One of the readers over at My Dollar Plan want’s to eliminate his debt and My Dollar Plan has opened it up to all of us to give it a go at creating a debt plan for the reader before he announces what he has/will suggest.
Here’s the basics:
The reader has approximately $14,000 in debt.
- Personal Line: $3,500 balance @ 15% – $7,000 limit
- Credit Card #1: $2,300 balance @ 9.6% – $5,000 limit
- Credit Card #2: $6,600 balance @ 8.5% – $8,000 limit
- Credit Card #3: $1,900 balance @ 18% – $2,000 limit
According to the post, he’d like to keep using the 3rd card as it gives him cash back on certain purchases. If you’ve been following the Beating Broke Rules, you’ll know how I feel about Credit Cards.
The other factors we are given are that the persons income is in the high 5 figures, so for this exercise, we’ll assume about 75k. He’s currently paying $210 on the personal line, $0 on the first card, $1200 on the second card, and $100 on the third card. We don’t get anything about living expenses which makes it a little hard to nail down a very good debt plan, but we can give it a try.
We’ll use what he’s currently paying as his total income that is usable for this purpose. He’s also got some company stock, but we won’t be using that as selling stock can sometimes carry a pretty hefty tax bill. Sidenote: Company stock plans are great, but some thought should be given to diversifying. That’s another article though.
Let’s get the reader started on creating a debt plan.
Current payments: $1510
As you can probably tell by the byline of this blog (The borrower is Slave to the Lender), I don’t like debt. I especially don’t like credit card debt. And Personal lines are not much better, but have the added benefit of not normally being as easily accessible as credit cards. I also think that cash back cards are a waste of time. If you miss even one payment, you’ll pay more in interest to the card company than they paid back on your purchases for the whole year.
Here’s how I would go about creating a debt plan.
Pay the minimum payment on everything but the 3rd card. That should pay it off in just over 1 month. Now, if you insist on using that card for the cash back, you must also insist on paying it off every month. I suggest taking your receipts home each night and making a bill pay payment for the amount. If you can live without the cash back on the credit card, you might look into finding a bank account that would give you a cash back on debit card purchases.
After the third card is paid off, start on the personal line. Pay minimum payments to everything but the personal line. With a balance of about $3400 at this point, it should take just under 3 months to pay it off. That gets us to October. I really don’t think, unless you can find some more disposable income, that you’ll make the November cutoff. One way would be to sell your stock, but you should be very sure of the tax ramifications of doing so before selling it. If you do, start with the first item here and work your way down until the money is gone.
Once we have the third card and the personal line paid off, we are left with just card 1 and card 2. Both have similar interest rates, but the balances are different. Card 1 has about $2300 in balance and could be paid off rather quickly, so I think that would be a good place to start. It would take just under 2 months to pay that one off.
That leaves you with only the ~$6000 on Card 2 at the end of the year. If you are diligent and continue paying the $1500 a month, you can have that card paid off in 4 months.
It will take longer than November unless you sell your stock, but when you are done your financial picture will be so much better for it. The more you squeeze out of your budget (you do have one right?) now, the faster the debt gets paid off and the sooner you can start planning for your future instead of paying for your now.