Rules To Live By

I suppose I should set up some rules, guidelines and goals for this debt-pay-down project. Let’s start with goals, shall we?


I need to pay down $22,779.92 in credit card debt. I would love to do this in two years or less, but I will settle on a two year goal, beginning on January 1st, 2009 (to keep it simple). On a positive note, we’ve apparently been in a recession for a year that will likely last well through 2011. So, I won’t be alone in my lack of spending.

I would like to be very careful about NOT accumulating any additional debt. If this means I can only make a minimum payment one month, so be it. NO ADDITIONAL DEBT.

I have found in the past that depriving myself entirely will not work, much like it never works when someone tries to diet and never allows themselves a donut. After tracking my expenses, I would like to land on a reasonable amount to put away for monthly discretionary spending.

To summarize:

Goal 1
Pay Off Debt In Two Years (By January 2011)

Goal 2
Accumulate No New Debt

Goal 3
Allow Controlled Discretionary Spending


I’m not very good with rules. I tend to be over-ambitious in what I might be able to accomplish, setting myself up for certain failure. I would like to take a more reasonable approach to rules this time around.

Rule No. 1
Track All Spending

I have no desire to do this, but I hear it’s incredibly helpful. So, I am committing to a full three months, beginning December 5th.

Rule No. 2
Cancel All Credit Cards

I have always avoided this in order to maintain my good debt/credit ratio, but no longer. I must cancel all cards by the end of January, 2009.

Rule No. 3
50% Of All Additional Income Goes To Debt

It could be more, but I feel comfortable settling on 50% for the time-being.

Rule No. 4
Contribute To 401K

This seems like a no-brainer, even with the economy in the crapper.

Rule No. 5
No Excuses

No I Give Ups, Fuck Its, I Deserve Its. I always managed to find an excuse, any excuse, to spend money. I can’t do this any longer.


Allow myself some flexibility.

I know I just went on and on about rules and goals and whatnot. But, I must remain flexible – life throws you curve-balls, and all that – and I will have some failures and set-backs. I have to allow for them or I will never succeed in my ultimate goal.


7 Responses to “Rules To Live By”

  1. kev Says:

    That’s actually not a no-brainer. A lot of your 401K money goes into stock funds and as everyone knows, stocks are not doing so well nowadays. If you do put a lot of money in 401k, hope there is more war coming soon. heh?

  2. pennyplastic Says:

    There’s only a little bit going into my 401K…….but, yes, you’re right.

  3. Kateness Says:

    First, thank you so much for posting this, you’re not the only one who has had this problem! I am almost 100% debt free, and it feels so good, so i know you can do it too.

    I mostly wanted to say that I’ve been tracking my spending (literally every single purchase on a spreadsheet, and bank info written down once a week). It helps so so much and is worth it. My suggestion would be to make it a daily habit, as in right after work or right before bed.

    Kev was a little harsh, and you probably already know this but a basic savings account is an alternative.

    I hope this is helpful and not too bossy, I just jumped at the chance at maybe helping someone out!

  4. allison Says:

    “No I Give Ups, Fuck Its, I Deserve Its. I always managed to find an excuse, any excuse, to spend money. I can’t do this any longer.”

    I am so good at this. Convincing myself to spend and convincing myself to stay in bed (to miss things that will really hurt me, like therapy visits not paid by insurance) are what I do best.

  5. Solangel Says:

    what are you using to track your spending? I am also trying to get my debt paid off (currently at $8,428) and I came across this free personal finance website I have read that it is not as good for people with lots of investments, but for someone like me, who just needs to track her credit card debt, it has been really helpful. I like it because you can (safely) store the info for your financial accounts and it will automatically import your transactions from your accounts when you log in so you don’t have to do anything manually. I am enjoying your blog and wish you the best of luck.

  6. pennyplastic Says:

    Hi there! I track my spending manually. I am signed up for Mint but rarely use it (I think I will be posting about this later). Thanks for checking out the blog!

  7. DMAC Says:

    Although, I know you feel canceling all your CC are the best option, you never really know when something might happen. It might be best for you to just not carry the card with you and keep it in your somewhere hidden. It seems wired but say your car needs a repair, and you have to have it but don’t have the money, it is helpful to put it on a CC and tell yourself I will pay so much extra a month to pay off this extra debt.

    Also about contributing to 401k. Don’t think of it as the market being down right now there for you aren’t growing any current assets. Think of it as the fact that although it is down you have at least 20 years until you retire and the market will be fully recovered and then some by then. It is a smart investment in you, and your future.

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