One Year After Paying Off Credit Card Debt

one year after paying off credit cardsWe’ve had so much going on for the last couple of months that I actually forgot our one year anniversary of freedom from credit card debt. We paid off the last of our $30,000 credit card balance on November 27, 2012 and haven’t looked back. In past years, we were able to pay off credit cards, but ran them back up within a few months. What happend this time that kept us out of debt?

You Can’t Stay Out of Debt if You Don’t Have Goals

We never stayed out of debt in the past because paying off Visa and Mastercard meant lots of available credit to buy more things. We didn’t have a purpose for our money. To keep free from credit card debt, you have to know how much you make, how much you need to spend for necessities, and what your short and long term goals are. If you know what you want to do with your money outside of shopping to cure boredom, it’s easy to plan how to get there.

When you don’t have a purpose for your money, it’s easy to spend it on silly things. Now I know exactly how much I have to save each month to max out retirement contribution and our HSA account. We also have goals of paying off our house and buying more rental properties. I don’t want new shoes when I see the bigger picture of being able to work less or retire early.

You Can’t Stay Out of Debt If You Follow the Herd

Society encourages debt. You can finance anything and bring it home today. Most people think about if they can afford a monthly payment rather than how the purchase will affect their future. People want things they see others have. We are often judged on how we appear and what people think we should be driving or wearing. If you want to stay in debt, there are plenty of people to help keep you there.

I know frugal people, but the real community I’ve found that I hold myself accountable to is online. If you don’t have friends and family members who share your goals, find some new ones. I’m not saying to cut out everyone in your life, but you can’t let others take you down with them. Learn to follow the right set of Joneses.

You Can’t Expect Your Children to Stay Out of Debt if You Don’t

Maybe this is the bigger reason we are going to stay out of debt. Having a child is a motivation like no other. While it is possible to not follow in the footsteps of your parents, like Laurie said recently, we do inherit many of our behaviors that make it harder to change.

If your parents smoke, you are more likely to smoke. If your parents are violent, you are more likely to be violent. If your parents made lots of money mistakes, you are more likely to make money mistakes. No one wants their children to struggle with the same issues that caused problems for them, but you can’t tell kids to do as I say not as I do. If you do something you don’t want your child to repeat, stop doing it. I want to be debt free and be smart with money so my daughter will have the tools to follow that path rather than setting her up for financial failure.

What You Can Do To Stay Out Of Credit Card Debt

There are lots of can’ts in this post, and I always like to keep it positive, so here is my advice for staying out of credit card debt.

  1. Make paying off credit card debt your focus. IT CAN BE DONE
  2. When you have six months left to debt payoff, make goals for a year, five years, and ten years.
  3. Be your own person, and don’t jump back in with people who will make you want to waste money.
  4. Take some time to think about how good it feels to be out of debt. This is reason enough to never buy things you can’t afford.
  5. Spend money. Yes, it’s OK to spend money on things you value and that bring you happiness. Just make sure you have money to pay for them before you buy.

I have to say that 2013 has been one of my best years, and I look forward to every day, even the days when bills arrive because I know I will be able to pay all of them without going into debt. I’d love to hear from others who have been debt free for a while or from those in debt about your plans for when you do pay everything off.

When is your deb free day? What is the goal for your money after that?

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Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of


  1. Debt and the Girl says:

    It is really a great feeling being credit card debt. Congrats on getting there!! Hope next year is a great one for you.

    1. Thanks. I am looking forward to 2014.

  2. Great post Kim! As others have said, the point about not being able to expect your kids to stay out of debt if you can’t is such an important one. Kids, especially at your daughter’s age, are such sponges. We see it with our daughter and she is starting to form basic ideas about money and we had a discussion with her about it this weekend actually when she wanted something. Congrats on the milestone! 🙂

    1. I sometimes think I’m giving her a complex about money, but I guess it’s better than the other alternative.

    1. I wish you the best of luck. It feels great to get out of debt.

  3. Excellent post Kim! Congrats on your debt free anniversary! I think having kids really makes you want to be a better person and a better role model for them. I definitely agree that kids model their parents behavior and “do as I say and not as I do” is hypocritical and never works. I know someone who likes to buy cool new things for himself…and his teenage daughter is the same way. No matter how much he tells her that she can’t have everything that her friends have, his lecture falls on deaf ears…most likely because she sees his behavior.

    1. I tell myself all the time that if I do XYZ, I can’t complain if my child does it too. I don’t really have any terrible habits, but it makes you think about the things you buy, eat, and do to keep healthy.

  4. Kim, this is one of the most motivating posts I’ve read this year. I just love what you said about following the right set of Joneses. I also LOVE what you said about not telling your kids “do as I say and not as I do”. This is been one of the rules that has motivated us to stay on track with our budget and debt payoff plan. Not sure quite what our debt payoff date is yet, but after that, our goal is to save, give and save and give some more. 🙂

    1. You are too sweet. I will do a dance for you on your debt payoff day.

  5. We paid off our last debt a few years ago and it felt great! Now we’re just left with mortgage debt which seems like it will go on until the end of time. I can’t wait to pay our house off too.

    1. It is so hard to put big amounts of money toward a mortgage and still have the same payment. Paying one off must feel fabulous.

  6. This stopped me in my tracks -> “You Can’t Expect Your Children to Stay Out of Debt if You Don’t.” I don’t even have kids yet but it’s so important to pass along good habits, and I absolutely believe that if you don’t get out of debt yourselves your children will pick up the habit. Great reminder, Kim!

    1. Kids certainly keep you in line. I got a lot of “because I said so” when I was a kid, so I’m trying not to do that, although after about 500 questions sometimes that’s all you want to say.

  7. I’m glad to see that you included “You Can’t Expect Your Children to Stay Out of Debt if You Don’t” in you post. This is exactly why we’re including our kids in the process of getting out of debt. They know that we’ve made mistakes and see the consequences. Hopefully that will give them a unique perspective on how financial irresponsibility can affect the rest of your life! Congrats to you on your one year anniversary!!!

    1. Thanks Travis. Your family must be really proud of how far you’ve all come.

  8. Great post! We’ve got a ton of student loan debt to pay off, and we are looking at 2016 before we get it all paid off. After that we plan to do more investment in real estate- we have two rental properties but would like to have more!

    1. 2016 is really not that far away. It’s great that you have a date and plans!

  9. Congrats again on paying off all of your credit card debt! I’ve got an auto loan that I’m looking forward to paying off this year. It will be nice to have an extra +$400 in my pocket every month.

    1. Absolutely. What will you do with it?

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