Thursday, August 04, 2005

Escaping Debt

One of my favorite websites, Talking Points Memo Cafe has a great specialty discussion area called the Warren Reports which deals solely with financial issues facing the middle class. Today they had a post that linked to a website called Hello, Dollar!. This site is all about getting out of debt, increasing savings and essentially learning about personal finances, the good things to do, the bad things to avoid. Most of the things on the website that I have read are ridiculously simple; yet these are things I did not know or did not consciously think about until a few years ago.

For those of you who do not know, in my alcoholism I managed to saddle my family with $17,000 in credit card debt and $60,000 in student loans (and I essentially failed out of law school, meaning I get to pay the loans without having the degree). About a month ago, my wife and I were only $1,900 in credit debt. We had paid all that off through a lot of hard work.

I'm not proud of what happened a month ago, but I did not know what to do; there were no good options that I saw at the time, but right after my spinal sugery our air conditioner died. I wound up putting $5,113 on a credit card; yes I could have spent less. However, I had known for some time that the furnace had problems as well and with a baby in the house the potential fire hazard there was more than I could stomach.

So it is with gut wrenching (but stomachable) nausea that I have to report that we are roughly $7,500 back into credit debt. That does not count the expenses for surgery which will come out of pocket: $3,000.

But I know what I have to do. Essentially I am going to throw every disposable cent I have at the credit card. But even the best case scenario means I have over a year before we get that to zero. I hate it, but don't see a choice.

Anyway, I really don't want anyone to go through what Laura and I have gone through (largely through my irresponsibility). Learn from my mistakes; please feel free to profit from my errors.

I think that Hello, Dollar! will help you do just that. It has a savings calculator and a credit card payment calculator. Nothing too sophisticated, but enough to be very helpful. Now go and learn how to kill your debt!!