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. Congratulations for being free of credit card debt. I love that you pointed out that one of the things that holds you back is societal norms – we are definitely a nation of consumers, so you will have to break from the pack and do your own thing if you want to stop yourself from drowning in debt. It may be hard, but the end result is so worth it and you are a living testament to that!

    1. Thanks for the kind words. We certainly were guilty of following the herd. I’m glad we broke from the pack!

  2. Congrats, Kim! Staying out of the cycle of debt seems to be almost as difficult as digging out in the first place.
    I also couldn’t agree more about it setting an example for kids. Your daughter is lucky to have you as a financial role model, and will likely learn how to better handle her money early on because of the examples you’re setting.

    1. Let’s hope she doesn’t totally rebel and go in the opposite direction!

  3. One year! How cool is that???? We have very little debt, but what we have is pretty much on hold until my kids graduate from college. At that point, then we’ll pay off the houses. That’ll wipe our slate clean.

    1. Twins in college would certainly be a challenge, but I have no doubt you’ve been planning for years. Clean slate sounds really good.

  4. Congrats on making it a year! I 100% agree on the importance of big-picture goals. The other nice part about getting those big things handled first is that it gives you more freedom with the rest of your money. Hopefully not to rack up debt, but to be able to enjoy it guilt-free.

    1. I still feel a bit odd about spending money because it brings back memories of the debt, but I really don’t ever see us getting into trouble again unless something crazy happens.

  5. Yes I do believe that the parents are the rule models of their kids. If you’re doing the wrong action then expect earlier that your child will follow your wrong behavior too.

    1. I think setting a good example for your children is one of the most important things you can give them.

  6. Such a great post Kim! It really is easy to get caught up in what other people are doing and have it negatively affect your budget.

    1. I try to do my own thing, but it is easy to get carried along with others, especially family.

  7. We paid off everything except our mortgage this summer and man did it feel good!

    Now we’re focusing more on after tax investing in index funds. =)

    1. You guys rock it every month and have a pimped out garage to boot!

  8. Setting a good example for your kids is a great point, that’s perspective I don’t have yet. My parents’ influence on me is the only reason I’ve been able to avoid a deep hole of debt!

    1. I hope my kiddo says that about me someday.

  9. Love, love this post, Kim! I agree one of the biggest reasons people go back into debt after they just get themselves out of it, is because they lack goals. Without purpose, you have no reason to say “no”. To me, once you give your money purpose, it becomes so much easier to say “no” without feeling deprived, which is also important. No one wants to feel deprived and when we do, it makes it even harder to say “no” the next time we see something we want. And, of course, you know that I wholeheartedly agree that kids learn from their parents, which is why we need to be good financial role models. Kids are always observing us, even when we don’t realize it. You’re setting a great example for your daughter, Kim!

    1. Thanks. I hope to be a good role model, and we always hope to have a purpose for our spending so it is not wasted.

  10. Nice work Kim! I remember mine was back in July 2012. It was a great day for me and my goals where then and now to grow my wealth. I am slowly doing that and I still use my credit card for every purchase. I just pay it off each month, so I don’t incur interest.

    1. We use our credit cards for as much as we can, but like you, we pay them off every month. I never intend to pay a penny in credit card interest again.

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