We started Oprah's Debt Diet in May 2007 and paid off the debt in less than a year. Now we have student loans, but we didn't include them in our debt diet because they were so large. We just focused on credit cards. Our goal now is to start applying all of our extra funds toward our student loans so we can have those paid off. We still work the part-time jobs.
We actually haven't run our credit score yet, we want to wait one full month of everything being paid off. As of March 31, 2008, everything is paid off. It's very exciting. My husband and I both just said we were going to plan some sort of special thing for our family. A little trip, or go out to dinner, or do something fun, but I don't think we're going to. I think we're going to continue to work and apply the money toward a new vehicle, which we need but don't want to go into debt to purchase. We're going to keep saving to purchase that, and then when we do, that will be our celebration.
I don't think we'll use credit cards again. There is the possibility that something unforeseen could happen where my husband or I couldn't work, and if we absolutely had no other possible choice, we would. But our goal is to stay 100 percent away from them. We would have to be without money for several months before we would use them. We are building up an emergency fund, with a goal of a minimum of three months of income saved. At the same time we started doing this, we also set up a little savings account where we put $30 a month, and that is our Christmas and birthday account, and so that's how our family gets Christmas, birthday, Easter, etc. If there's no money in that account, then no one is getting a gift. If there's money in that account, we've learned to bargain, shop wisely and make our own gifts and cards if we can. We do what we can with what we have rather than relying on what we don't have."
Do you have a success story you'd like to share or a question for Jean? Find out how to get Jean's personal advice.
Jean's book Make Money, Not Excuses is now available in paperback.
Real Women, Real Excuses continues...