How I Paid Off My Credit Card (and Still Had Fun)

Paying Off Debt, Personal Finance
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By Chris de Lorimier

Learn more about Chris on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor

Four (maybe five… or more) years of college behind me and I am finally ready to start earning money in the real world. I got myself a real “adult” job and can’t wait for payday. I know in the back of my mind that I should probably deal with those credit card bills that come each month, and, thankfully, I have six months before I have to start paying the student loans. Payday comes and the money goes: rent, utilities, Internet, cell phone, food, fun, etc., etc., etc. Where did it all go?

A few months go by. Work, paycheck, bills. Work, paycheck, bills. Slowly I see my credit card balance rise even though I keep making those minimum payments. I go home for the holidays. Parents tell me that I should start putting money in a savings account for emergencies. Grandpa tells me I should open up an IRA and start saving for retirement. I tell myself I should get that sweet flat screen I saw at Best Buy. I don’t know how I can do any of these things when I don’t have any money left over after payday.

A friend suggests I start paying more than the minimum payments to the credit card bills. I’m paying 19% in interest to the credit card companies, way more than the 6.8% on the student loans and the 2.9% on my car loan. Instead of the minimum, I double it: $50 instead of $25. A few less trips to Starbucks. Over the next few months I do this again and again and again. I get a raise! I can already see that new flat screen on the wall of my bedroom! But instead, I take half my raise and put it toward the credit card bill, and the other half I save to buy the TV later. I’m really seeing the balance on my card dropping, and it’s addictive.

Birthday comes and I get some more money from the parents and grandparents. I do that same trick: half to the credit card and the other half toward my new TV. I’m almost there. A few hundred dollars left and I’ll be free! Christmas comes and thankfully I get more money from the grandparents. I make my last payment to the credit card company and can’t believe it.

My balance is $0. I kept living my life, had some fun (even bought a new TV) and was able to do it step by step.

Maybe this will work with my student loans…