Saturday, July 07, 2007

Day 1 of National Downshifting Week: Say NO to Debt

Saturday - Day 1of NDW US ~ What Have You Been Up To?

Cut Up a Credit Card...Say NO to debt!

In the US our savings rate slipped into the negative territory for the first time ever in 2005, and has grown to –1% today. One way to "say no to debt" is to consolidate and eliminate credit card debt.

I confess, I was not always "debt savvy." I graduated college with $3,000 of credit card debt (despite having a waitressing job during the last two years and every summer). Now, this doesn't seem like that much, but for a recent graduate with no job, making the minimum payments was about all I could muster. As anyone who has been in that situation knows, the interest rate quickly escalates and make the original debt miniscule compared with what the borrower pays over time.

Lucky for me, my mom bailed me out and set up an interest free payment plan. I learned my lesson, never missed a payment and have been debt-free (besides mortgage and car payments) ever since. Now I carry one credit card in my wallet and pay the balance in full every month. I cancelled all of my other cards (doesn't it seem like you get a free offer every week?) and don't buy something unless I can afford it. A big ticket item, like a new appliance or couch is SAVED FOR!

If I can't save enough to buy a new one, I can't afford a new one (how's that for the most logical argument you never hear anymore). I barter, sell, or trade my skills for what I need. Check out great websites like Freecycle (where I got all the free gear for my family's pet hamster), Craig's List (where I sold an old tricycle and got a secondhand two-wheeler), and a bartering site.

It's Day 2 tomorrow ~ what are you going to do, to 'slow down and green up'? Click here for a copy of our Downshifting Manifesto.

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