In Charge of Your Charge Card

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“In Charge of Your Charge Card,” Ensign, Aug. 2004, 72

In Charge of Your Charge Card

Weighted down by the struggles of being a divorced parent, I turned to credit cards to handle some of my money problems. But my debt had become a significant burden by the time I could earn a teaching degree and start a stable career. Unable to progress financially with that burden, I finally decided to follow Church leaders’ counsel to get out of debt and stay out. More than 20 years later, I still enjoy a debt-free life. Though individual circumstances vary, many of us have the means to pull ourselves out of the debt trap. Following are two practical ideas that helped free me from credit card debt:

1. Toss the temptation. I cut up and threw away all my credit cards except the one with the lowest interest rate. I stored it in my bank safe deposit box for emergency use only.

2. Plan your payments. Next I reviewed my monthly budget to determine how much money I had available to pay off debts after my necessary expenses were covered. Then I determined the various interest rates and amounts owed per card. I paid the most I could afford on the card with the highest interest rate and the highest debt first, paying the minimum monthly balance on the others. Once I paid off the first card, I concentrated on the next-highest debt, continuing the strategy until all were paid. At times I felt discouraged, but I made a chart to track my progress. Others may find it best to consolidate all credit card debt to one low interest rate. Whatever plan you choose, persevere until you accomplish your goal. In my case, it took about 18 months.

Being in debt once kept me from fully enjoying my life with my children. However, with the help of the Lord, we exercised the self-discipline, faith, and patience necessary to achieve our goals. The results have netted years of increased financial security and peace of mind—blessings that have more than compensated for anything we could have purchased with a credit card.

Jackie Vineis, Peavine Mountain Ward, Reno Nevada North Stake

Illustrated by Joe Flores