Looking for Ideas and Support

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-26-2005
Looking for Ideas and Support
Mon, 04-14-2008 - 10:00am

Ok, so Ive been reading alot of the posts here and felt comfortable enough to share my debt information and hopefully gain some ideas from anyone here. My husband and I are both 30 and have accumulated $28781 in credit card debt. It amazes me the number. We had some tough times when my husbands work as an auto body painter slowed down, then they changed our health insurance from a copay to deductible type. We now pay everything out of pocket until we reach our $3000.00 deductible. We no longer have dental as well, so I had to purchase a dental savings plan ourselves as well as pay for all dental costs. We live in a semi rural area where cell phone reception is not very good if we get a signal at all at our house so when our contract was up I switched to pay as you go and bought 1000 minutes upfront for $100.00 for both of us. We still have over 700 minutes a piece since January.

Heres the breakdown of the cards:

Citi Mastercard: Limit: $19700 Balance: $17833 I transfered other cards here. All of the balance here is set at 4.9% for the life of the balance

US Bank Visa: Limit: $11500 Balance: $9350 This balance is under $3.9% until 12/08, then goes to normal rate of 9.9%

Chase Visa: Limit: $4600 Balance: $1672 This is under 0% until 8/08 then goes to 6.9%

I have tried to figure what to do but at times I feel under control and others I feel like Im on a sinking ship. We have been lucky lately that my husbands work has picked up. Some months I have been able to pay $1000 towards the credit cards. I recently cut up the cards. We only have my Chase card not cut up.

I am a stay at home mother of 2. My husband and I are both only children so there are no aunts or uncles to watch them for me to get a job. My mother has type 1 Diabetes and works so she is unable to watch them. My inlaws are both divorced and do not live around here. Daycare would eat up any money I would make from a part time job so I need to figure out how to pay this off with out me leaving the home to work.

I have broken our budget down to needing:

Budget as of April 1, 2008

Mortgage: $1409
Electric: $ 206
Water/Sewer $ 70
Telephone/Internet $ 90
Trash $ 25
Satellite $ 100
Life Insurance $ 36
Auto Loans $ 514
Savings $ 100

Total Bills: $2550

Weekly Misc:
Groceries $ 125
Gas Both of us & Hubby Cigerettes $ 125
Total Misc: $ 250

Weekly Totals:
Household Bills: $ 600
Gas & Grocery: $ 250

I have 3 seperate checking accounts:

1. Bills Account: I put $600.00 weekly in it for bills
2. Grocery & Gas: I put $250.00 weekly in it for grocery and gas
3. Debt Payoff: Anything extra he makes goes into our debt account

Hoping you guys see something Im missing to get us out of this mess. Which order would you pay off these cards? I have been paying more on the Citicard with the higher balance, mostly because it makes me sick to see such a high balance. I plan on putting our tax refund next year on the debt as well or would you put it in savings? HELP!

Again thanks to anyone who took the time to read this!

**** Adding additional requested information:

My husband is an automotive worker who makes flat rate. His pay varies each week depending on how much work they turn out. He is guaranteed 40 hours per week @ $23.60. That check after taxes is $800.58. We have only seen this a few times. On average his checks are $950-1050 per week. He made $78000 last year which is approx $6500 month before taxes so $4200 after taxes.

We do have automobile insurance. It is $436 every 6 months. I have a Savings Account set up that $27.50 goes into it each week from our Debt Account. This way we have over $1000 at the end of the year just for auto insurance and personal property taxes.

Our homeowners insurance renews each June and is taken out of our homeowners escrow. I do check each year and find the best rate. It is currently $485.

Eating out: We do tend to buy fast food at least once/twice a week. Im trying to cut this out all together as it is rather unhealthy and Im trying to get in shape. But we had been spending about $40 per week.

Savings: We have 2 Accounts. One for standard savings with $750.00 in it, the other is for auto insurance and personal property taxes: $560.00 currently. We both have IRA's and he has a 401K through work that we wont touch.

Edited 4/14/2008 10:48 am ET by jestock2

Edited 4/14/2008 10:51 am ET by jestock2
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-18-2004
Mon, 04-14-2008 - 10:31am

I would pay the highest balance LAST.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-07-2004
Mon, 04-14-2008 - 11:02am

hello!! first, i like your ideas of 3 separate checking accounts-we have 2-our main one and then my hubby has 1 that gets 100 a week deposited into it. we use that one for gas and groceries-at least we're supposed to-with the gas prices, once we fill up, the 100 is almost gone. :-( anyway, what hours does your hubby work? could you possibly get a part time job on his off-hours? i work in a grocery store and i go into work when he gets home from work. then on the weekends, im available whatever hours as he doesnt work. i work usually 30+ hours a week. or maybe see if you can find a job where you would only need child care for an hour or so a day. that way you wouldnt have to pay a lot as far as child care. or maybe you could work from home selling avon or something similar. besides that-maybe you could cut your bills in a few places:
Electric: $ 206
turn off lights/appliances when youre not in the room, switch to lower watt bulbs, clean out the lint hose on your dryer(if you have an electric dryer), make sure none of your appliances are working harder than they have to-keep the fridge door closed as much as possible, dont over stuff your freezer(make sure the air can pour out into it), etc

Satellite $ 100, Telephone/Internet $ 90
can you downgrade either of these? even if it saves you 20 a month, its still 20 a month.

Groceries $ 125
do you use coupons? start clipping them and see if you can find a store that doubles them. buy generic-pretty much the same taste/same stuff-youre paying for the name most of the time. if you find a good sale on items you use constantly-stock up. you can freeze things like lunch meat, cheese, bread, and even milk(havent tried that yet, but you can do it). if they have an aldis or a savalot near your house, try shopping there. they carry generic stuff and you get a lot for a lil. and again it all tastes the same. plus save your leftovers-they make great lunches and snacks. also leftover meat can be used in casseroles, stews and soups.

this way any leftover money you have, you can put into that debt account anbd that way put up more towards your bills. i would try to pay the one off with the interest rate that will be changing soon-in december. that way when the rate does change, it wont be such a high balance. hth!! good luck!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-17-2007
Mon, 04-14-2008 - 2:24pm

hello and welcome

I would pay the chase first

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-07-2007
Sat, 05-03-2008 - 10:39am

I've been using Suzie Orman's method to work on getting out of debt.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-17-2007
Sat, 05-03-2008 - 11:07am

Suze is great but you need to have 3000.00 in the bank somewhere for the health insurance deductable. If you only have a couple dollars left a week put it in an account for that. That way if something does happen and you need to go to the hospital you will have the money

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-23-2007
Sun, 05-04-2008 - 8:21am

I just recently went to Quicken.com, entered all my information (credit card name, balance due, APR, what I normally pay, minimum due) and the program figured out the quickest payback method with the least amount of interest paid. Like you, I was trying to figure this all out on my own...do I pay off the small ones to get rid of them or the highest APR, etc.

Give it a try! At the very least, it's one more option for you. I like knowing exactly what I need to do to get to where I want to be. You can also update it anytime you like, so if you are able to snowflake a big chunk of money one month, go back and change your info. and it will recalculate it for you.

Good luck!


iVillage Member
Registered: 12-26-2005
Sun, 05-04-2008 - 8:35am

Thank you all for all the helpful hints so far. I have entered all my information at whatsthecost.com. I set up my snowballs and have paid $300.00 so far this month towards it. I also started clipping coupons and shopping at aldi. Gas prices havent helped but I managed to only use 1/4 of a tank last week or 5 gallons of gas in my van. My husbands work has slowed down the last two weeks. Hopefully it will pick up again. I am keeping my savings account for the taxes/car insurance. I combined both into one for now. I am still adding some money to it when I can for the medical deductible since we do have kids and do go to the doctor/dentist. I lowered our satelite bill by $20 per month and switched trash companies and saved $12.00 per month. Just thought Id give an update!

Please keep making suggestions everything helps. Thanks again!

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-29-2006
Mon, 05-05-2008 - 2:42am

So true Mary Ann,
I save $10.00 (up from $5.00) a week in an account just for medical expenses. I don't have to take regular prescriptions, but I keep the money on hand for what ever medical expenses do come my way. Seems, doctor and dental regular check up visits always come with additional tests, prescriptions, additional dental needs, that need extra funding. And like you said what if you have to go to ER or the hospital for something?

Anyway, my savings has given me peace of mind. What a breath of fresh air, a new way of life for me.