It’s pretty easy to amass a mountain of credit card debt, especially if you’re a married couple with nine credit cards on which you only pay the minimum. But there’s no simple way to bulldoze that mountain once it’s reached Everest-like heights. As one couple in Atlanta learned, erasing $83,000 in debt requires time, determination and humility.
The couple’s story of how they ended up owing so much, told to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is sadly too common. They bought too much too quickly with too many cards and they never paid off enough to bring down the debt, which continued to spiral out of control thanks to interest rates in the area of 32%.
So five years ago, they took a hatchet to the plastic and contacted a non-profit credit counseling service, who put them on a debt management plan and negotiated a huge reduction — from 32% to 3% — with the credit card companies.
Every month, around $1,500 went right out of their bank account and to their creditors. Of course, that required a complete change in the way they had been living. No luxuries, no vacations, no dining out.
“We had to adjust to strictly cash, even to pay for gas and food,”the husband, told the Journal-Constitution’s Biz Beat column. “Once that first year got by, we were OK.”
He also told the paper that the ordeal helped his relationship with his wife: “You have to be able to work together… You have to be patient with each other.”
Now the couple is debt-free and their credit rating has been revitalized, from the 500s to 750. They have a long-term spending plan and pay for everything in cash. They also live by the oft-heard (but oft-ignored) motto, “If you can’t pay for it, you can’t get it.”