This month I had a very important financial milestone - I paid off my last credit card! I'm finally free! My credit card balance is zero, zip, zilch, nada! About four years ago, I was carrying almost $14,000 on my credit cards, and they were close to all being maxed out. I remember going through a cycle of paying the minimum balances, getting hit with the monthly finance charges which then brought me over my credit limit and wammy! Over-limit fees! One day I woke up and said enough, I want outta this. I started reading everything and anything I could get my hands on that dealt with finances. I went to a credit union and was able to negotiate a personal loan to consolidate my debt and bring down the interest rate. After about a year, I transferred the loan balance back to a credit card at a low interest rate and shuffled it whenever possible to stay at the lowest rate possible. Now, four years later, I've accomplished my goal and I couldn't be happier. It feels so good! Here are some of the things I've done over the past several years that helped me reach my goal:
- Worked extra hours/jobs whenever possible and put every extra penny towards the debt.
- Sold a lot of personal items online, ie. books, CD's and movies (wish I'd never bought many of these in the first place!)
- Hounding (of course!) - you didn't think I'd leave this off the list, did you?? I really only started smart shopping this year, but its made such a difference.
- And most importantly, I changed my whole way of thinking about money. I was determined to pay off this debt and reevaluated what I bought and paid for in terms of this goal. For me, it was the little day-to-day purchases that got me into all this cc debt, so I figured closely monitoring these purchases could be my way out as well.
My car will be paid off next May and I still have a mountain of student loan debt to tackle. But for now, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders knowing I don't owe the CC companies anything, especially considering the economy at the moment. I will still use my cc's to purchase gas and pay some of my monthly bills, but just for the rewards I get on my cc. I get 5% back on gas and automotive purchases/repairs and with an hour commute (each way), that adds up pretty fast. But the difference is that my balances will be paid off each month in full. My next goal is to build up my savings, which is pitifully small at the moment. I plan to put my monthly cc payment plus all of the money I get back from rebates directly into savings. My first goal is $500 in a short-term savings account. Here we go!
Without further delay, here are my monthly totals for September:
CVS - my lightest CVS month yet
- Merchandise Total: $174.52
- Value of Coupons Used: $80
- ECB's/Gift Cards Used: $97.45, ECB's Earned: $71.95
- Profit: $15.07
- # Items: 62, # Free Items: 30
All Other Stores:
- Merchandise Total: $719.64
- Value of Coupons Used: $415.67
- Rewards/Gift Cards Used: $85.20, Rewards Earned: $134.50, Rebates: $110.12
- Total OOP: $86.24, Profit: $54.61
- # Items: 328, # Free Items: 149