My friends at AOL’s Lemondrop blog (I blog for AOL’s WalletPop) wrote a helpful article about how exactly to pay off high-interest credit card debt. I don’t carry a balance and I found this article fascinating. The story offers five approaches to paying off the debt, some of which might help you.
Her sitch: In June 2008, Tiffany owed $14,611.47. She’s managed to chip away at the balance by using gift money, tax refunds and watching her spending, but she still owes close to $8,000, and she’s not sure what else to do.
“I don’t have any real system,” she says. “I tried fun Excel spreadsheets and advice from friends, but nothing really panned out. In the end, I just kept throwing any money I could at it, from $50 to $200, as often as I could. But I’m hoping to move in the upcoming months, so I won’t be able to set much aside to pay off the debt. Help!”
How’d she rack it up? Tiffany lives in a college town and has had trouble committing to long leases, so she’s moved five times in as many years. “Every time I moved, I would put extraneous costs on the credit card, telling myself I’d pay it off right away,” she says. “But one new thing always leads to another when you move into a new place.” On her expense list: paint, shower curtains, rugs, cleaning supplies and lots of takeout food. “It always caught me off guard when it added up,” she says.
The glitch: Tiffany has plans to move to New York City in May, where she’ll look for another nonprofit job. Currently she works for a women’s transitional home and brings home about $1,750 a month after taxes. She expects to make $35,000 to $45,000 in a similar position in New York. “What I make now is barely anything, and in general the pay isn’t great for nonprofit work,” she says. “Having a salary that can just wipe the debt away is unlikely. What do I do?”
The expert’s take: First of all, the fact that Tiffany has shaved more than $6,000 from her balance in less than two years is fantastic. But her plan to move to the Big Apple with $8,000 still hanging over her head raises th e eyebrow of Boston financial planner Cheryl Costa. “I would suggest she look long and hard at whether she can afford the move to New York,” Costa says. “Does she have an appreciation for how much it will cost her to live there? If she makes this move, it may take forever to pay down her debt.”
Keep reading to see what five steps the expert recommends for Tiffany.