This Woman Crushed $15,000 in Credit Card Debt

credit card debt

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.

Looking ahead

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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1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (
  2. Personal LoansFixed rates from 5.49% APR to 14.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 4.98% APR to 11.44% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of December 21, 2017 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 4.98% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.34% plus 3.89% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Fixed interest rates range from 5.99% – 16.24% (5.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Lowest rates shown are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
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4.98% - 14.24%1$5,000 - $100,000
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5.99% - 16.24%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
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