How I Paid Off $14,000 in Credit Card Debt in Less Than One Year

Simply stated, there is no “magic bullet” formula for paying off debt.  What this post boils down to is a recipe for success found through hard work and determination.

Pay off credit card debtReview the Past

While reviewing my budget spreadsheet (I’ve kept a detailed account of all income, savings, debt payoff, net worth, and spending in Excel for the past 4 years), I seemingly re-lived my debt payoff journey.

With each click of a different page in my workbook, I reviewed the multitude of income-generating positions held (at one point I was working SIX different jobs!), and I found myself truly appreciating the sacrifices made to get to where I am today.

Face Reality

As far as the details, I simply had an epiphany one day while charging yet another needless item at a store where I had no business shopping.  As the post-spending exhilaration faded, I finally came to terms with my need to get my financial life on track.   While I had a great full-time job that provided me with excellent benefits, salary, and constant challenge, I realized there was something missing.

Whatever that missing piece was, I finally understood that it couldn’t be replaced with shopping, vacations, or other living-beyond-my-means behaviors.  With this realization came the beginning of many things:  my graduate studies, a move to Boston (with $14,000 of credit card debt in tow), a career change, and a commitment to debt payoff.

Never Stop Working Hard

Moving to an expensive city necessitated a change in attitude towards spending, savings, and income.  While I was interviewing for full-time work, I stumbled upon an advertisement for a part-time job in a residential assistance home.  The posting seemed too good to be true:  live in Boston for free, work only ~10 hours a week, and be guaranteed the position for at least 2 years?!  Sign me up!

Enter the phase of my life I endearingly refer to as Insanity:  full-time work, full-time grad school, a part-time gig to “pay the rent,”  and a plethora of odd jobs to bump up my bottom line.

Get Creative

However, “pay the rent” is exactly what I did:  I paid to my credit card bills the equivalent of the standard rent I would have had to pay in a comparable setting (room fee, utilities, and food).  I sent at least $1,300 per month to my cards.  I chose only one card to use (sparingly) during this payoff period; one that provided cash-back and that was paid off in full every month.

Over a span of 10 months, I watched the balances dwindle and my financial freedom begin to take root.

Bye-bye, Debt

In August of 2008, I made my final payment, $1,277.25, became credit-card debt free, and have remained so ever since.


Photo credit: Andres Rueda

The Happy Homeowner

The Happy Homeowner

We're a team of freelancers who are on a mission to inspire others to live a healthy, balanced life one cent at a time. Work from The Happy Homeowner has been featured on CNN Money, Yahoo! Finance, Wisebread, Lifehacker, The Dr. Oz Show, Good Housekeeping Magazine and many other outlets.
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