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Do Something About Debt

This article was written by in Debt Reduction. 9 comments.


This is a guest article by Donna Freedman. Donna has been a staff writer for MSN Money and Get Rich Slowly. She now lives and writes the frugal life in Anchorage, Alaska for Money Talks News and her own blog, Surviving and Thriving.

Got debt? Do something about it.

That’s the focus of a new debt management campaign from personal finance guru Mary Hunt and Chase Slate. The “Do Something About Debt” program is a 15-day series of tried-and-true tactics, advice and personal encouragement.

Each year plenty of people resolve -– and fail -– to pay what they owe and to adopt smarter spending habits. Hunt can identify, because she’s always been candid about her own financial low point: more than $100,000 in unsecured debt and interest. It took her and her husband more than 13 years to make good on their obligations.

But pay it back they did, and Hunt vowed to use her newfound knowledge to help keep others from making the same mistakes. She also swore to help those already in debt to recover and learn to live fully and joyously without overspending.

“People need to have a goal: to go on the offense against debt,” says Hunt, author of some two dozen books plus the popular Debt-Proof Living website and Mary Hunt’s Everyday Cheapskate blog.

The new campaign began January 16 and continued through January 30. All the articles are remaining up at the Do Something About Debt site, so you can catch up any time you like.

The usual personal finance tools are included, such as creating a budget, understanding interest rates, the pros and cons of credit, planning for irregular expenses, avoiding certain financial missteps and examining your money attitudes. But Hunt is adding a new weapon to her arsenal: the Chase Slate card, with a zero-percent APR on balance transfers.

Those who qualify will be able to pay off existing credit card debt without interest for 15 months. In addition, there’s no fee for balance transfers taken out within 60 days of obtaining the card.
Not everyone who falls into debt has been out joyriding with the family card. Illness, layoff and natural disasters can send even the most responsible person into the red. Or maybe you truly don’t understand how it all happened. Maybe no one ever talked with you about debt except to say, “Sign here for your car loan/credit card/student loan.”

The bad news is you’re still on the hook for what you owe. The good news? Using Hunt’s tips and, maybe, consolidating current debt onto a Chase Slate card will help you work your way back onto firm financial footing.

“This is not some kind of a freebie. You’re going to have to come up with a plan to pay,” Hunt says. “But sometimes we just need an extra break. (Debt) is not ideal –- but that tree falling on your house wasn’t ideal, either.”

While optimistic in tone, the program is tempered by a strong dose of realism: There are no quick fixes but there are sure fixes –- if you’re willing to do the work.

“That’s a powerful message: that you can do something about it,” Hunt says.

Curtis Arnold, senior editor at CardRatings.com, included Chase Slate on his best balance transfer credit cards list, saying the card is an example of “what can happen when banks build long-term partnerships with customers who want to become debt-free.”

Photo: Flickr/reynermedia

Published or updated February 5, 2014. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

A newspaper journalist for 18 years, Donna Freedman has been a staff writer for MSN Money and Get Rich Slowly and is currently with Money Talk News. In addition to freelancing for The Real Deal by RetailMeNot, Donna has contributed to many other online and print publications, from Quail Unlimited to The New York Times Review of Books. The mother of a grown daughter, Donna got a college degree -- on full scholarship -- at age 52 (better late than really late) and was delighted to discover that midlife love rocks. She now lives and writes the frugal life in Anchorage, Alaska. In her free time she enjoys reading, doing crossword puzzles, making atrocious puns, growing and preserving food, and monitoring her playground for words (DonnaFreedman.com). She also makes a mean snow angel. View all articles by .

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Sonya Ann

Great post!
It just takes time and that’s the problem with digging yourself out of debt. It doesn’t take long to be spiraling out of control with debt but it will take years to get out. Doesn’t seem fair really.
My turning point was when I heard someone ask, “where will you be in 5 years financially?” That scared me because I knew I would probably be worse off. I decided to really cut back after that.
This is a wonderful post and I feel invigorated to go over my bills and see if there is anything more that I can tweak to save more money.

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avatar William Cowie

Great post – especially as we head into the next recession. Really? Yep, just do the math: every downturn for the past several decades has happened 5-8 years after the preceding downturn. Five years from 2009 (our last bottom) is when? Kinda creeps up on you, doesn’t it?

In tight economic times, you can slash all your expenses… except those payments. It may be a sacrifice to get rid of them now, but the alternative is taking care of them when it’s a lot tougher.

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avatar Mel @ brokeGIRLrich

I am sending this article to my mom. She keeps talking about setting up a debt management plan and then not doing anything about it. The recession kind of beat the crud out of my parents and credit cards kept them afloat for awhile. Hopefully she actually takes the advice and starts getting things back under control.

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avatar Donna Freedman ♦80 (Newbie)

Oh, I hope she does…Debt accrues. We can’t wish it away. Good luck to your parents.

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avatar Sher@fatguyskinnywallet

A zero percent interest card can be an extremely helpful tool in debt repayment. The amount one is able to save, when compared to paying the interest on the original account, makes it worth it for the committed person. I love the fact that it took her 13 years, because a lot of times I want to give up because things aren’t quick, or in the foreseeable future. I want to be faithful to the ultimate goal of being debt-free, keeping in mind that “slow and steady wins the race”.

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avatar Will Murphey

Nice offer for those that need to pay off debt. The fact that this card offers a no balance transfer fee within 60 days makes it a winner.

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avatar Jeannie Thomas

I like Mary Hunt’s attitude; get on the warpath with a military style approach to reducing and ending debt. Successful people address both sides of the ‘debt challenge coin’ with equal vigor; namely Budgeting and Consolidation. Exploring consolidation, with the goal to reduce the cost burden of the debt is as important as performing a wholescale review of your budget. Balance transfer card offers (such as Slate) can be a very useful consolidation tool for those that have discipline and have resolved to follow a clear plan of action for repayment. Great motivation.

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avatar Donna Freedman ♦80 (Newbie)

I’ve always shared that “debt is an emergency, get it out of your life” mentality. That’s the way I was raised: Work hard, pay your bills and never owe anybody anything. It always amazes me how CALM people can be even though they have tens of thousands of credit card debt. Maybe the right word is “cavalier.”
Hunt notes in her book that if she’d known then what she knows now, it wouldn’t have taken 13 years to pay off debt. Live and learn, right?

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avatar Ivan Widjaya

This is nice. Most people need this program so that they can handle their debt effectively. It is hard to get out of debt. But once you do, you’ll find that you have more money to spend on things that matters to you.

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