Post # 1
This morning I was going through all my bills and realized that I am close to being overwhelmed with debt. At least that’s what it feels like.
Here’s a simple breakdown:
Car loan: Just under $6,000. Payment is $200 per month, 4.5% interest.
Student loan: $5,000. Payment is $65 per month, 6.8% interest.
Credit Card #1: $2500. No interest until March.
Credit Card #2: $775. No interest until June.
Credit Card #3: $400. Interest starts now.
Medical Bills: $1000. On a payment plan to have it paid in 6 months.
I only make $11 an hour, which doesn’t go very far since Alaska is expensive. Luckily my husband makes significantly more than me, but we seem to have a lot of bills. We have no savings.
I need help figuring out how to pay off these bills, what takes priority, etc.
I’m feeling very stressed so any financial ladies are welcome to help!
Post # 3
Check out the snowball method by Dave Ramsey – there are a couple of different ways you can do it (highest interest rates first, lowest balance first), but I found it very helpful!
Post # 4
What I would do, if you can afford it, is start buy paying a small amount more than the minimum payment on smallest card until it is paid off. Then take the amount you were paying on the smallest card and “snowball” it onto the next card’s minimum payment.
Use coupons for groceries. Cut your cable bill if you can. Downgrade to a cheaper phone plan.
If you can, try and get a part time job on top of what you are working now.
Post # 5
Make the minimum payments on your car loan and student loans, and throw as much as you can at the credit card loans, with priority being the one accruing interest now. After that one is done, go to the one with the highest interest rate, they pay the third. Don’t forget to make the minimum paymet on all of them though, because this will hurt your credit score if you don’t. Credit card debt is “bad debt” while student loans is not, and car loans are somewhere in between. Stop charging on these cards until the balances are paid off!
Post # 6
@alaska_99705: The one peice of advice I can give you is to make the minimum payments on all credit cards each month except for card #3, pay a little extra on that if possible. For one, it is acruing interest now and the others arent. Also, Pay off the smallest balance first. Once you have done that, it will give you a sense of accomplishment and keep you on track.
It is really tough. You make about the same as I do and the debt can be overwhelming. Make a budget for each month. Its hard but can be done. Just keep yourself committed and cut back on expenses where possible.
Post # 7
If you could afford to pay more than the minimum, i’d say put part of your student loans on a 0% interest credit card and snowball the remaining amount of your student loan. That’s what’s costing you the most right now.
If you can’t afford to do that (in enough time to make the 0% interest window work to your benefit) i’d start paying more than the minimum on the credit card that’s starting to accrue interest now. I’d cut back as much as possible on everything else (we don’t have a home phone or cable, for example).
Post # 8
@alaska_99705: Pay the credit cards and the six month payment plan first. Priority is the highest interest ones first. If you work it out that you can’t get all the cards paid off before interest starts, I would try to consolidate the 3 cards to one low interest card.
getrichslowly.com is a good site – you might want to check it out – he has lots of tips and probably will answer some of your Qs if you go thru his posts.
ETA: The six month payment plan will likely hit you with retroactive interest if you go over – read the fine print. I would definitely make sure you pay that one off within the six months.
Post # 9
Can you get a seasonal job? Right now there’s lots of them going on and that would help you pay off some bills quickly (even if it’s only minimum wage).
None of these bills seem that big or that high. I haven’t seen the rest of your budget, but there must be something you can cut down on. It’s also Christmas time. Maybe you can let your parents or grandparents know you have a medical bill and would most like money to help pay it down (I wouldn’t tell everyone you’d like money, though).
Post # 10
I agree with Abbylyn, Dave Ramsey is AWESOME!! Check out his Total Money Makeover book. Its a really easy read because he’s really funny and personable, not textbook-y at all. 🙂 Good Luck!
Oh and dont feel bad, FI and I have over $100k in student loans alone! But with a solid budget we will be out of debt in no time! 🙂
Post # 11
@alaska_99705: Also, make sure that no matter what you’re doing, you pay the minimum payments on everything so your credit score won’t go down the toilet.
Cut down on whatever you can… make your own coffee/tea, pack lunches, write a shopping list and plan meals for the week so you don’t order pizza spur of the moment and you waste less food. Use coupons. Don’t buy new clothes for a while.
You need to make sure your husband is on board with you because it takes two to make this work.
Post # 12
PP’s are giving good advice! I’d start by first paying off the CC that has interest starting now. As abbie said, CC debt is “bad debt.” I might also pay a little more towards my student loans since they have a high interest rate. Maybe $100 a month instead of only $65. But if you have to choose, pick the CCs. Once the first one is paid off, I’d look at your credit limit for the other cards and see which one is closer to reaching it’s limit and start paying that one off. Credit scores do look at to how much debt you have and compare it to your credit limit. You should try and keep your CC acounts under 35% of your credit line.
Post # 13
What’s the interest on the medical bill payment?
Post # 14
I agree with the Bees suggesting to “snowball” starting with the credit cards. First, though, since you have no savings, start by paying minimums on everything and save $1000 for emergencies so you don’t start using the cards again.
Once you have some savings, pay the $400 with interest first while paying minimums on everything else. Once that card is paid off, pick the card with the highest interest rate and pay that down next while still paying minimums on the others. Then pay off your last card.
I’m guessing by now your medical bills will also be paid off because you’re on the 6 month payment plan. Now here’s where some will probably disagree with me, but I would take half of what you were paying towards the cards and medical bills and put it towards savings and take the other half and put it towards the car. The reason I suggest this is you currently have no savings and you need to build a 6-12 month emergency fund of expenses and the minimum payment is higher on the car so the faster you pay it off the more you will have to put towards your student loans. Then you can take everything you were paying toward the car and throw it towards your student loans.
Take every gift of cash you get and put it in your savings account. Get a budgeting tool (Dave Ramsey suggests cash evnvelopes, DH and I use YNAB software, there are tons out there), clip coupons, get a seasonal job like PPs suggested. There are ways out. Don’t get overwhelmed. /hugs
Post # 15
- Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL
Stricter budgeting and get rid of all credit cards. Housing and utilities should be less than a third of your total income. The next third should cover regular expenses like loan/car payments, insurance, and cell phone bill (definitely get the lowest plan you can have and deal with it.) The final third should be split between savings (at least 10% of your net income, more if you don’t have credit cards to pay off) and discretionary income (for entertainment and junk.)
Other than that, don’t buy things you cannot afford to pay cash for. You don’t need a credit card just in case of an emergency. In the case of a true emergency, with good credit you can get approved immediately.
Post # 16
I agree with other posters that you should pay the minimums on the student loan and car loan, and focus on putting more toward the credit cards. I would start with the smallest CC since it has interest and because can pay if off quicker.
When I first got out of college I had about 6k in CC debt on 4 different cards and was completely overwhelmed, since I had very little left over after paying my rent. I took me a couple years and it was really, really, hard, but I paid it all off and it feels so good to not have CC debt anymore (I do still have student loan debt). I only started using a CC again recently for practical purposes, and I pay it off religiously, like once a week I log into my account and pay off the balance.
The hardest part is just being aware and facing the reality of the situation, which it sounds like you’re doing! Just think, if you can pay off those small CCs it will free up two payments a month. You can definitely do this. Oh, and if you haven’t used it yet, I recomment using Mint.com and setting up budgets and goals.