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17 May 2013

Community Discussion: How’d You Get into 5-Figure Credit Card Debt?

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by Jesse Mecham

For some reason, credit card debt is on my mind this week. At the moment I have no balances, I’m living on (and loving) my budget, and the only card I use automatically pays itself off every month – things are good.

But I’m not getting cocky. The debtors anonymous survey tells me I should be very careful with any kind of credit instrument. Heaven knows I’ve spent the last 10 years on and off the credit card roller coaster:

Nickels and Dimes, or Big Chunks?

I see three ways we bury ourselves in credit card debt:

  1. Daily living beyond our means. We use the cards to buy groceries, gas, clothes, meals out, utilities and the like. Balances creep up slowly, but steadily.
  2. Conspicuous consumption. Furniture, vacations, private school tuition, home improvement. That sort of thing.
  3. Emergencies and “emergencies.” Car breaks down, taxes are due, kid breaks his arm and you have to cover your insurance deductible, water heater breaks. You get the idea.

So How Did You End Up in Credit Card Hell?

You can see I’ve walked through doors 1, 2, and 3 on the credit card gameshow. I’m wondering about your story? How’d you end up with big balances? Have you cleared them now? Are you snowballing? Or still mired down, wondering how you’ll pay it all off?

(I’d love to hear your story. If you’d like to comment anonymously, just make up a name and email address for the comment form.)

Your Next Step

Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)

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