I'm terrible at a lot of things, but there's one thing I've always excelled at. Managing my money.
As a teen, I was the one my other two siblings came to when they spent their meager paychecks from the local fast food joints they worked at. (Fun fact: That's how we all started our work lives. Subway, Burger King and Dairy Queen, in case you were wondering.)
Like, $14,000 deep.
Without getting into much detail, the path that lead me to this point was largely out of my control. The important issue was how to handle getting out of it.
1. Adapt Or Die
I have always been someone who values working part-time. I am not interested in acquiring wealth or fame, I'd much rather invest in my most valuable resource, my time.
But, my financial situation no longer afforded me that luxury. If I was going to get rid of this debt as fast as possible, I would need to work my ass off.
While working my part-time window cleaning job, I spent a lot of my free time learning the ins and outs of web design and online marketing. Eventually, I was able to land a full-time job in online marketing with a local start up. Not only was it exactly the type of work I was looking for, it also paid better than my window cleaning gig.
But, I didn't stop there. I continued to work on my own business as well. 60-hour work weeks were now the norm.
Had I simply stayed on my course of part-time work, I never would have made any progress.
2. Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
I put together an entirely new budget. I had to separate my needs from my wants, and determine what I could live without.
Some were difficult. I live in a large city, with an endless array of amazing restaurants and trendy bars. Hitting my favorite spots with my friends every weekend was a luxury I could no longer afford.
I also love coffee. Boy, do I love coffee. You'd be amazed by how much money you can spend on something as seemingly insignificant as this. If you buy just two cups of coffee a day, at an average price of $2.50, (which is being extremely conservative these days) that comes out to $5 a day. That's about $150 a month.
These are the little things you have to get serious about if you want to pay off your debt fast. Force yourself to live without the little comforts of life.
3. Consolidate Your Debt
What makes credit card debt particularly evil is the insanely high interest rates.
My credit card had a 19 percent interest rate, which is very common. On a debt of $14,000, that meant my interest payments alone were nearly $300 a month.
That is the definition of throwing money away.
So, I looked into options to consolidate my debt. Fortunately, I was able to secure a low-interest personal line of credit with my bank. This line of credit had an interest rate of just 4 percent.
I was then able to transfer most of my high-interest credit card debt to this low-interest line of credit, drastically reducing my monthly interest payments. Now, I could devote a larger portion of my income towards paying off my actual balance.
This is a major step that many overlook.
4. Put Your Situation In Perspective
Maintaining a positive outlook throughout this process is crucial.
Always remember that all of this, the discomfort, the sacrifice, the 60-hour work weeks, is temporary. There is an end in sight, one that liberates you from the chains of crippling credit card debt.
Nothing is more motivating than seeing progress. When you start to see your monthly balance dropping rapidly, it will push you to keep going.