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Financial Checkup: Why Julia Can’t Get Ahead on $35,000 a Year

About once a month, I answer one reader’s financial questions and give them a public financial checkup. If you want to be considered for a future checkup and are willing to share your finances with me, learn more here.

Julia is a single, 26-year old account coordinator for an ad agency living in a suburb of Washington, D.C. Here’s her situation:

I have $8,000 in credit card debt that I’ve been burdened by for almost eight years. I can’t seem to get rid of it. I only make $35,000 from my day job and am always doing odd jobs (house sitting, pet sitting, selling stuff, tutoring) to make extra money but it all ends up going towards necessities like food and gas.

I try to stick to a pretty strict budget of less than $25 a week for groceries and don’t allow myself to go out and have fun very much. There always seem to be extra expenses that I don’t plan for that take up all or most of my extra income. I am not saving as much as I would like nor am I contributing as much as I would like to retirement (currently 8%). I would love to…get rid of this debt so I can move on with my life and enjoy the rest of my twenties in financial peace.

I’ll bet you can relate to Julia if you:

  • Are not earning a ton
  • Have some debt, but it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal
  • Are not making progress with your money

So before we go anywhere, let’s point out that Julia’s had that credit card debt for eight years! And whether she realizes it or not, here’s why:

The balance [on my Chase card] is about $5,000 with a minimum monthly payment of $100. I ALWAYS pay more than that but then it seems to creep back up and stay around $5,000; maybe because I get overzealous and pay too much and then have not enough cash left over to buy necessities.

Bingo. I used to do this for years. When it comes time to make that credit card payment, you think “I’m gonna be good and pay $200 extra.” But then something comes up (it always does) and you want to spend $200 later in the month, so you charge it back to the card. This is what credit card companies hope for, and it’s what keeps them making profits and what keeps you in debt.

Before we jump into some potential solutions for Julia, let’s take a look at the rest of her finances.


Here’s a breakdown of Julias’ income, expenses, assets, and debts: 

Julia's Income and Expenses

*In her take-home income, I’ve included the $250-300 she makes on top of her day job. For simplicity, I haven’t asked Julia for a detailed breakdown of “other expenses”. But based upon what she’s told me, she’s spending most of (if not a bit more than) her remaining income each month.

Julia’s Net Worth

Julia's Net Worth


  • With only $300 in the bank, Julia’s living paycheck to paycheck. If any big expenses come up, she’ll need to use a credit card to bail herself out. And if she lost her job, she’d really be in trouble.
  • The credit card debt has to go.
  • In the plus column, Julia doesn’t have any student loan debt and she has started contributing 8% of her salary to her 401(k) at work.
  • It’s also great she’s earning extra money, but still Julia’s debt isn’t going anywhere which means she’s spending it as she earns it.


I think Julia needs to tackle her finances one thing at a time. Julia’s margins are thin. This is going to be about little wins every couple of months that over time will add up.

When I asked her about her financial goals, Julia listed many:

  • Increase 401(k)/Roth contributions.
  • Pay off debt (mostly just credit card).
  • Have a fun fund (for vacations, nice clothes, toys etc.)
  • Have an emergency fund (in case I end up with no job or something terrible happens).
  • Buy a house/condo by the time I’m 30 (27 now) or at the very least be renting a place on my own.

I’m going to recommend she reprioritize that list and then focus on one thing at a time.

1. First, get a cash buffer. I think Julia should increase the amount of cash she has on hand so when life’s small emergencies come up, she doesn’t have to turn to credit. So I’d like to see her start a savings account if she doesn’t already have one and put about $800 in there. I would even stop paying extra on the credit cards for a couple months until this is done.

2. Attack the credit card debt. The next step (or a simultaneous one), is to pay off the credit card debt. I’m going to recommend Julia put off all other goals, like increasing retirement contributions or other saving, until the credit card debt is gone.

Given the credit card market right now, she may be able to save some money by transferring balances (at least the Nordstrom card at 18.9% APR) to a card with 0% APR for 12 months or more. Assuming Julia’s credit is good, I would encourage her to apply for a card and transfer as much of her balances as she can—starting with that store card. She’ll pay a fee to do the transfer, but given how long it will take her to pay off the balances the fee is worth it.

Now, assuming at least a partial balance transfer was successful, two rules:

  • DO NOT use the new credit card—it’s just for the balance transfer.
  • CUT UP the other old credit cards.

This Is Important!

Given that Julia’s credit card debt has been around for eight years, this might be time to ditch the credit cards altogether in favor of a debit card until the debt is gone.

But Julia, if want to keep using your Chase card for everyday purchases, here’s a new rule for you: Your monthly payment should be at least the total of the new charges you put on the card plus the minimum payment. This will get you in the habit of paying for your monthly charges in full while still whittling away at your debt.

If you don’t transfer any of the balances, that’s fine. Here’s what we’re going to do:

  1. Put everything you can to paying off the Nordstrom card. Make it a goal to see how fast you can do it. If you do some odd jobs, maybe even sell some stuff, can you pay it off in three months ($500 x 3)?
  2. Next, tackle the $1,100 balance.
  3. Once you’ve knocked off those two, go after the biggest balance. It’ll take time, but it’s worth it.

3. Make a plan to earn more. Julia’s already doing a good job of supplementing her income with odd jobs, but even with this extra cash she’s still coming up short. She needs to get out of this credit card debt and save more for the future, but I get the sense she doesn’t want to take a vow of poverty for two years to do it.

So in addition to getting out of debt her long term goal should be to stabilize her expenses and earn more money so that the extra income can go to saving.

Money Making Ideas

In our email exchanges she hints at lots of ideas for earning more, both freelance and in her career. She says:

I earn between $250 and $300/month being a personal assistant for a VP of a large, well-known company. (This amounts to about 5-10 hours of work per month which I think is AWESOME).

This is very cool, my question would be…can you do more of it? Can you expand your services and charge more? Are there things you do really well. Specific things? Can you offer these to new clients. VPs of large companies will pay big bucks for stuff they don’t want to/have time to do.

Occasionally I babysit and charge $15-20/hour but this is sporadic and I don’t count on the income.

A nice income booster but as you said, sporadic, and you’re never going to earn much more than that per hour. I’d take it when convenient but focus on other opportunities.

I have a tutoring gig for the summer which is $20/hour but only one hour per week.

This one is better. Can you advertise and take on new clients? If you specialize in tutoring for one particular subject/test, etc., I’ll bet you could charge them more, too…even double that rate.

I’ve been spending time teaching myself design programs in the hopes to get freelance design work or maybe eventually start a blog (no idea what it should be about yet though…TOO many ideas to nail down).

Beware there are lots and lots and lots of hungry designers with MFAs and big portfolios and lots and lots and lots of bloggers. If either is your passion, charge ahead, but be careful if you’re thinking you’ll teach yourself Photoshop and overnight end up with $100s of dollars of freelance work.

Career Ideas

As for Julia’s day job, she hints in her emails that she doesn’t hate her job but doesn’t sound confident about long-term growth or stability. She says that based upon friends’ salaries, she thinks she could be making significantly more. She’s applied to some jobs in the past couple of months but finds it hard to keep the momentum of job searching up with everything else going on.

We could write another post about career planning, but to keep it short I think you’d described that it’s time to start looking for the job you really want (and hopefully it’ll pay more). You’ve got something a lot of people would kill for these days—a job in your field that pays the bills—but you know you’re capable of more. This first step is to define what you want, then make a plan to go after it. This means making lists of companies you’d like to work for and setting up lunches with people you know who work there. If you chip away at it, the right job may come around when you least expect it.


Here’s how I think Julia’s situation stacks up, right now.

Julia's Financial Report Card

Julia may find this assessment harsh, but the reality is Julia is an illness or lost job away from financial disaster. The good news is it won’t take much to improve this picture. The keys for Julia are to:

  • Get some more cash saved so a small emergency doesn’t ruin you.
  • Get rid of the credit card debt.
  • Focus on ways to stabilize expenses and increase your income so over time you can put more and more to debt repayment and saving.

On the plus side, Julia’s housing costs are controlled (the upside to roommates), she has an idea of where she wants to go, and she’s working on getting there. I think the biggest thing she can do is to focus her efforts on knocking down one goal at a time.

What do you think? What advice would you give Julia? Share your thoughts in a comment.


Published or updated on September 26, 2011

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and will be published according to our comment policy. Comments are the opinions of their authors; they do not represent the views or opinions of Money Under 30.

  1. Jenna says:

    Dear Julia,

    Learn to eat as cheap as you can for the next two months think very cheap foods and do one day a week in the kitchen to prep and keep you foods cheap. Cut electric as low as you can go even if it means sitting by candles two nights per week. Do this for awhile until you can get some of the debt paid off. Use old tshirts if you have to and throw them away (see cloth toilet paper)
    Whatever you have to do to get by for a few months to put some cash away for rainy day and fun, and pay some towards debt. Also hold off on retirement payments for a little while too.

  2. xtine says:

    For anyone who is trying to dig themselves out of debt, please don’t underestimate the value of leaving your credit and debit cards at home. I’m just learning to exercise self-discipline with my finances and have dodged many bullets by not having a card around to make an impulsive purchase. Also, try to keep track of where your money is going! Mint.com really made it crystal clear that I used to spend most of my hard-earned cash buying frivolous stuff just to get cash back from drugstores or grocery stores. Now, I’m smarter about when I get cash and where I get it from. Also, I cut my phone bill in half by switching to a prepaid plan (T-Mobile Monthly 4g). In 6 months, I’ll recoup the money lost by paying an early termination fee. Tiny adjustments can make big differences as you try to get your finances under control. Good luck, Julia!

  3. Julia says:

    Thanks everyone for the comments! I think the “other” column is a little over exxaggerated here. I think at one point I might’ve been calculating my credit card payments and car payment into that category so it’s really more like 600 per month (usually). This includes cell phone, car insurance, gas, groceries, gym membership, medical expenses and some other random bills that come up like taxes, auto expenses etc. For those of you who are confused about how I get by on $25 per week for groceries, I am an avid couponer and follow blogs like The Krazy Coupon Lady and Southern Savers on where to get deals on cheap and free groceries. I know to many people it seems like this “other” category is an easy way to slash expenses but it’s really about as low as i can go. It doesn’t make sense for me to sell my car for an older one to just pay more money in repair bills. Additionally, I have the cheapest car insurance I could find and I refuse to get rid of my gym membership because when it comes down to it, going to the gym is a cheap way to stay entertained and takes time away from other more expensive things i could be doing like going out to eat or shopping. I ride my bike to work when I can and buy cheap gas as much as possible. My cell phone is a tad bit higher than I’d like but I only think I could get it lowered by about $20 or $30 a month. Since David’s advice, I’ve begun paying my minimum payments only and have put about $500 in my emergency fund. I am feeling good about digging out of the hole and welcome any other comments others might have.

  4. Kylie says:

    I know we haven’t seen Julia’s “other expenses” but her other expenses amount is almost exactly what mine is (when I’m not going over budget). I’m going to take a guess here at those extra expenses. Julia doesn’t go out much but how does she eat lunch at work? $25 a week of groceries can definitely get you buy on breakfast and dinner buying frugal. But I don’t think lunch is factored into that. I know that one of my BIGGEST spending issues. Being a coordinator myself, I’m the low man on the totem pole in my office. For over a year and a half I was sucked into the whole “group lunch” deal where you get lunch together. As the others make twice as much as you do, they can spend $10-15 on lunch. They also can do thing like “split the bill” and go out to eat. I’ve recently decided to start bringing my lunch every single day. Just a simple sandwich and some fruit. If Julia is worried about not participating in the lunches, she can just use the excuse I use of “trying to eat healthy.” I’ve literally saved $200 from this.

    As a woman, I might also guess that Julia’s other expenses go towards toiletries as well. Sometimes we forget that Olay is great…but Olay is expensive. I love Clinique. But that’s a budget killer. Either cut it out or do like I do and find ways to stretch it out a lot further. Some of those products can last you up to a year if you use them judiciously. You have to be careful of those miscellaneous expenses as well.

    I budget with my “other expenses” but I don’t restrict myself much because I am still able to save, have my 6 months of living expenses, and contribute to my 401k. So the fact that our other expenses are virtually the same means she’s really not budgeting there to free up money as she should.

    As far as the career goes, since she’s 26 and a coordinator, I’m going to guess she’s been in the role 2-3 years at least. I’ve been in my coordinator role for a year and a half. After I hit a year, I got really serious about pushing my career in the direction that I want. When you feel like you’re underpaid and ready to move onto the next step, the best way to do this is to start taking on my projects at work. Ask your boss for more responsibilities. Step up and take on more even if that means you have to work more hours. And if you have the ability to get overtime, these benefits you in two ways – expanding your career while making more money. The more projects you take on, the more you can move those projects into being full time responsibilities. When you get those responsibilities full time, that’s when you can ask for a title change. A title change means more money.

  5. Jessica P says:

    In terms of earning extra income, there are a lot of interesting ways to do this. Julia should really spend some time and energy narrowing down a couple of ways and then going after them full force in her spare time. She can be a virtual assitant online or utilize peer to peer sites to her advantage. Here’s an exhaustive list: http://www.collaborativeconsumption.com/the-movement/snapshot-of-examples.php

    Also, understanding all her debt in one place and making a plan to get out of it would be really beneficial to her as well. Check out readyforzero.com, it’s a great free tool that I personally use to manage my debt and understanding how long it’ll take me to get out of it at the current rate that I’m able to pay. It’s easy to modify and adapt the plan ..much easier than it would be in excel spreadsheets for sure. It might really help you out Julia!

  6. In my 20s I had $30,000 of debt that I carried around for 8 years…then I paid it down in only 18 months. I actually did it by shelving the debt altogether and just focusing on building up my cash reserves. I paid a little over the minimums every month until I saved enough cash to pay everything off plus have money still left over. I know this might sound weird to some because I paid more money in interest doing it this way, but money is a really emotional thing. And I felt “broke” for so many years and that just kept me in debt. Once I saw my bank account growing it was a huge mental shift where I finally felt rich. So my bank account grew more and more until finally I had enough to pay off all my debt in record time. Unconventional yes…but it worked.

    • Mom Equity says:

      That’s awesome! It’s less about those pieces of interest than motivation generally speaking, and if you found your inspiration who cares about a few dollars in interest?

  7. I was wondering about that $1141 in Other too…

  8. Goner says:

    About that $1141 a month “other”…

    What’s in there?

    Could it be: $100 cell phone bill… $125 cable TV… $150 for coffee?

    Any fat you could trim there?

  9. Mom Equity says:

    35k a year is good money if you don’t do much and don’t have debt. And I have no idea how she is only spending $25 per week on groceries. Did this seem odd to anyone else? A box of cereal, a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, peanut butter, jelly, some ramen noodles and some fruit and veggies would add up to more than that and you still couldn’t live. It could be that a lot of that 1k misc. is going towards eating out, in which case I would rather spend $75 per week on groceries.

    Other than that the suggestions are great! Julia should definitely be able to get out of this if she cuts back a little. If she’s not upside down on the car I really might get rid of that.

  10. butterfly says:

    I have a little bit over $2000 credit card debt and I make nowhere near that type of money and I have a college degree and experience. I’ve interviewed for full-time jobs that don’t even pay 23k per year after. I made less than $10k last year. NYC is ridiculous because employers know there’s so many people there that they can take advantage of. Anyway, I have 7 hour a week work study job and another 7 hour a week recruiting job that won’t put a dent in my student loan debt and credit card debt (I have two cards). I know I should get rid of one but it’s easy for me. $35000/year is great money, Julia just has to prioritize.

  11. C says:

    This happened to me after college. I ended up getting a roommate situation close enough to walk to work, and all I did was work, or sleep. It was a tougher time but good for me. It took me I think a whole summer to pay off $3000 in debt, but I was at least back to square one. And, never again, to many other bills and I don’t care about frequent flyer miles, I don’t like flying, although my last flight was a 5 hour to Alaska, it was worth it. If you buy your tickets in advance you get a better deal. But yes, you need a credit card to buy almost anything these days, kind of a drag.
    Definitely defer your retirement and pay off your cards. However, if you just plan on running them up again then don’t steal your retirement money like that. Take out another loan at a cheaper interest rate, pay it off, and stop using the card. Otherwise just leave it at $5000 and keep giving your money to the wile bankers.

  12. Hannah says:

    Stop the 401a contributions, for now.
    Roll high rate interest cards into a 0% transfer credit card, they have 16-18 month offers right now.
    Pay minimum on the credit card and build a $1000 emergency fund.

    Once you build the emergency fund, attack the transfer credit card and watch the credit card balance go down!

  13. The Oil Barron in Training says:

    I agree with Chance on cutting back on the 401(k) contributions. You have to look at the numbers in a cost/benefit way. Julia’s credit card debt is in the 13 – 19% interest range. She is living paycheck to paycheck, and is one crisis away from bankruptcy. The 8% she is contributing to her 401(k), even assuming a dollar for dollar match, would be better served in a liquid emergency fund and for paying down her debt. She is too close to the brink of financial doom. Given that 8% of her monthly income only amounts to $230 dollars, she is not exactly giving up thousands of dollars in her 401(k).

    I it were me, I would stop paying into the 401(k) for now and only make minimum payments on the credit cards. Put any extra money into an emergency fund until you put away 6 months of expenses (about $13k). The emergency fund is a priority; there is no reason to be paying extra to the credit card company while you are on the edge of bankruptcy. Once that is done, start paying down the debt with the highest interest rate first. Also, start contributing to your 401(k) agian only up to the compay match.

    Now for the harsh truth: This is not going to be fun, it is going to take sacrifice and several years to remedy. There is no way you are going to be able to afford a house in the next 3 years at this pace. You will be lucky to even be out of debt by then. You really need to cut back on the $1000+ miscillaneous expenses by at least half. You might even sell some big stuff or even you car and either pickup a scooter or take public transportation. The more extreme you cut back now, the shorter the pain.

    You also really need to focus on getting a new job with a higher salary. $35k is not much to live on (only about $13k from poverty level), especially in D.C. You might even consider moving to a new city with much lower living expenses and better job prospects.

    Whatever you decide, I wish you the best of luck and I hope you take this collective advice to heart. In the word of Rob Schneider “You can do it!”

    • Stu says:

      While a 6 month emergency fund would be nice and is a good goal, that $13k you state would more than cover all of her credit card debt. I would follow David’s recommendation of ~$800 (or 1-2 month emergency fund) and then funnel all extra cash towards the debt with the highest interest rate first. Cutting back on the 401(k) contributions will help. Even if you had a 10% return on your 401(k), you are paying 13-19% on the credit cards! Once the credit cards are paid off, you can add the “minimum payments” to your 401(k) to play catch up.

      Summary: Follow David’s advice. Cut back some on 401(k) and use that money to pay off debt. Once the 18.9% debt is paid off, roll ALL of those payments into the next debt.

      Keep the faith. It is a hard and long road to follow, but you can do it.

  14. Tommy says:

    David, I think that your advice is spot-on. Good luck, Julia! Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  15. Emily says:

    She might give the book “The Wealthy Freelancer” a read. If at all possible, if I were in her shoes I would try to get a job where the standard of living was a bit lower.

  16. Thanks for tackling this reader’s money problems. Love all the suggestions. Would definitely encourage her to aggressively tackle that credit card debt.

  17. Megan says:

    I am in a similar situation to Julia. We actually have the same job title and make around the same income, though I hail from a few hundred miles away in Milwaukee. I am lucky enough to not have any student loans or any credit card debt, but I completely relate to the feeling of not being able to save enough. I plan on using this plan in my own fashion to make sure I’m on the right track to financial health. Looking at the report card, I would get an F in housing. I got into a housing situation with a roommate that makes a significant amount more than I do. We work together to split costs, but I’m slowly entering a mental place of panic to make sure I’m controlling my extra costs (I have a weakness for clothes and eating out). This post was a good wake up call for me. I, too, am planning out my future career/passions/home-buying-ventures, and I wish her all the best of luck in straightening out her finances. It will feel so good to one day not feel like we’re barely treading water!

  18. Michelle says:

    Being a 20 something person that lives in DC, I am super impressed by Julia’s ability to find a decent place to live for $650. I would give her an A for housing. I know it is ideal to pay a little bit less, but there are very few options that would allow her to pay less and not drive for several hours a day. The longer commute will cut the amount of odd jobs she could do and probably cost even more in gas and other auto services.

    Also, given the market and the information above, I think it will be very difficult for Julia to find an affordable place to buy in the next three years. But she should definitely look into the programs available in DC/VA/MD. Since the median income is high in this area she will be able to qualify for some great programs.

    • Colin says:

      $650 with roommates though…not sure if it’s roommate or roommates and it’s not stated in the article.

      I’m in Milwaukee and $650 has me a decent apartment, by myself, in what the coasties refer to as “fly-over country”.

      Either way, not suprising, cost of living is very different on the east & west coast than it is in the Midwest. I’m quite happy to have my own apartment to myself for what she’s paying to live with a roommate(s).

      • Brendan Sheehy says:

        $650 with roomates in the DC area is FANTASTIC…1 bedroom apartments start around $1400/month in safe/fun areas, 2 bedrooms around $1600. Anything less than $800 per person in a 2 bedroom apartmnet is a great deal.

      • AP says:

        Have to add my applause to the awesome rent around DC!! You absolutely cannot find anything cheaper than that here and still have it “safe” and livable.

        I agree with some earlier posters though, 8% for retirement is too much for your budget right now. The other suggestion is to look seriously at dumping your car. Can you take the metrobus/rail or slug in to work? I get the sense you are not right downtown since you are using your car a lot. Can you share car expenses and rides with a roommate or neighbor? Think creatively about how you get around or think about moving to a place where you aren’t so car-dependent. In this area, it is very easy to do.

        Put your plan to buy any kind of house/condo on the way far back burner. You are not ready yet but someday you will be.

  19. Chance says:

    Many people don’t like this stance, but I would cut retirement completely off (or 1% if you don’t want to go through the hassle of getting out of the 401(k) and back in later). This will free up MORE cash each month to throw at getting out of debt. If you’re serious about improving the situation, it won’t take you all that long to get out of debt, and in the grand scheme of things you won’t miss out THAT much is earnings on your retirement.

    I like your idea of focusing on one thing at a time. The above suggestion is the only thing I would change…and Julia, seriously, get rid of the cards. Or, at least DO NOT carry them with you…EVER. Keep ONE card, and kill the rest. Store the one remaining card at home in a fire box if it makes you feel more ‘secure’ having it around for emergencies. But, you shouldn’t need it if you take the suggestion and create an emergency fund.

    Best of luck! I’ve been where you are…and fortunately am not there any longer. You can do it!

    • Colin says:

      It’s great she’s putting 8% away but if her company only matches 4-6%, I say Julia should reduce her percentage to the point of her match (if she has one).

      I don’t fully agree with Chance on cutting retirement savings off completely, but if the money that otherwise goes towards savings goes to paying off the credit cards and building up a cash reserve, then I agree.

      I hate to say it, but her goal of buying a house/condo by 30 don’t seem very realistic. With her rent at her price, she’s keeping her head just above water, and that rent is maintained by having roommates, but what would those costs look like to even just rent on her own?

      And with the last person, over $1,000 in other expenses? I know David didn’t ask her to go down to the minute details of what makes up that $1,141 in other expenses but that seems pretty high to me. With a budget of $25/wk budget for groceries, what is the remaining $1,041 on? Tackle your phone and cable plan if possible, search your living conditions for energy vampires (though I presume the utilities is split with roommates and roommates not appreciate her unplugging their things). Even with that, I would presume the cable is split with roommates so I’m really concerned about how high her “other” expenses are. Look for savings there, try to cut a quarter to half of that off.

      • Chance says:

        When I suggested stopping retirement, I meant that money (and any other money she could scrape up) would go directly to paying off debt. It wouldn’t be forever. I’d even forgo the match until the debt is paid off. Every little bit helps when paying off debt. Everything NOT thrown at debt cause the wheels to spin even longer. I wouldn’t feel strongly about this unless I had tried it both ways…

        I agree with your assessment on “other expenses”. There is almost AWAYS places to cut expenses, especially when you have someone looking at them from the outside/in approach.

    • Chase says:

      I agree with these comments and the suggestions in the article. A larger income would sure help, but if you’re doing what you love or at least working toward that, that’s sometimes more important. Also, with the additional jobs, there’s not much else you can ask for besides better paying additional jobs.

      I would agree with Chance that reducing your retirement contributions would be the first step. It will give you a little boost to your take-home pay to put toward your debts. It will also give you some motivation to get the debts paid off faster, which might also mean scrimping and saving in the “other” category. Once the 3 credit cards are paid off, you might consider raising the contributions back up, but then again, you might be on a roll and just want to pay off the car at that point.

      Another option would be to sell the car and buy something cheaper (like $2000-3000 range). It might not be an awesome car, but it can at least get you to and from work and when you turn around and sell it in a few years, it’ll probably still be worth the $2000-$3000 that you put into it.

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