Yesterday I read a post from NerdWallet’s 2017 American Household Credit Card Debt Study stating that the average American household with credit card debt has a balance of approximately $15,432.

Indebted households pay hundreds in interest each year, and many Americans use credit cards to cover medical expenses.

I am sensitive about my credit card debt because not all of it belongs to me; but as the cardholder, I understand that I am responsible for it.

Since this January 2018, I’ve paid off about $10,000!

If I continue to be successful, this December 2018 I hope to report that I’m completely credit card debt free. Hold me accountable!

I’m learning as much as I can about personal finance, money management, and investing.

If you’re finally able to pay down unwanted debt, please answer these questions first.

debt

1. What does money mean to you, and how do you feel about money?

I always wanted a simple life.

Money has a way of unnecessarily complicating things. When I’ve met people who were fascinated with wealth and money, I’ve thought they were misguided– focusing on the wrong things.

I thought they were missing the best things in life while on the path to riches.

I’m older now and, hopefully, wiser.

Money provides security and flexibility. Money provides options.

I’ve used my credit card for medical bills in the last three months. I’ve stayed at jobs longer than I’ve wanted to because the bills had to get paid somehow. Right?

If I ever have children, I want the freedom to stay home with them while they are young.

I don’t want the rising costs of rent, mortgage, and childcare to limit my options to live life with my family.

How do you feel about money?

2. What’s your coping mechanism for failure?

I’m a committed person, so it takes me awhile (perhaps too long) to realize that I’ve really failed.

But when I do? I buy more shoes, books, and clothes. There’s usually also eating involved.

The challenge?

These things all cost money.

How do you cope with failure?

What does it cost?

3. What’s your system for rewards? When you have a big victory, how do you treat yourself?

I’m not sure that I have a routine system for rewards.

If it’s been a long week, and I’ve met all my goals, I’ll “treat” myself to a Netflix marathon. Boo-yah!

If I’ve completed a really intense, time-consuming project, I may “treat” myself to a really long, sexy nap.

If I’m celebrating an important event—a graduation, a big promotion, an important award—I may plan a cool trip out of town.

How do you reward yourself?

What does it cost?

4. What’s your savings goal for the year?

Since it’s already July, I know I won’t reach my savings goal for the year. I’ll keep trying anyway though.

When I originally set my goal back in January, I wasn’t completely committed to the idea of paying off my credit card debt first. It just seemed like too much to tackle.

Some months I decide it’s better to put more into my emergency savings account first.

Some months I decide that it’s better to pay down my debt first because I’m losing too much money in the interest.

Now, I’m committed to doing both: paying down all my credit card debt and reaching my savings goal.

It won’t be possible to do both by December 2018, but I’ll see how close I can get.

What’s your savings goal for the year?

5. How accurate and complete is your budget? How often do you review it to make sure you’re on target?

I quit my job in October 2017 because I started having heart palpitations.

The last time I felt like that was 2011 when I had a full-time (50. hr a week) job, two (15-20 hr. each) part-time jobs, and I was enrolled in graduate school full-time.

WebMD told me I was having heart attack symptoms, so I left work one day in a panic and rushed myself to the emergency room.

My finances took a blow when I quit, but thankfully, my emergency savings account helped me make ends meet. I revised my budget to reflect the loss of income.

I revised my budget again when my pay schedule changed from a weekly schedule to once each month.

How accurate is your budget?

6. Do you already have an Emergency Savings Account? If not, how soon can you start one?

I started mine about ten years ago, but I’ve always dipped into it for non-emergencies (sadly).

Although it’s never reached zero, I set a limit to how low I’ll ever let it go.

If you don’t have one, how soon can you start saving?

7. What’s your deadline for paying off your credit card debt?

If you haven’t already set one, do this first.

It will help you decide how big (or small) to make your monthly payments– and how much more interest you’ll need to pay.

You’ll also be able to track your progress—and celebrate small victories along the way.

Good luck!

Let’s hold each other accountable.

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