Huge and Embarrassing Debt: The ‘I Can’ts’

Tracey's huge and embarrassing as holidays approach

My mantra for the past four month sounds like I bought it at the Negativity Store: I can’t buy anything. I have to get my act together. I should not have let myself get into this Huge and Embarrassing Debt!

If you have been following me tackle my Huge and Embarrassing Debt you know that I had two goals set to reach by now. 1) pay off one credit car and 2) get a certain sum in my savings account.

Well, I can successfully say I did pay off one credit card and closed that account, but my savings goal isn’t even close.

Plus, I have continued to nickel and dime myself all along the way, still taking small credit card cash advances to cover days between paydays and using one credit card.

A big part of my strategy was to bring in the embarrassing element. That worked. Offering to work with USAA and SpouseBuzz got me to come forward and start this process. (See what USAA’s Scott Halliwell ideas for Tracey here Digging Out of Debt 3: The Honeymoon is Over)

But after some real in the dark moments when I was true to myself, the “embarrassing” part of my strategy was not enough.

I was already embarrassed to have $85,000 in debt! Who wouldn’t be? I have heard my fair share of Shame on you!

This month I realized that the motivation that came with facing my debt in public only got me started. What was I going to do to make lasting change?

I learned through my mentors that I learned I needed to start changing my language instead of seeing this process as a struggle with the things I cannot have and the things I have to do. I will now listen for all my negative talk around this subject:  I can’t.  I have to.  I should never …

Now I choose to get excited about the possibilities. I want to grow my savings more than grow my wardrobe. (I need to say this one out loud a lot). I want to reduce my credit card debt rather than reduce my happiness.  I want to provide a stable financial future for my family not provide toys and gifts. 

This is my Huge and Embarrassing Debt but I am responsible for this change. I receive fantastic support and guidance and I refuse to waste this opportunity but the work is on me. I want to do the work, I am excited about the future and I am giving up nothing, I am gaining the power and control to pay off this debt and free myself.

Stay with me on the ride. The last four months have been a true roller coaster, but the best part about a roller coaster is when it is over.

I did not want to admit to myself this would in fact take years! But today I am surrendering to this long process.  Maybe I should get that on a t-shirt!

About the Author

Tracey’s Huge and Embarrassing Debt is a new series starting on SpouseBuzz. Tracey is a military wife who attended one of our live Spouse Experience events and was inspired to make a life change. As she and her family work with USAA’s Scott Halliwell and JJ Montannaro, they will all be blogging about how military families really can get out of debt — one tiny change at a time.

8 Comments on "Huge and Embarrassing Debt: The ‘I Can’ts’"

  1. Cut up the dang credit cards!!! Holding onto them is your crutch! When you don't have them you don't bridge "gaps" with them, when you are out of money you are out of money, it really makes you think hmmm do I want those new jeans…oooor do I want to be able to feed the kids next week? We eliminated over 100k in debt (94 of it was student loans) in three years by working our tails off, I had three jobs, my husband volunteered for a deployment. It is FULLY possible to get rid of this debt, you just have to actually WANT to do it, and want it badly enough to sacrifice things for it.

  2. the first mel | October 3, 2013 at 9:55 am |

    Great article. I sometimes run into this self-defeating attitude where I volunteer. When someone comes in for a budget because they are struggling financially and feel like their situation is hopeless I look them in the eye and tell them that they can do it. That person sitting across from me needs to hear that they can reach the light at the end of the tunnel. I do convey that it will take work on their part, it will suck for a while, and each small success will begin to make that journey easier.
    A shift in attitude can make the difference between success and failure when trying to achieve a goal. I'm glad you have done that and you are now even closer to achieving your goal.

  3. One of the best things my husband did while serving active duty was the TSP program. The entire time he was in, they would take out 10% out of his paycheck, put it towards small cap government stock, and it would just grow.

    Although it seems impossible to take that huge chunk out, the one thing that helped us to grow our savings was to treat it like a bill. We would owe ourselves a certain amount and put it into an account.

    When we got out and needed that money, it served its purpose and more! We were able to live without shooting ourselves in the foot! Now that we’re comfortable again, we put a huge chunk into our savings thinking we might use it again like we have in the past!

    Good luck getting rid of your debt!

  4. Great article and I am proud to call you a fellow milspouse :). I am currently struggling with a smaller amount of debt but still embarrassing and I could really benefit from a shift in attitude. AND I'm a shopper! So I have been feeling very negative and deprived because I'm trying to pay off my credit cards and help save for a house downpayment so no shopping. I just started the Envelope System on and it has really helped curb my spending. Good luck and God Bless! You can do it!!

  5. One of the essential elements of paying off debt & saving money… and keeping it… is the 'time' factor. This is one of the 'make it work for you' portions of the savings and retirement plan.
    If you do NOT get 'time' working for you… then you will spend ALL of your time working!
    There are always the rare exceptions but they are just that, both 'rare' and absolutely an 'exception.'
    Do NOT rely on anything that's 'quick fix' or anything self-defeating.
    This tactic of making it an embarrassment may seem as a lark of incentive, but make sure it is all part of a trusting support resource, and not something that will add more stress to your challenging lifestyle.
    It's not elusive or magical. It's more about proven techniques to develop skills of using time, money, debt payment & savings, along with a retirement plan.
    Nor is it simple or 'no-brainer.' It's a challenge, and the rewards do come… but only with careful planning & effort.
    The important aspect is that you're on your way to creating and achieving more with your life!

  6. This is great stuff, Tracey. You're a brave woman. You're sharing what most of us want to keep hidden. I've noticed lots of advice, some really good, but always remember to do what's right for you & your family to meet your goals. The hubby and I did Dave Ramsey when we were dating which was great & definitely helped, but there islways more than one way to skin the cat. We've since changed our methods, and we're just fine and still in the same position.

    It's easy to beat yourself up- especially with all of us critics! Keep up the great work. Change is hard, takes time & frankly, it sucks. Good on ya, girl. Proud to be in the military spouse crowd with you.

  7. Good job on decreasing your debt, but I hope you didn't actually close the account! Wouldn't it have been better for your credit to just cut up the credit card and leave the account open?

  8. "Tracey" Hi, what an amazing story and how brave you and your family are for taking action in defeating the "Debt Monster" As you well know this is a battle, however thousands have become victorious in winning this battle and are flourishing. We would like to share our story, not to brag or boast, but to Motivate, Encourage and Inspire your family as you take this Debt Free Journey. We are a blended military family with 14 children and when we were married I (husband) was a SSG in the Army, and I had all of the debt with three children. My wife was debt free with nine children. We added two more while on the Debt Free Journey. We came up with a ridiculous plan to be debt free in 24 months. She home schooled 5 of the children during the day and worked at Wal Mart 11pm to 7am. We worked hard, stuck to our Zero Based Budget, telling every dollar where to go and were able to eliminate over $25,5000 worth of debt in 22 months. It was very hard and very rewarding once we reached our goal. To this day we are completely debt free! Your family can do this, tell your money where to go, before the month begins, instead of wondering where it went. We encourage you to take on the following 90 Day Challenge: Do not go into Debt for the next 90 days / Payoff as much Debt as possible / Save as much as you can ($1000 emergency fund) use cash for 90 days (cut up the credit cards and minimize your debit card use) it worked for us and hundreds of others over the past 10 years and it will work for you. Give it a shot, and see what happens. Good luck and God bless, YOU CAN DO THIS!!

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