Home > Managing Debt > Debt Diet Challenge Week #12: A Slow, Invisible Process

Comments 0 Comments

The Debt Diet is an online behavioral change program to help users get out of debt by putting aside $10 a day.  It was developed by Pro-Change Behavior Systems and Jean Chatzky, author of the best-selling Pay It Down and a coach on The Debt Diet series on the Oprah show.

Jean Chatzky read the applications solicited by Credit.com and chose 5 participants.  She got them started on The Debt Diet and is now speaking to them once a week, answering their questions and helping them to get off to a good start.  For their part, our participants are doing The Debt Diet exercises, which include tracking their spending, negotiating monthly bills (using The Debt Diet scripts) and trying to modify their heavy-spending ways.  You can find The Debt Diet ($49.95) at jeanchatzky.com. The participants also blog regularly on Credit.com about their experiences with The Debt Diet.

It’s been almost three months since we undertook the Debt Diet program on credit.com and the experiences of the participants, in my opinion at least, are very representative of the program in that they’ve all been extremely different.

Let’s look at them one by one, starting with Chris. If I had to name a poster child that came out of this process Chris would be it.  From the get-go she not only did the exercises in the Debt Diet, she experienced the high that can come along with making significant process in getting rid of debts.  She tracks her progress to the penny.  And even when an expensive setback (like having to fix her sidewalk) comes along, she manages to stay focused on the future.  Chris knows precisely what date she will be totally out of debt.  She has her eyes on the prize.  I enjoy talking to her, but I feel like a parent with a child who has fully embraced their independence.  She doesn’t really need me anymore.

[Related Articles: The Debt Diet Challenge Series]

Penny’s case was the hardest to crack—specifically because she earns less money than our other participants.  I frequently talk about how it’s easier to control the spending side of the equation than it is to control the income side; if you don’t have enough money coming in, it is very hard to make headway on your debts.  That’s why I’ve been so proud of the hard work Penny (and her husband) have done to make progress on their debts, including paying off a Dell Computer bill that’s been nagging Penny like an albatross.  The best news I heard over the three months was Penny’s email that she’d gotten a second job at her local Wal-Mart.  Employment in her part of the country is extremely hard to come by and she put in a number of applications before this came through.  It’s going to make securing her financial future a whole lot easier.

I’ve sometimes noted that dealing with your money isn’t a financial skill, it’s a life skill.  That’s something I’ve thought of often in talking to Melissa.  She and her husband earn a good living and they have the higher level of bills—from the mortgage to the day care—that go along with it.  They both work extremely hard and feel, as people often do, that they deserve to enjoy the money that they bring in.  I totally get that.  My husband and I sometimes say “this is why we work” when we spend money on something we know is frivolous or unnecessary—we just happen to want it.  Unfortunately, in Melissa’s case, those wants (from both her and her husband) sometimes get in the way of making as much headway on their debt as she’d like.  In the next week or so, she and I are going to have a three-way call with her husband to make sure the two of them are on the same page.  It will make the getting out of debt process much easier going forward.

[Resource: Get your free Credit Report Card]

Finally, let’s talk about Erin.   As we started working through the process, I scheduled weekly calls with each of the participants.  My goal was to check-in, answer questions, cheerlead when necessary and keep them motivated and on track.  Almost from the start, I had trouble getting Erin on the phone.  She’d miss the call, wouldn’t call me back, and when we did connect she seemed to want to hang up almost immediately.  So I wasn’t surprised when she dropped out.

The bottom line: Getting out of debt is both a slow process and an invisible one.  No friends are going to notice the pounds falling off and comment on how young or slim or rested you look.  It’s a process that requires you to experience the satisfaction from the inside.  And some people just aren’t ready to take it on.  Erin wasn’t.  Chris, Penny and Melissa are.  I think they’re proof positive that no matter what your income level happens to be, when you decide you are ready to make this—or any other change—you can do it.  And having a little help never hurts.

[Featured Product: Looking for your credit report?]

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team