certainly the worst of my friends.

Megs (#644)

@Logan Sachon Yes! Logan, you have become my new hero.

…Okay, hero isn’t the word. Whatever the word is for a person who is eerily similar to you in that thing that you were embarrassed about because you thought you were the only 27-year-old with that amount of credit card debt BUT YOU AREN’T and it feels SO GOOD to know that there’s others out there just like you and they aren’t morons.

I simultaneously feel comforted and inspired. Neither of those are words I have ever used when talking about my finances.

Babs Bunny (#547)

@Logan Sachon My friends are freaking buying houses, and I can barely buy groceries because so much of my income goes to my cc balances. So don’t feel alone! I think there are plenty of us out there, but it’s taboo to talk about. That’s why I’m thoroughly enjoying this site and the stories of regular folk who struggle like I do.

Katzen-party (#219)

Wow, Logan! You’re very lucky to have such a good friend in Mike. And it’s pretty brave of you to put yourself out there like you have.

Splendiferous (#532)

Logan, have you thought about a credit counseling service? I know some of them are scams, but there are also some decent nonprofit ones, and consolidating your balances can really make a difference in lowering your monthly payment. Also, you’re not allowed to use any of the cards you have enrolled in the service, which helps curb the impulse spending (unless you open a new one. Not that I know anyone who has done that). My partner and I have been in your shoes before and this really helped us: FYI, we also bought a house and car after doing it, and our credit was fine.

barnhouse (#202)

I love this series and am SO HOPEFUL. Also: yay Mike Dang.

NoReally (#45)

WooHOO. Do it Logan. You are smarter than the usurers.
Oddly proud of you, since I don’t know you.

girlsownlove (#396)

I’m so glad Logan and Mike Dang are friends!!!!!

AnnieNilsson (#406)

@girlsownlove I know! I am also happy that these two people I have never met are friends, which is something I never imagined I would feel…

girlsownlove (#396)

@AnnieNilsson hurray! now that the seal is broken, you will be happy for all kinds of friendships that don’t involve you! I bet people are excited about this friendship developing as we speak!

AnnieNilsson (#406)

@girlsownlove They should be! We are pretty much the bomb. (Do people still say, “the bomb”? Asking for a friend)

girlsownlove (#396)

@AnnieNilsson hahah first i read it like “I’m asking for you to be my friend” but then i read it like “I have a friend who wanted to know if people still say the bomb, it wasn’t really me” – it was the second one right? I mean, people still say it… but probably those people are our moms? like bling? it’s mom territory, but maybe it could have a recent-retro resurgence?

AnnieNilsson (#406)

@girlsownlove Lol, I think you’re spot on with the mom usage. Though my mom would probably giggle if she ever said the words “bling” or “the bomb.” She’d think she was being “edgy!”

Mirch (#228)

I agree that Mike Dang is awesome, and you should pay him for his services, except that he would not accept and it would put you further in debt.
But if I may make a suggestion… You should take a vacation to India or Pakistan or some third world country and see how those people live. I think it will be a life affirming adventure and re-calibrate your spending/money compass.

Limaceous (#30)

@Mirch But what about the Kurds?

(Also, Logan doesn’t need to spend money on another vacation. No matter how life-affirming.)

Limaceous (#30)

@Mirch Also, I didn’t mean for my previous reply to sound so bitchy.

But I have traveled to India, and while it was a life-affirming adventure, it didn’t really recalibrate my money compass. You are probably a better person than me.

sara moon (#650)

Logan, I can’t tell you how strangely comforting I found this.

Generally when I hear people talk about their credit card debt, I feel even worse because they are so horrified with how much they owe but it’s usually around $5000 if not less, whereas I currently have about $18000 in credit card debit and am only 23. I haven’t really got much to show for it either. There are some car repairs in there and some travel, probably a few pairs of shoes but the rest of it is mundane things like make up and taxi rides which I’m sure I wouldn’t have missed had I just not had them.

It’s only recently that this has really started bothering me. I thought it was all part of being in your 20s, being a student and not really having your life worked out yet and that I would just pay it all back once I graduated and got a “real job”. But now I am seeing what a big impact it really has on my life. There are so many things my friends can do which I can’t do because I have that debt to pay. I can’t afford to move to a nicer place, I can’t get a new car because I wouldn’t be able to afford the repayments (or be approved for the loan), I can’t take 6 months or a year out of my life after I graduate and roam around the world like some of my friends have been able to do.

Like you the reasons I got myself into this situation are varied and complicated (living beyond my means and a lack of self control are just the beginning) but the time has come to get serious about paying off my debt so that I can put it behind me. You do it and I’ll do it.

nadineB (#2,145)

Many people have likely heard of the “snowball” debt method, a debt reduction strategy which emphasizes results-based reinforcements. A study was recently released that indicates there is some merit to it. The debt-snowball method of debt repayment is a form of debt management that is most often applied to repaying revolving credit — such as credit cards. Under the method, extra cash is dedicated to paying debts with the smallest amount owed. As each smaller debt is repaid in full, the money used to pay that debt is then applied toward making additional payments on the next-smallest debt, and so on until all debts are repaid.

AliceS (#1,994)

I’ve never owned a credit card in my life. I’ve rented cars, stayed at nice hotels, bought plane tickets, rented apartments, applied for short term loans sometimes and got a home loan. Basically, I can do everything people say you need a credit card to do. I’ve also had my share of unexpected expenses. Emergencies happen. That’s what my emergency fund is for. I have never owned a credit card and I’m doing just fine. So why does anyone need a credit card?

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@AliceS Do you live in America? Where does your credit rating come from? Also, what do you do for a living and are you getting any help from family or friends?

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