Someone PM-ed me and said that the advice I (and by default txjohn) gave could not actually save that much money.
I live in a one bedroom apartment
Granted some of these numbers might be location based, and what companies you choose business with but:
I switched from Time Warner with HBO/Showtime and highspeed to WOW and just highspeed, lowest speed they had, saved $45 a month.
Properly recorded my mileage to insurance company and saved 12.00 a month ( I drive less then 7K a year)
Switched to CFL in the lights, unplugged devices I do not use or use rarely and dropped my electric $8.00 a month. Went on my electric companies budget program so I pay the same amount every month.
Evaluated my Cell service, dropped minutes I do not use, dropped texts I never use(1500 to 200) and saved $25.00
Downgraded Netflix (trade off on getting rid of movie channels) $3.00 I pick up the slack with my local library.
My grocery buying, generics switch over and price log using, just did a price comparison and I average spending about $30 a week on food/household stuff (cleaners, soap, detergent, toothpast) if I one stop shopped at the grocery store that would be around 65 a week I spent. SO I save 35 a week. (those are costs on average over time as who buys deodorant weekly but you get the idea,)
pack lunch saves 18 a week
Soda on sale gives me brand names at generic prices.
No itunes downloads or CD buying, I library and rip saves about $10 a month. (really yeah thats 12 CDs a year)
$255 a month from what I was spending.
Now I live in a dense area. I actually chose this apartment because of it. I have 3 malls in 15 minutes 3 dfferent locations from me. I chose to live 4 miles from work. I can go grocery shopping at 3 of our Grocery stores and they ALL have adiscounter next to them and an Aldis. I have Big Lots that I pass to one grocery store. And Costco is 15 highway minutes, Sam's Club is 20. My Costco membership is paid for by the statin I buy from them. My Sam's Club membership I split with my sister so it costs me about 20.00.
Tophat, I feel like you're in my head. I have the same issues PLUS some. My credit score has plummeted to 570 since my divorce 2 years ago and I'm having a hard time seeing through the fog. But we have to pay down the debt! Every extra cent you pay above the monthly minimum will help greatly. I know-I've seen a vast improvement over time. There is no quick fix. Time and Money.
I hopes this helps.
Hi Tophat1- First, I completely understand being embarassed and not wanting to tell anyone about the financial mess you've made. I've been there, with about $25K in credit card debt on a small $38K salary.
Have you considered contact the Consumer Credit Counseling Service? Based on your the description of your situation, that may be a good option for you. They can negotiate lower rates on your behalf, sometimes down to zero and then you pay them and they distribute your payment among the credit cards.
I also found this accelerated debt paydown calculator on bankrate.com http://www.bankrate.com/brm/calsystem2/calculators/debtpaydown/default.aspx It helped me figure out where I should the most money first to pay off the higher card balances.
Also, could either of you get a second job or do freelance work? I have a friend who is doing fact checking for a publication company at $2000 per project. You many want to look at elance.com.
Best of luck to you! I know you guys can pay this debt off and be free!
I just wanted to make one more suggestion because everything is so good from everyone else and I don't believe I am repeating already given advice but if I am forgive me.
Look at your retirement investments. If you have one cc or a few ccards that have say a balance of $5000 then I suggest that you take $6000 from one of your retirement account and pay off one or the accumalated amount off one card and put the balance on the next lowest amount bill. What I need you to do is take the bill with the lowest amount that you are paying on and pay it off first. I like the snowball theory but it isn't as effective with larger amounts such as yours (that is my opinion). What you will do next is say you are paying the mininum balance of $30 on that bill you just paid off you will take that $30 and pay the next lowest amount bill off with that additional $30. Start with the smallest bill first instead of the bill with the largest amount and/or highest interest rate. If you have several investments you and your husband chose one of them and stop making investments in it for 6 months. If you can avoid withdrawing the money that would be great. Use that money and start adding it to that next bill as well to make a dent into the bill and then resume making deposits into your retirement account after your deadline of 6 months or so.
I will tell you why I make this suggestion. I am a therapist and psychologically you will feel better and see greater strides in your debt management. It will take some time but as you are using everyone's suggestions you will start seeing extra money in your budget that you can add to a savings account and to the bills. I know people are going to scream at my suggestion but if you attempt this process I promise you will feel better. People may say it is not about feeling better but if you and your husband are under a lot of stress due to finances then you will need something to proves that the sacrifice is worth the anguish. Just try it for a little while and go backwards and start off with the lowest balance first and then move to the next one little by little. I would also suggest going into hardship forbearance with any student loans you have for the next year to use that money toward your debt management as well. I promise you will get out of and you will be happier for this decision you made to get your debt under control.
I guess you could do what I did. Cancel everything, cable, tv, mag subscriptions, newspaper ect. Even $2 a month, cancel it. Consolidate you phone service, either one landline or at MOST 2 cells for you can your husband.
Kids don't need a cell. It may be cheaper to just go to the cheapest plan possible than cutting a line because of cancelation fees. If you have been a cell user for a while you can negotiate a lower price for your plan.
Give them the choice between no plan and a plan where they make less money, they will invetibly choose to make less money.
Use the savings from the first month to get a digital TV converter box and antennea if you really need tv to live.
(After the initial $80 investment it is free forever VS $80-$200 a month)
If your kids have an allowance take it.
Eat cheaper food, it's amazing how much food people waste. If you can't figure out how to make it cheaper get a 1950s/1960s cook book. The foods selected were always very cheap, the proportion of meat was lower and the caloric count was lower so you might lose some extra pounds too.
If you have an HD flat sell it. You don't need it and the price will fall so much that you will be able to buy a better one for less by the time you dig yourself out.
Get a second job. $80 a week may seem like a bum deal to lose your weekends, but you will spend less and you will be amazed at what $320 a month can help pay off. If you feel like you still need days off, then take PTO on your first job on every other monday.
With the extra money, I am guessing ~$600+ the sale of the TV will bring the amount of debt down enough on a card to scrape yourself out into a nice situaton where you can pay balance instead of interest. And trust me, when working ~65 hours a week, 6 months will fly by like a horrible month.
DEAR "I'M SO EMBARASSED":
It is clear that you have a lot of debt. The issue is where do you go from here.
SOME ADVICE - HOPE IT PROVES HELPFUL :
1) With 55 grand in debt, and despite your "upper middle class status" it sounds like you are having difficulty.
2) The first step is "AWARENESS" that in the past you may have engaged in some unnecessary or even obsessive spending. The advice is that in the future this unnecessary or obsessive spending is an addiction and has to stop.
It has resulted in emotional pain for you and financial hardship.
3) Right now, my advice is that you consult a Credit Counseling Service.
I don't have the name of one, but they are around.
What a Credit Counseling Service Will Do For You or What You Should Request:
1) The goal is for such a service to negotiate with you credit card providers and obtain a payment plan - so that you have a "manageable monthly debt payment. I believe that such credit card debt counselors will arrange in some way for only one payment to be made for all your credit cards.
2) I suggest that you concern yourself with your peace of mind, and financial ability to live your life as the priority rather than your FICO score.
FIRST THINGS FIRST! As Suzie Orman says: "People first, then money, then things." So your emotional well being and peace of mind is priority number one.
3) Before you take the above action, I'll suggest that on the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate, you should call the credit card company, and ask them to reduce the APR on this card
4) As a rationale to this credit card company, tell them that you are being solicited by other credit card companies, at far lower interest rates, so if they would like to keep your business, then it would be in their interests to lower your APR for them to be competitive with your other offers.
You might tell them other banks are offering you credit cards with APR's of 6.0% to 7.0%. I can't guarantee this will work, but it certainly is worth a phone call.
Good luck. I am certain you will survive. Keep a positive mindset. Be disciplined!
jeff800fico (Note: My Fico Score of 800 took a lot of discipline, because I like to shop! The key is I never have been late on any payment on any card in 17 years. I am proud of this.)
I was left with over $50,000 in debt from my now ex-husband. I called American Consumer Credit Counselling and they consolidated the debt and lowered the interest rate from 28% to 8% and cut my monthly payments in half and stopped all the extra charges. Try them, they are a non-profit organization. www.consumercredit.com 1-800-769-3571