Eliminate Credit Card Debt, The Beginning

Let me set the scene and see if this is familiar to anyone out there.

November 1997, I was set to retire from the US Navy in Sept of 1998.

Calculator Tape ImageI had about $26,000 of unsecured debt (credit card debt). Every time I was transferred from one base to the next over the years our debt would increase by about $2-3,000.

We were making all of our payments on time, but it was like treading water we never gained on our debts and the biggest expense we had were our three lovely kids, ages 1, 4, and 8.

Did any of the previous sound familiar?

At this point we decided that we had to see what help was available to try and work our way out from under debt load. The most common group specializing in this type of assistance at the time was the Consumer Credit Counseling Service, a non-profit group that had offices across the USA. This is still one of the best groups out there.

The Consumer Credit Counseling Service in 1997 required one-on-one counseling and a budget set up with a counselor. I was arrogant enough to think that I didn't need any face time with a counselor. I wanted a group that was easy to use but I didn't want them to get personal with me. I knew I was going to have to stop the use of my credit cards and start taking a bite out of the debt crunch.

I used the internet to research alternatives and came up with Debt Counselors of America now called Myvesta. This was a non-profit group that would negotiate a lower interest rate with the various credit card companies on our behalf (this group doesn't seem to do this any more but does have great info on the topic). The only catch was everything had to be paid through them.

My credit card interest rates went from 21%-0%, 18%-10%, 18%-6%, 18-4% and 16%-16%. My largest debt on a single card was the Discover card which went for 21%-0%.

The only credit card I didn't place under the program was the one from my credit union. I have a good history with them, a reasonable rate and I didn't know how using the program would effect my credit rating. I wanted one avenue that was free of any possible problems. The card was at its limit and wouldn't be going down too fast since the other cards are the priority. But this card was listed as off limits by my wife and I.

Well this was the beginning. Later I'll explain what difficulties we ran into and how this effected our life.

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