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The Debt Diet Challenge Week 15: Paying Down, Paying Off

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This is our weekly installment of The Debt Diet Challenge, in which we follow the progress of participants selected to take Jean Chatzky’s Debt Diet as they work to get themselves out of debt and on track to a better financial future. Every week, the participants blog about their experiences with the program. Here are their latest dispatches…


Holy tomatoes! 15 weeks into the Debt Diet and I feel better about where I am now than I have in 20 years. Thank you, Jean Chatzky and Credit.com!!

Last week’s major spending areas:

  • Final payment on credit card number 2 (one to go)!
  • Car payment
  • Utilities and cable

Unplanned income: I received free moisturizer and a $20 gift card in a cosmetic study. I received $10 in Swagbuck gift cards to Amazon; I received $16 in free hair-care product coupons and several free samples in the mail of products I use.

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I am de-cluttering. I hauled two loads of stuff from my basement to a Scrub Day, which means free disposal.  This included a load of metal shelving units.   I live in a 100 year old home; the basement now holds a furnace, water heater, dehumidifier, a small freezer, a washer and a dryer.  My tools are organized; there is one broom, two shop vacuums, one ladder and a few pieces of lumber for some projects. There is nothing to attract spiders; nothing to get damp or ruined. Last year I paid $75 plus $30 in dump fees to have someone haul stuff from my basement and vacuum webs and creepy crawlers.  This year, I braved the basement with a friend, we hauled the stuff. I bought a second shop-vacuum and we both vacuumed webs and things.  Huge savings—the previous hauler was going to double the charge this year.

It pays to shop around for repairs! I have a brand-name hand-held vacuum that I use daily. It needed a power cord replaced, thanks to my beloved dog.  The name brand shop quoted me $79; a fix-it shop did it for $35 and gave me the extra long cord I wanted. Huge savings with one-day service rather than two weeks!

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Bargains this week:  $9.99-$14.99 window plastic on clearance at Target for $4.98 per box.  I have enough for this year and next!!!! Hopefully in the next two years I will have saved enough cash to replace my windows.

Bummer moment: Sometime today, the temperature inside the house dropped below 58 degrees and the furnace started.  Good moment: I missed the initial odor of a furnace start-up.  I plan on changing from work clothes to sweats in the evenings and keeping the temperature in the low- to mid-60s.  My furnace system will not accommodate a thermostat that programs temperatures, so instead I programmed cell-phone reminders for evenings and mornings to ensure I adjust temperatures.

Challenge:  I put extra money in my savings to help with winter utilities and sporadic payments like auto insurance.  I do not want to use the money I saved, I want to stretch my checking account to cover the expenses.  How many months I can go without dipping into the designated savings for these expenses?

[Resource: What Drives a Credit Score?]

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