Judith Levine, author of Not Buying It, and her partner, Paul, stopped shopping for an entire year in order to pay down their debt. "Seeing that credit card balance staying more or less the same every single month just drains you," Judith says. "I thought, 'For one year, I'm going to buy nothing but the barest necessities, and see what happens.'"
Judith and Paul cut themselves off—no eating out, no going to the movies, no buying books, CDs, clothes, lattes—nothing! By the end of the year, Judith was stunned to discover how much money she had saved—$13,000!
It wasn't just Judith's bank account that benefited from her new lifestyle. She rediscovered life's simple pleasures—long walks, library books and dining at home. Plus, she and Paul didn't have a single argument over money for the entire year. "I realized how much fun we could have and what a satisfying life I could have on a lot less," she says.
Latasha is a single mom and part-time student with a salary of $31,000 and debt totaling $104,000. Her $1,200 monthly mortgage payment is more than she can afford. To get by, she borrows money from student loans to pay off her mounting credit card debt. She's been on four vacations in the past three years, spending an average of $2,500 per trip. "I'm living way beyond my means," she says. "I need to get out of the cycle of debt before it's too late."
"It is never too late," says Jean Chatzky. Instead of vacations and other material goods, Oprah and Jean tell Latasha that she can provide a better legacy for her children by getting her finances under control. If Latasha doesn't act soon, interest rates could double her debt in five years and almost triple it in 10.
Jean is going to work with Latasha to get her income and expenses in order.
Oprah.com's message boards were flooded with posts from members sharing their own Debt Diet stories. Chloe says the Debt Diet has helped her be more aware of her spending. "I have a problem with impulse shopping, especially online," she says. "After [the show], I went to my computer and removed from my 'Favorites' on the Internet all the auctions, and instant shopping sites I used to look at and just buy, buy, buy. Now it's bye, bye!
"Thanks for pointing out that small things can produce big results. Keep up the good work and thanks so much for launching the Debt Diet, it has made me think more than twice about every dollar." More from Oprah's Debt Diet
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