Like millions of Americans, Denise Sincere had credit card debt.
By relying on a credit card to pay for emergencies and unexpected expenses, she racked up $15,000 in debt. That’s significantly more than what the average American carries in credit card debt.
With high-interest rates, Denise realized it would take her years to pay off her debt if she kept paying just the minimum.
That’s when she decided to take charge of her money.
By ruthlessly cutting her expenses, Denise was able to pay off her debt ahead of schedule and has built a path to a more secure financial future ever since.
Getting into debt
As a single mom working to make ends meet, Denise often had to use credit cards to fill the gap when an emergency would pop up.
And between raising a child, medical bills, and dental costs, the debt kept piling up. Denise did keep up with her payments, paying at least the minimum due on her credit cards each month.
But when she looked at her statements and the repayment timetable, she realized she would be paying thousands more than what she charged due to interest fees. What’s more, she would be in debt for years.
Denise says she started listening to shows by financial experts like Warren Buffett and Suze Orman. And their often blunt advice and expertise were great motivators in changing Denise’s financial direction.
“I heard Suze say, ‘wipe out your debt as soon as possible, then you can save more,’ and that resonated with me,” Denise says. “It occurred to me, do I really want to be writing checks to companies for months? Or do I want to start paying myself?”
Making lifestyle changes
Feeling inspired, Denise decided to change her own life. And knew she had to get rid of the debt as quickly as possible.
She did the math and saw how much paying the minimum on her cards was costing her in interest fees. Then, she took action.
Denise applied a rigorous and disciplined perspective to her finances, evaluating each expense and weighing its value. By taking a step back and going through her bills, she was able to cut her expenses drastically.
Denise also looked at her grocery bill and realized that she, like many Americans, was wasting a lot of food and buying things when she had food in the pantry. She began cooking more with ingredients from the back of the cabinet, which helped reduce her grocery costs.
Looking for waste in all of her habits, she eliminated cable from her budget, cut out clothes shopping, and dropped down an internet tier.
“I asked myself, ‘does this expense make sense?’” Denise recalls. “I had a cable package with channels I never watched, and I realized that was silly. And I applied that mindset to everything.”
“My daughter wasn’t thrilled to lose cable, but I had to make an executive decision to rein in our expenses,” adds Denise.
Eliminating credit card debt
After several months of cutting back on her expenses, Denise was able to bring her credit card balance way down.
But when she looked at her remaining balances, she realized it would take her six more months of diligent payments to wipe it all out.
While she had been paying off debt, Denise had also been building up a savings account. But she realized her savings account wasn’t doing her any good just sitting there while she had debt.
Psychologically, she struggled with using her savings to pay off her credit cards. She connected savings with security, and losing that fund made her nervous.
But when she did the math, Denise reminded herself it was the smart decision.
“Money is often an emotional topic, and it shouldn’t be,” she says. “It takes discipline to take the emotion out of it and to see the reality of things.”
“I had to tell myself that it was okay, that without the debt I could build up my savings faster, without interest charges,” adds Denise.
So, she made the decision to use the money she saved and make one last lump sum payment on her credit cards. And with that, she became completely debt free in October.
Ultimately, Denise says wiping out her debt was well worth all of her work and sacrifice.
“It feels so good,” she says. “The money that comes in now goes right to savings. I’m paying myself now, not other people, and that has given me a sense of freedom and control I didn’t have before.”
Now, Denise can focus on her professional growth. As a business and vision ambassador, she empowers others in personal development. She provides consulting and coaching to help people achieve their goals through discipline and perseverance.
And, most importantly, Denise stresses that anyone can take charge of their own lives, whether it’s finding success at work or eliminating debt from their lives.
“People are afraid of their finances,” Denise explains. “I’m not a financial guru; I’m just an average person who had the courage to make a change.”
“If people are willing to take a hard look at themselves and their habits, they can make a change too, regardless of their economic level,” says Denise. “If I can do it, anyone can. They just have to face themselves.”
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|* = includes AutoPay discount|
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