Once upon a time, Scott Henderson used credit cards like “free money,” maxing out his balances and getting cash advances to pay for wedding expenses – then carrying those balances forward monthly, paying the only the minimum.
He wasn’t alone: 34% of Americans carry credit card balances vs. paying the cards off every month (and 35% of Mint users do the same).
But once Scott, a peer mentor at University of Utah, and his new wife took a good look at how this debt was affecting their financial picture, everything changed. They used Mint to set their goal and keep track, and the rest is history (and the future).
What kind of credit card debt did you have before you started paying them off?
When we started paying down our credit card debt, we had four credit cards. One of them was maxed out to nearly $1,500, and the other cards were nearly maxed out as well. I didn’t fully understand how a credit card worked before I got married, other than it was pretty much free money to me. When I decided to get married, I made cash advances to pay for my wife’s wedding ring and maxed out all of my cards. I later found out the many reasons why that was a bad idea.
What led to your decision to pay off your credit card debt?
A few months into marriage, my wife asked me why I had been carrying such high balances on my credit card. I said, “because of you!” That’s when we decided to get serious.
How did you use Mint to help?
When we realized we were carrying more debt than we could handle (and it was only getting worse), we decided to set a goal in Mint to pay down our credit card debt. It let us know that if we were to pay only the minimum payment each month, we would never pay off our debt. Instead, we put as much money toward our credit card debt each month as we could manage and were able to pay it off in a reasonable amount of time.
How long did it take for you to pay off all the credit card debt?
It was the first year of our marriage of sacrificing things to pay off our balance completely. But one year into marriage it felt extremely good to know we no longer had credit card debt. Now that we pay off our balance each month, it is still easy to let it get out of control, but we dedicated ourselves to never carry a balance again.
How does Mint help you now?
Checking Mint every few days helps me to know what categories I am spending the most on, my monthly average amount of expenditures, upcoming bills, my credit card balances all in one place, and so many other things.
How do you use credit cards now?
We put everything on our credit card to build rewards, points, miles and increase our credit score. My wife and I pay off the balance every week and before the credit card companies report to the credit bureaus. The greatest part about it is now that we don’t carry a balance we don’t have to pay interest.
How has your lifestyle changed since going from balance carrier to balance payer?
We feel we have more freedom to do the things we want to do. We don’t pay for things we did last year that we don’t care about anymore. Now that [the debt] is paid off, we are able to put all that money towards our first home.
Now that we are balance payers, we have a budgeting system that we set up where each time we get paid, we are so excited that we both argue about who gets to break up the money into the different accounts.
You can be like Scott
We can identify with the excitement of budgeting and tracking goals! Next month we will look at how recent college graduates or people just starting out in their careers use mint to build a promising financial future.
Are you one of those? We would like to hear your story! Contact us at Editor_Mint@intuit.com with “Mint User Story” in the subject.
Kim Tracy Prince is a Los Angeles-based writer who also paid off her credit card debt after getting married! She recommends doing it before, if you can.