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  1. #61

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    Quote Originally Posted by FunnyBut View Post
    I am strangely attracted to this show, even though I have no debt. I would recommend this show because you look at how horribly bound to money these folks are, and afterward, you don't feel like buying anything for the rest of your life.
    Spending money/using CC can be an addiction and that is why there is a Debtors Anonymous - I have the misfortune of having two such addicts in the basement suite (we rent the upstairs suite and have to share the bills with them, but I'll leave that story for the snark thread).

    These two go nuts when they have credit and then max out and enter a state of severe withdrawal (there are various sorts of issues underlying this addiction, such as money from him is seen as an expression of love by her). They literally have no control and don't even think of living within their means - for example, they bought two puppies from pet stores for close to $2000 when they could have got them for much less elsewhere. One of the puppies got out of the yard and didn't come back (another story I'll skip for them moment), so they bought another one for $2000. And the woman liked a particular brand of expensive designer crystal, so the man went out and bought her three clocks with this crystal in them, each being at least a few hundred bucks. (Funny aside - this man's job, which he excels at, is promoting credit cards).

    They ended up going on a delirious $70,000 CC spending spree over the course of two years - quite spectacular to witness, actually - thinking they could just declare a second bankruptcy within ten years, but it didn't work out. So now they are flat broke and can't even afford groceries. Being around them is like being around a person is in withdrawal from alcohol or drugs, but even worse because they are in so much debt that they are denied their $$ fix for a long time and the withdrawals don't pass in the course of a week or so.

    These are the types of folks featured on Till Debt Due Us Part (well maybe not that bad, but some are heading in that direction).

    But there is a difference between the people I described and the posters in this thread who are looking to reduce debt. Sometimes people accrue debt due to circumstances beyond their control and sometimes people who are a bit too careless with credit cards get a wake up call and learn their lesson before they have to declare bankruptcy or be referred to 'Till Debt Do Us Part'

  2. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by heckles View Post
    Credit cards offer relatively easy charge-back protection. This can come in very handy when you've been ripped off on car repairs, faulty dental work, a Caribbean hotel that advertised itself falsely, or some other bad service that cannot just be returned like merchandise can. Debit cards, cash and checks do not offer charge-back protection, which means to recover the money you're likely looking at legal action. Just don't use credit cards if you can't pay off the entire bill at the end of the month, and you should be fine.
    I am not even sure how you go about buying a plane ticket without a credit card -- short of going to an airport -- and even at the airport you're likely to get hit with a surcharge for needing to buy a ticket there. Airlines used to have city ticket offices, but I don't think that there are many out there any more.

  3. #63
    drinky typo pbp, closet hugger
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    You can buy airline tickets with debit cards.

    ETA: I remember when I was in my early 20s, had no credit cards and there were no debit cards - I had to buy my plane tickets through a travel agent that would take a personal check - but I couldn't pick up my tickets until a week later, when my check had cleared. Seems so quaint now
    Q: Why can't I read the competition threads?
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  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by FunnyBut View Post
    I am strangely attracted to this show [Til Debt Do Us Part], even though I have no debt. <snip>

    I am even more strongly drawn to the Suze Orman show on that precedes Till Debt on CNBC.
    Me too. I think it's because it makes me feel like a freaking financial genius compared to the people who call in to these shows.

  5. #65
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    If you can stomach trying to negotiate down your CC interest rate, try calling the CC companies and see if they'll work with you. Some will if you just call and talk to somebody, but if that doesn't work, at least you'll have tried.

    Quote Originally Posted by attyfan View Post
    A written budget is a great help. I have saved by careful grocery shopping (comparing advertised prices and going to whichever store is less that week, discount houses, etc.). Also, I buy almost all of my clothes at thrift stores. The clothes are surprisingly nice, and I still save even if I get them altered to fit better.
    My sister swears by thrift stores. They're the only place she buys clothes at now. When you have a Goodwill near a rich neighborhood, talk about the steals!

    Obviously shopping isn't a social thing for us as it is for some people. When you use shopping as recreation, that's really dangerous. Only shop when you need something. Take stock of what you have, see what you REALLY need, then go out and get that and ONLY that.

    I usually go weeks where I only spend money for food and gas. My biggest expenditures in the past few months have been skating shows/competitions and plane tickets to get there.

    Quote Originally Posted by genevieve View Post
    When someone is asking how to eliminate existing debt, this really isn't helpful.

    "Pay off your CC balance in full" is great advice for how to avoid debt in the first place, but when someone's asking how to eliminate debt that's already there, not so much.
    Yeah, I find advice like "buy your cars with cash" to be a little like closing the barn door when the horse has already run off. If your car payments are so dire that it makes sense to eat the loss of selling your car and getting an older one, go ahead, but buying a car with cash requires that one has the cash on hand to do it.

    Same with moving. Many places require a security deposit and/or first and last month's rent. People who don't have the cash on hand to pay for all that at once are relegated to stay at their more expensive place or to crash at motels.

    But for those of us who just want to save more (and don't have the quandary of choosing to save or pay down debt), I have another piece of advice - get your salary direct-deposited into your savings account, NOT your checking. I mainly use CCs as my method to pay for things (I often lose track of ATM withdrawals), so I'm able to make one big transfer each month from my savings to my checking to pay my bills. That way, I see EXACTLY how much I'm spending each month. I freak out a little bit if it's higher than normal, and cheer when it's lower than normal.

    Quote Originally Posted by numbers123 View Post
    I was (and sometimes still am) the impulse buyer. Clothes were my biggest impulse buy as well as the Bath and Body Works stuff. I had to pull out clothes from the closet to actually see what I had. And quit saying, I am saving ___ by buying this item at 50% off. If I didn't need it and didn't buy it I am saving 100%
    Yup. I can be a sucker for BOGO or 50%-off coupons, but then I think, if I didn't have that coupon, would I be buying it? If not, then why bother spending that money in the first place?

    Good luck to everyone paying down debt!

  6. #66

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    Everything that I have done has already been mentioned, so I just wanted to cheer on those who are attempting to do this. It's very freeing once it's done.

    People laugh when I tell them that we used wedding money to get rid of most of our debt, but that's how it happened. We had a wedding that cost about $6,000 and of that, what wasn't given as a gift by parents, was paid for in cash by us. And then what remained in the account after everything was paid for, combined with gifts, it took care of all our credit cards. Mr. nerdycool said after the fact that we should get married again so we could take care of our student loans!

    And now we use one credit card to pay for pretty much everything, and that gets paid off every month. Other things we do that have already been mentioned is to only buy what you have money for (including vehicles), making meals at home (we eat out only once a week), and having friends over on the weekends to play games. That last one doesn't sound like a legitimate option, but really, it keeps us from going out to bars and paying for overpriced drinks. That alone is easily $50 a night.

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anita18 View Post
    If you can stomach trying to negotiate down your CC interest rate, try calling the CC companies and see if they'll work with you. Some will if you just call and talk to somebody, but if that doesn't work, at least you'll have tried.
    It works if you just get careless with credit card once and get in debt, but some people have trouble confronting people all their life, so they'd rather let go of the money rather than confront difficult people/situations (like sales pressure or negotiating debt). Those are the ones most likely in financial trouble and least likely to negotiate.

    ETA: That's why I encourage people with that trait to NOT develop expensive taste. Expensive taste + easily pressured = financial disaster. I also encourage parents to not develop expensive taste with children if they see that "easily pressured" personality in the kids.

    My sister swears by thrift stores. They're the only place she buys clothes at now. When you have a Goodwill near a rich neighborhood, talk about the steals!

    Obviously shopping isn't a social thing for us as it is for some people. When you use shopping as recreation, that's really dangerous. Only shop when you need something. Take stock of what you have, see what you REALLY need, then go out and get that and ONLY that.
    I use my green sense to keep me from buying things. And I like thrift stores, not jsut because of the deals but it's really a green way of acquiring things. It's basically recycling materials already purchased once, not exploiting more cheap labor somewhere in some third world or exploit their natural resource or animals to get the stuff I desire.

    Once I saw a beautiful leather suitcase for $60. That was such a steal I kept staring at the bag at TJMax. Then I had to remind myself of the leahter that got ripped off animals and painted over to make the suitcase. I ended up not buying the bag.

  8. #68
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    Here's a stupid little one that won't pay off debt and is maybe better suited to the Glamour Puss thread , but it's still a penny pincher. I don't get manicures, and I allow myself just one pedicure a summer (maybe two). I just buy a bottle of OPI or Essie for $7, and do my own nails. If you keep your cuticles moisturized they pretty much take care of themselves (I use Burt's Bees lemon butter - one tin lasts a very long time). Filing is a nothing job. What makes the big difference in the quality of the finished job is the polish. People are always stunned when I tell them I do my own nails but really, it's just the nail polish, I'm no hidden manicurist talent. Not only do they look as good as what the salon gives me, but one $7 bottle lasts for months, and one manicure costs $10 and lasts for two days max. Win-win.

    I also cut out the $30 blowout when I get my hair done. Why should I pay the salon $30 just to blow dry my hair? That's crazy talk! I would cut out the coloring, too, but I tried that once and came out with very unprofessional results so that's an expense that I'm not ditching. I tried, though.
    The fastest thing out of New Jersey since Tricky Nicky in a Muscovian handbasket

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by nerdycool View Post
    And now we use one credit card to pay for pretty much everything, and that gets paid off every month.
    We have one main credit card that we use and it gives us cash back. Another one we use is a card that gives us cash back for gas purchases - it is also another flavor of card so that if the main one isn't accepted in some places, we have a back-up one.

    I used to shop extensively and had an Ann Taylor, Victoria Secret, Talbots, J Jill, Target and a Penney's card. I just don't use them anymore. Because I rarely shop for clothing anymore. That's what being a full time stay at home grandma will do for you. I wear jeans, tees and sweaters that I have had for a while.

    I do treat myself to a pedicure once every 4-6 weeks and do have a hair color/cut every 6-7 weeks.

  10. #70

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    I think knowing what you spend your money on each pay helps. I put my budget on a simple Excel spreadsheet as I get paid monthly (so I have to be careful to make it last all month). Any debts, savings and expenses are incorporated in that. Then you see what is left over after you have met your financial commitments.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  11. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anita18 View Post
    My sister swears by thrift stores. They're the only place she buys clothes at now. When you have a Goodwill near a rich neighborhood, talk about the steals!
    Not only that, but Goodwill and other thrift stores do some good things for people. Goodwill gives disabled people job training at their stores, and then those people have the experience to work at other retail stores.

  12. #72

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    Going along with spreadsheets, my hubby, who manages the money, likes to use Quicken. After everything is entered for the previous month, he imports it into a pie chart. It really gives perspective when you see roughly how much you spend in a given category every month. That's how it finally sank in that we were eating out entirely way too often, when we compared it to how much we spend at the grocery store and found the "out" section bigger than the "in" section.

  13. #73
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    Garr, are any mortgage lenders still doing cash-out refinances? Interest rates are super low right now... At least the debt is tax-deductible then.

    Also, I only suggest this to the most responsible people, but do you have any older relatives who are conservative investors? I have some family members who privately financed other family members' debt. The debtor was happy to pay 5% or so interest, while the financier was happy to earn 5% interest while the banks are paying < 2%.

  14. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by genevieve View Post
    Five years ago I had a really hard time figuring out how to deal with my debt problems, in large part because everywhere I turned for advice, all I got was "pay off the entire balance of your CC every month" or some variation of "cancel your cable bill, go to a cheaper phone plan, keep your car an extra year instead of buying a new one, take your vacation close to home, blah blah". None of this applied to me. My CC balances were way too large to pay off (hello, that was the whole problem), and all the expenses that I was supposed to give up, I never had to begin with. It made me feel very hopeless.
    Exactly. There was a point in my life where I was charging gas and groceries, or my mortgage check would bounce. Not everyone is racking up debt with Louis Vuitton purses and daily $10 coffee habits.

    A few things helped me get better control of my money (I am single and live mostly paycheck-to-paycheck), so I could put more toward the debt:

    A calendar of bills/paychecks. Maybe it sounds ridiculously obvious, but I have everything on autopay and I kept forgetting when it was supposed to clear. With the calendar, I write down exactly what is coming in and out and most importantly, WHEN. So when I have a $300 bill being withdrawn Wednesday, and my account says $301, do not spend $10 until payday Friday. It's kind of like a budget, but less scary.

    Meal planning. And not just, what recipes do I like, but an actual calendar. I've just started doing it, and I want to expand how I do it. I just write a little MTWRFSU chart of lunch and dinner on the back of my grocery list. I try to keep track of how many meals a recipe will make. A lot of eating out expenses occur because I haven't taken the time to cook dinner (I work nights so eat dinner at work). Also when I cook, I automatically divide up the food into portable containers instead of one big one, so I can grab and go. Not only has it helped me to stop eating out on impulse, but I eat healthier and spend a lot less on my grocery bill.

    Inventory my stuff. So I don't buy a deodorant and discover I have 2 in my cabinet. Be vigilant about finishing a conditioner or body wash before I buy a new one (can you tell I have an issue with little luxuries? ). I also try to take stock of my clothing situation so I don't buy another fun t-shirt for $10 when I really need new jeans. Do that enough times and you end up with 20 shirts and 1 pair of pants (true story), when you could have had 10 shirts and 3 pairs of pants.

    Sell your unused stuff. I sell a lot on eBay. I try to treat it like a second job — spend the time seeing what stuff is worth (and only list if it's worth it), take nice photos, detailed listing, etc. Take advantage of their free listing periods. I've been pretty brutal on myself on deciding what stays and what goes, as my impulse is to keep it all. I rarely sell big-ticket items, but instead of donating a tank top, I got $6 for it. I sold an unused flat iron for $60. Sounds good to me.

    Allow myself a little fun. Otherwise what's the point?? When I visited friends in NYC last month, I took $150 in cash and paid for everything in cash — entrance fees, subway, souveniers, everything. I even came home with $20 in pocket!

    Savings is the one thing I'm not as good at, usually because nearly every dollar is being spent. I do contribute to a 401k and I'm quite proud of how much I've saved up, but the cash on hand account is not as healthy as I'd like it to be. My workplace has done 4 weeks of unpaid furloughs this year, which is a ton of money lost. Not to mention my taxes went way up (condo discount repealed), the NY governor cancelled STAR refunds (~$350) and my escrow was underestimated (). This year I even had to quit skating. I held out as long as I could before it was simply untenable and the responsible thing to do was quit. I'm still sad about it but I WILL go back!

    Quote Originally Posted by danceronice View Post
    Nothing smug about it. Don't buy things you can't pay for.
    Nice attitude. See above about paying for gas to get to work (impossible to bike/carpool) and food to live.

  15. #75
    Minecraft Widow
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    I used Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps to get debt-free. Student loans, some credit cards, car payments - all gone.

    Sometimes I need to cover my ears and say "LA LA LA - I'm not listening" when his religious talk goes too far out of my comfort zone.

    Because when it comes to money, his advice has been very good for me.
    Cigarettes are like squirrels. They are perfectly harmless until you put one in your mouth and light it on fire. -- @ciggybuttz on Twitter

  16. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by vesperholly View Post
    This year I even had to quit skating. I held out as long as I could before it was simply untenable and the responsible thing to do was quit. I'm still sad about it but I WILL go back!
    I'm sorry. Me too, if it's any consolation. I thought about starting up again once I had my son, but the numbers don't work. Recreational is all I can do. Someday.....maybe I'll be Silver III by that point and my lack of an axel won't be that big a deal. Bwah ha ha.....

  17. #77
    Saint Smugpawski
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    I basically had to give up skating, too. This summer I've been using my weekends to work a third job, so there went my skating time. And buying a coach? Forget it. No room in the budget for that. Hasn't ever been room in the budget for that, actually. Why oh why couldn't I be more interested in ping pong?

    I squeeze every little drop out of my deodorants and body washes, too. And this week I've been eating a ton of beef because Stop n Shop had a huge family pack for $10 and it's been the gift that keeps on giving.
    The fastest thing out of New Jersey since Tricky Nicky in a Muscovian handbasket

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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis View Post
    Garr, are any mortgage lenders still doing cash-out refinances? Interest rates are super low right now... At least the debt is tax-deductible then.

    Also, I only suggest this to the most responsible people, but do you have any older relatives who are conservative investors? I have some family members who privately financed other family members' debt. The debtor was happy to pay 5% or so interest, while the financier was happy to earn 5% interest while the banks are paying < 2%.
    My parents loaned us money for my car last year at 2.5% interest. They are making more back than they would on interest if the money had remained in their savings and we are paying less for the car. And, now that our finances are drastically changed, payments are flexible rather than a set amount.

    I empathize with those saying that all the ideas for how to save money don't apply and don't help. We're trying to find ways to cut back and there isn't much we can do. We don't take vacations; we don't eat out more than once a week; I cook very efficiently (i.e. last week I got a whole chicken on a sale price for around $3. I roasted it with veggies for one meal, leftovers from that made a second, and then I picked off the remaining meat for chicken tacos for a third). Our cell plan is nothing but phone calls--no texting, data, gps, etc... and we can't get a lower cost. I get free coffee grounds and brew it at home (cut out the coffee shop is a routine "how to save" piece of advice). We could cut cable, I guess, but it is part of a bundle plan with our landline (a must because cell service is a bit unreliable here at times) and our internet (can't cut that because I work online from home) for less than I paid just for phone and internet where I previously lived. And if we cut the cable out, we'd pay more for internet and phone service--so the savings wouldn't be that much overall and we need some entertainment as movies, theatre, and most outings are gone from our budget--which is also why we're keeping Netflix--that and my husband's tendency to go buy a dvd if he wants to see a movie which was cured by Netflix. Our newest vehicle is a 2003 and we have no intention of replacing either of them any time soon. My husband changes oil and does minor car repairs himself or with his dad's help.

    No idea where to cut further.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    Our cell plan is nothing but phone calls--no texting, data, gps, etc... and we can't get a lower cost.
    We could cut cable, I guess, but it is part of a bundle plan with our landline (a must because cell service is a bit unreliable here at times) and our internet (can't cut that because I work online from home) for less than I paid just for phone and internet where I previously lived. And if we cut the cable out, we'd pay more for internet and phone service--so the savings wouldn't be that much overall and we need some entertainment as movies, theatre, and most outings are gone from our budget .
    Cell phone. I have a pay-as-you-go and use it only for important stuff. I pay about $15-20 a month for the whole family.

    I also cut my landline down to the minimal--not even call waiting. (People email these days)

    Cable-we as part of the homeowner's assoc negotiated a packaged deal so everyone got $15 a month for cable. If I have to pay more that will be a cut for me. I watch TV on the internet and netflix these days anyway.

  20. #80

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    snipped discussion of current "discretionary" spending...

    No idea where to cut further.
    My reaction? Don't beat yourself up. You're obviously watching spending so you can avoid increasing your debt.

    Can you pick up some seasonal work? Party stores need extra folks through Halloween. Florist/fruit basket folks need extra people around Thanksgiving. If either of you could find 10 hours a week of extra work, even at minimum wage, that would give you an extra $200 a month after taxes. That might be enough to get you over the hump.
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

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