Welcome to the first installment of The Debt Diet Challenge, in which Credit.com follows the lives of five people selected to take Jean Chatzky’s Debt Diet to get themselves out of debt and on track to a better financial future.
Every week, Jean Chatzky will update us on the participants’ progress, and the participants will blog about their experiences with the program.
Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a woman of “wealth” and taste ….
I’m Erin—a 30-something with a great family, a great job and a mountain of debt. There may be many of you out there in the same stage of life—you started with very little and worked your way up and have the debt to prove it. I started the Debt Diet journey with Jean Chatzky last week and have begun sifting my way through her website and her plan.
I’ve previously been a follower of Dave Ramsey and, although I’ve made some progress, we’re still struggling with debt. He’s got a great plan but it simply hasn’t worked for us. I start out each year renewing my vow to follow our debt snowball and, despite my best efforts, I start in the exact same place the next year. Let’s face it—buying stuff is fun. Who doesn’t get a high when hearing the “swoosh” of your credit card through the reader? Who doesn’t feel giddy when the cashier smiles while handing you your receipt as you walk away with your latest (and you swear the last) purchase? We all do—you’d be lying if you told me different!
What I’ve learned from the Debt Diet in the last two weeks is the following: getting out of debt takes time. I’m of the generation that wants a quick fix. When I exercise, I want to weigh 20 pounds less the minute I step off the elliptical. When I start a new debt plan, I want the debt to get paid down faster than humanly possible. The Debt Diet will teach me to have the patience I need to get through the process of paying down our debt. It will also teach me to dive into the reasoning behind why I buy—and I’ve already found that difficult to talk about.
I’ll talk weekly with Jean and disclose to her how we’ve succeeded but also how we’re struggling. And trust me, it’s only been a week and we’re already struggling. In my last conversation with Jean, I had only been on the Debt Diet for a week and had already charged another $2,000 on my credit cards. She wasn’t mean but she was clearly concerned and wanted me to really dive in to the “why” behind my spending. After I got off the phone, I felt like a child who just got put in time out. “You mean I have to sit here and think about what I’ve done??!! Well I don’t wanna! You can’t make me!!”
But I took my time out like a champ. I’m writing down everything I purchase this week on a spreadsheet and have a column dedicated to the “why” for each purchase. And let me tell you, the “whys” are proving to be quite interesting. Stay tuned—I’ll share them with you next week.
Also, I’m not ready to share what I look like yet as I’m quite embarrassed by the amount of debt we’re currently paying down so I’m sharing what I call “Puzzled.” As we progress through this process, I’ll share more pieces until I become comfortable enough to disclose my identity. Thanks for following my story and I pray for strength and courage for all of you who are trying to dig out of debt just like me.
Image courtesy Erin, Debt Diet Challenge blogger