Category Archives: Debt

Should You Save for Retirement or Pay Down Credit Card Debt?

Back when I was knee-deep in credit card debt, saving for retirement was about the last thing on my list of priorities. It simply made no sense to me to put away money for the future when my debt was costing me so much in interest.

However, once I fully reviewed my situation, I understood that there may be room for both. It ultimately depends upon your situation, and in order to make the right decision, you’ll have to take a good hard look at both your retirement plans and your current credit card debt.


  • Have You Started Saving? If you currently have nothing put aside for your golden years, then I would suggest starting a modest retirement portfolio, regardless of  your level of credit card debt. Because of compound interest, the earlier you start, the more your dollars will earn over time.
  • Does Your Employer Match? It is important to review your employer’s 401k plan. If they offer any sort of match, consider investing in this option up to the maximum. This is free money provided to you by your employer, and it just makes good sense to take advantage of it, regardless of the amount of your credit card balances.

Credit Card Debt

  • How Bad Is It? If your current situation is dire, and interest fees are eating away at your checking account, you may want to scale back or temporarily suspend retirement savings. If your situation isn’t quite this bad, continue to pay down your balances while still contributing what you can to retirement.
  • Can It Be Restructured? If your credit card debt is significant, you may want to consider restructuring it. There are numerous balance transfer options where you can reduce your interest rate to 0% for a short period of time. Do your research to see if you can save, and if so, you’ll have to decide where to apply the money you’ve saved: to  your credit card balances, or to your retirement portfolio.
  • Do You Have a Plan? If you currently have no plan to pay down and eventually eliminate credit card debt, it’s time you put one into place. Keep your monthly spending beneath what you earn, and figure out other ways to save in your everyday life. Commit these savings to your credit card debts until they’re under control.

Final Thoughts

You should continue to both pay down your credit card debt and also save for retirement. Where you focus the bulk of your efforts will depend upon your situation. However, you won’t be able to make an intelligent decision unless you truly understand the state of each in your life. Ask yourself the three pertinent questions regarding both credit card debt and retirement, and you’ll gain a clearer understanding of each and be able to decide where you should be applying more money.

What do you think? Should you prioritize getting out of credit card debt or saving for retirement?

Debt Update: The End Of Summer

Hey all! It’s the last full month of summer and an overall good one for our finances. Once again, not much has changed (i.e. we didn’t win the lottery). However, we did have another record month for our family loan payment. We were able to drop a $1,500 bomb on it. It’s definitely not going to be that much next month but it feels awesome to pay that much off right now!

Also, I know I haven’t been posting frequently on here and it’s mostly due to a new project of mine. I am working on a new blog called Things To Learn. Basically, I write about things that interest me that I have a desire to learn more about. Have you ever had a random thought pop into your head that you didn’t know the answer to? Well, this new blog puts those thoughts on the web.

Now, I’m not saying this blog is kaput. It’s not. I just won’t blog that often. But when I do, I hope to knock it out of the park.

Here’s to getting out of debt!

Debt Update: $1,000 On The Family Loan

Another month come and gone. Is it just me or is time flying by this year?

Anyway, it was another typical month. Nothing too special. We did pay $1,000 on the family loan, our largest amount to date! We’re hoping it leads to a lot more in the future.

August should be a good month as we are getting an extra $1,000 from a summer job that my wife did plus about $500 in some stuff that we sold on eBay.

Spring Cleaning = Cash

I know what you are thinking, “This guy is crazy, spring is over!”  Well, spring cleaning can come late for some people, especially procrastinators like me (and possibly you). 🙂

When I talk about spring cleaning, I am specifically referring to selling some of the junk that you don’t use. As you are cleaning up around the house and digging in places that haven’t seen the light of day in over a year, you are bound to find some stuff to sell.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I decided to do a little spring cleaning ourselves. Needless to say, I was very surprised at the amount of stuff that I found that could net us some quick cash. Here is a quick list of some things I found (and forgot that I had) and how much they will net us:

  • Laptop computer – $200
  • Mac desktop computer – $100
  • Various textbooks – $200
  • Various software – $50

Doing that math, that adds up to over $500 that can be used towards our debt. Not too shabby for a days worth of cleaning!

So, now that you are soooo excited about cleaning and finding things to sell, how do you go about selling them? Well, here are a few options for getting rid of your junk and getting top dollar. is a great place to sell books, CD’s, software and more. I placed the textbooks and software on Amazon and sold the majority of it in a week. They get tons of traffic and people are always looking to get a great deal.

When I sell things on Amazon, I always list them for a lower price than anyone else in the same category (new, like new, good). For example, if I have a book that is like new and the lowest price in that category is $54.99, I will list mine for $49.99. I don’t really maximize my earnings but I can almost guarantee that it will sell FAST. That was my main motivation as I received the cash quicker and I got the junk out of the house faster.

The only thing that I don’t like about Amazon is the fact that they decide what to pay you for shipping. For example, if the buyer selects standard shipping, Amazon will reimburse you $3.99. That’s it. So, if you need to buy a bubble mailer and then ship the item across the country the cheapest way possible, you are more than likely going to spend in excess of $3.99.


eBay is a great place to sell larger more expensive items that can be shipped easily. I typically use them for smaller electronics (cameras, laptops, cell phones) and collectibles. I don’t really have any collectibles but some of you might. I will be putting the computer up for bid starting Friday. I’ve always had success selling on eBay and I typically yield better results than the average seller.

I’m not really going to tell you how to set up an eBay account, so here is a nice tutorial from eBay. Don’t be afraid to sell you items on the site as you can get GREAT results!


Craigslist is a site where individuals can list items for sale (just like the classifieds, except free) in a city near you. For example, I could list items for sale on a DC, Annapolis or Baltimore site. Having a local site makes it a great place to sell items that are just too large to ship. We have bought and sold several pieces of furniture on the site with great success. If you happen to find an old car during your spring cleaning, you can even sell that on Craigslist. 😉

The only word of caution that I have is to just be careful. Make sure you call about the product first and ask for directions. You want to make sure you are going to be in a nice neighborhood. It’s also a good idea to take someone with you to check out items. You can never be too cautious!

Yard/Garage Sale

We don’t have enough junk (or a yard) to have a yard/garage sale but I imagine many of you do. These would be a great place to sell the odds and ends that aren’t good enough to make the cut on the other websites that I listed. A list of things to sell could be clothes, dishes, small appliances, etc. They don’t fetch top dollar but you can at least get something out of them. The main purpose in selling these items should be to just get it out of your house. I would take almost any deal if it meant removing it from the mass clutter that is my apartment.

Frugal Dad has a great post on how to have a successful yard/garage sale. The only other thing that I would recommend would be to have it when everyone else in the community is having one. You will get a lot more traffic if you plan it around that schedule.

Donate It

For all of the leftover things, you can donate them to charity. I typically just go to the local Goodwill store and drop the stuff off.

I know, you can’t really get “cash” for donating goods. However, you can get a tax deduction if you itemize on your tax return. Just make sure you get something in writing from an individual who works there detailing what you donated. You will also want to make a spreadsheet showing the fair-market-value of each item you donate.

Once again, the main goal in this section should be to just get it out of the house. If it’s in too bad of shape for even Goodwill, it’s time to just throw it away.

* * *

I hope these tips help you get some quick cash to pay on debt!

Debt Update: Two Months Combined

Yeah, yeah. I know I’m a month behind. Doesn’t that make this more exciting though? 😀

Well, the last two months for us were full of financial surprises. We paid for a graduate class, had our tires replaced, blah, blah, blah. It seems to be getting a little old if you ask me. I just want things to go as planned!

Even with all of these “extra expenses” we are still able to pay all of our debts (at least the minimum). We just aren’t able to get that extra snowball going the way we would like. July is looking good but heck, it’s only the beginning of the month. What can I say, I’m not perfect.

This month I changed the graph up a little. You can now see what our actual payments are per month. They are listed as “Actual Payments”. The number below that one is the actual change in the balances for the month. By listing them that way, I can now see how much interest I am paying per month by subtracting the change from the actual payment amount. Let me tell you something, actually looking at how much interest I am paying makes me sick.

Here is a quick snapshot after the last two months:

Hopefully July will be much better!

Perfection Doesn’t Exist

Perfection is something that I thought could be obtained in some way. Actually, it almost caused me to quit writing this blog.

One of the reasons that I blogged so infrequently was because I was always trying to create the “perfect” blog post. Well, I’m here to tell you that perfection does not exist. It doesn’t exist in life, blogging and even finances.

“Once you accept the fact that you’re not perfect, then you develop some confidence.” ~ Rosalynn Carter

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to create the perfect blog post, have it quoted on various websites and have someone hand me a trophy (well, not really). You know what, that mentality caused me to not write at all! Pretty weird right? I wanted to be one of the best bloggers I could, yet I didn’t write. Makes a ton of sense! Seeking the unattainable caused me to not want to attain it.

Well, I am here to tell you that I am no longer seeking perfection. I won’t be seeking it with my writing or our finances. No more excuses. It’s just too stressful and unproductive. I’ve accepted the fact that I am not perfect and now I am going to build some confidence.

Enough about my life. So, how can you turn your finances around without seeking perfection?

Set Attainable Goals

If you have debt and finally come to the realization that it’s bad, you’re going to want to pay it all off in a hurry. Hell, when we first starting paying off our 150k, I was looking for the cure all medicine that could take care of the problem immediately. I wanted if gone, fast.

Unfortunately, you need to realize that there isn’t a magic debt elimination pill and it’s going to be a long and rough road. In order to make it easier, you need to set some attainable goals. Dave Ramsey tells you to list your debts from smallest to largest and then start working on the smallest of the bunch. That will allow you to reach certain financial victories much faster and it will give you some much needed confidence.

Reward Yourself Every Now and Then

When you do something awesome, reward yourself. I’m not talking about taking a trip to Hawaii here, but go out to eat with your spouse or catch a movie. My wife and I do this frequently due to the fact that we have so much debt. If we just sat on our asses all day every day watching our debt slowly go down, we would go insane. Sometimes you just need that interaction that getting out of the house does for you.

Another great tip would be to visualize the reward. If you have a special treat in mind, print out a picture and hang it on your fridge. Seeing it everyday will cause you to go that extra mile to save a few bucks here and there.

Follow People Just Like You

If I had to guess, I would say that most of you have some debt. It’s probably not 150k like us, but it feels like a lot nonetheless. Subscribing to blogs, going to Financial Peace classes and commenting on websites are great ways to get an extra boost in you financial plan. If you just sit on your butt and do nothing, you are doomed and won’t make any progress.

You’re doing the right thing subscribing to this blog. I hope that what my wife and I do financially helps you get through your troubles. Our ability to pay off debt should give you a ton of encouragement in your financial life. Just stick with it and you will see amazing results!