My most important goal in life right now is paying down my credit card debt. Now, I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’ve been lucky enough to escape having a car payment and college loans. For that, I’m truly thankful. I can’t imagine having to deal with student loans or car payments on top of what else I owe like most of my friends. However, after graduating, I got a job that paid a fairly decent salary with little to no bills because I lived at home. In short, I made stupid decisions and money burned a hole in my pocket to the point that spending a couple hundred dollars on a Michael Kors bag or new clothes every month became regular purchases for me rather than something I saved up for.
Looking at my transactions in Mint, I somehow managed to rack up nearly $40,000 in transactions on credit cards in about 4 years. To my credit (no pun intended), the balances of those cards never exceeded more than a couple thousand dollars at any given time, but it’s not what the balances were, it’s that I had become comfortable with having balances on them in the first place. I bought whatever I wanted rather than what I needed. Looking back, I cringe at all the interest I’ve paid because I wanted to buy “stuff.” Even more cringeworthy is that most of that “stuff” I bought I probably don’t even use or have anymore.
Now that I’m trying to be a “responsible” homeowner, and am solely responsible for all the bills, I have no choice but to be mindful of my spending. The first step of that involves getting out of my habit of relying on credit cards.
On a regular basis, I keep three cards in my wallet:
– My debit card, which gets used for most purchases.
– A low interest credit card for routine bills, which I pay for at the end of each month. While I work to get my savings back in order, emergency expenses like the dishwasher I had to replace are also going on this card. (My goal is to build my savings back up so that these expenses can be paid for up front.)
– Another credit card from a different vendor just in case they don’t accept the other cards I have since both my other cards are the same.
Unfortunately for me, that very last card, with the highest interest rate, is the one carrying the highest balance at the moment making it my first priority in my payoff plan, which brings me to a service I recently stumbled upon called Ready For Zero that makes putting a payoff plan together a piece of cake.
Like Mint, it’ll ask you to connect your accounts. From there, you tell it what you’re able to pay each month toward your credit card balances. With that amount, Ready for Zero will factor in your minimum payments and interest rates and tell you how much you should pay toward each account each month. However, it doesn’t stop there. Ready for Zero can estimate when you’ll be debt free and even plots out your payments on a graph. I like graphs so this is something I really enjoy.
My favorite feature, by far, has been seeing how much I pay in interest daily because of the balances I’m carrying. It’s a simple number that people don’t pay much attention to most likely because it’s often buried away. Watching that amount decrease with every payment triggers a little celebration in my head, and when it goes up, I actually feel it. It may be only a dollar or two, but that’s money each day I would have rather spent on something else.
Oh, by the way did I mention ReadyforZero is free? If you’re looking for an easy way to visually help you pay off your credit cards, this is fantastic. Definitely check it out.
Until next time,