Last year I made a commitment to myself to pay off all my credit card debt. I was tired of lying in bed at night chiding myself for letting it get to be so much. On five or six different cards (I don’t remember now).

I started by enrolling in Financial Peace University, a 12-week course "led" by Dave Ramsey.

For the class I had to actually tally up what I owed. When you live in the land of denial, you never do such things. I swore I would never tell anyone how much it was. I was (am) too embarrassed that I let myself get that far into the hole. Let’s just say it had five figures ($00,000) and is probably more than you think.

I buckled down and followed the rules. Got my $1,000 emergency fund set. Did the Debt Snowball. And in November I made my last credit card payment. It is so lovely to see the last balance finally at $0.00!

It took 20 months. At first the projections of when I would be done were five and six years out. A lifetime away. It was very discouraging. Instead of letting it get me down, I just became more determined to not let it take that long.

I set a strict budget for myself (which I’d never done before). Post bills, every last cent from my paycheck went towards the debt. As did every extra dollar that came my way. By the wayside went trips to the bookstore. The Hallmark store. Target (cause you can find everything there!). Basically all shopping outside the grocery store.

I scrabbled together enough to take two weekend trips during that 20 months. Me, who used to take five – six – seven trips a year! It’s been a struggle, for sure.

But, something inside of me pushed myself to get it all under control. With the economy the way it is today, I feel less worried now. If something happened tomorrow, I don’t need to go to Africa. I could get a job at B&N and still pay all my bills. That’s a burden lifted too.

I should be starting Step 3, but instead I am paying for my trip to Tanzania (approximately $10,000). I plan to have that paid off by August.

Then on to Stages 3 and 4. And I don’t need to worry about Stage 5 . . . whoot! I’m nearly there. And that feels great!

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