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Credit Debt Finances & Money

Financial Milestones: Out of Credit Card Debt… Again

A year ago, we paid off our original credit card debt of about $20,000. The moment was rather anti-climactic, but I don’t know why. I carried that debt with me (us), and then added to it, for about 4 years (most of that was in the first 2 years), and then paid it off in even less time.

Since paying off the credit card debt, we’ve still been using credit cards, but we’ve been paying off the balance each month. It hurts to send hundreds of dollars off to a giant corporation each month, but knowing that we’ve budgeted for it (dining, groceries, household stuff, etc.) AND we’re getting rewards benefits for our purchases makes up for that pain.

But not all of our credit card use could be paid off in the same month. My tuition costs over $2,500 a class, and I’ve had to tack on $10,000 in debt since last December. Luckily, I used my new Discover Business Card (affiliate link) which has 0% for purchases for 12 months (and a $100 bonus right now) to pay for all that tuition. Plus, I earned a decent chunk of change on my purchases in cashback bonuses.

Ok, commercial for a credit card aside, I’ve paid off enough each semester to be able to put on another semester of debt on the card. The first $5,000 was covered by my employer, but I used that reimbursement for other debt at the time.

Prior to this weekend, I had about $2,500 left on the card, and the 0% offer ended in December. And while all logic says to stick any extra money in the bank to earn interest until the very last day I can send the check to Discover, I chose to go with emotion.

I paid off the credit card debt 4 months early

Why would I forgo that interest earned on $2,500? Because I hated seeing that amount in our debt scales, Quicken and our net worth statement. Also, knowing that we have Christmas, our big vacation to Israel and another $5,200 in debt coming up for the spring semester, I wanted to make sure we didn’t have that debt looming over us.

So that leads me to the next big milestone:

We’ve paid off 75% of our original debt

I don’t have a specific date when we started paying down our debt in earnest, but I’ll count the date I started this site: June 6, 2006. (Wait, that’s 6/6/06…creepy). Back then, we started with $112,890 in non-mortgage debt.

Somehow, in just over 2 years, we’ve paid off about $85,000. In reality, though, we didn’t start with all of that debt, but based on my records, we have paid off at least $60,000 in debt (counting the new debt we added from my masters degree). Wow.

So that means we have under $30,000 in debt remaining ($28,014 to be exact) for the first time since, well, my senior year in college. Heck, I left college with over $50,000 in debt!

But for now, we’re working on paying down our second mortgage since we’ll need that equity in our home to refinance our first mortgage next year. So other than paying off my tuition this weekend, we’ll be just paying the minimums on my original student loans and my truck.

See, if you just make goals and stick to them, you really can accomplish something big.

About the author

Clever Dude


  • Congrats on your progress. You did the right thing taking that $2500 off the Discover Card. There are a lot of better things you can do with your money (and time) than playing credit card arbtitrage. Keep it up.

  • Congrats!

    This reminds me that I really need to work harder at paying down debt. It feels like I’ve slowed down a lot lately.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Holy Crap, that is a lot of debt, and a lot of payoff!

    I have not even brought myself to add up ALL our non-mortgage debt. I have always left my student loans and car loans out of the equation… so here goes!

    $95,727 is what I estimate my non mortgage debt was in November 2007 when we started to pay it down in earnest. (had to add back in payments on our car and debt between then and now, numbers I have in my spreadsheet).

    It is currently $80,704. Not bad for 11 months of effort, and all the while I have finally accumulated an emergency fund of about $3k.

    Good luck to anyone else out there trying to get back in good financial shape!

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