How did you accumulate all that credit card debt?

Introduction | Reader responses: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

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On July 7th, 2006. I asked readers to submit their answers to an age-old question: How did you accumulate all that credit card debt? There were some terrific responses, and about 50 people who didn't have any credit card debt at all.

There was a three-month period where my husband was waiting for a job that kept having its start-date moved back. It was going to be at a high salary, so we just started buying things. Ended up down $5,500.
I cannot resist a high-quality pair of shoes on super-sale. I cannot.
Clothes and eating out.
partying like a rock star with the salary of a burger-flipper
never did. I'm a "convenience user" (I pay my balance off every month)
The sad thing is that I hardly even remember. Living, I guess you'd call it, cost $4100
For some reason, a credit card company gave me a $10,000 dollar limit on my very first card. I immediately bought a DVD player--it was 1996 so it was around $700--then I proceeded to amass a DVD collection that rivaled the local Blockbuster. I have since paid off the debt and since the DVD format has managed to last a whole decade feel that my purchases were justified--except for the regular editions of movies that have since come out with super director's editions. I'm sure I'll be singing a different tune once this Blue Ray ackamarackus takes over. Sadly, unlike you, Rob, I had to turn to my parents for help to get out from Visa's thumb. Congrats on being responsible enough to pay off your own debt. Oh, and great job on 20/20. Dave
$1900 - remainder of a car loan and an iPod
I never accumulated credit card debt. My parents always said not to buy something unless you had the money saved up.
$1200 total
$500 insurance deductible after backing into a fire hydrant
$300 "4TH-5TH YR Advanced Exchange, TS and Parts with SystemSat" on my laptop
$389 gas, groceries and clothes
$11 lunch at Panera bread
It was those damn rice crispy treats that came pre-made. Man those are addicting.
books, beer, and not having health insurance
i needed horse meat for food... i got 10,000 dollars in debt, but man, all those horses were worth it!
$72,000 on multiple cards. This from furnishing my new house and starting an MLM business.
A few years after college was when my credit card debt maxed out... at around $12,000. (I also had $15,000 in student loans.) I got it by spending more money than I was making; I had a decent job, but I was living beyond my means.
Some of the biggest items that caused this debt: three computers (over eight years), a $900 camcorder (which broke into many small pieces in an accident), an $800 brake job on a car to get it to pass state inspection (even though it only lasted one more year after that)... and another used car, paid for with one of those checks that comes with your credit card statement. Also cigarettes caused thousands of dollars of credit card debt; fortunately, I quit smoking three years ago.
The good news is that not only am I now down to $3,000 in overall debt, but I'm on track to have it all paid off by November 2006.
Not working while in school and being a car owner. About $6000 at 5.9%.
$2500 - tires for my truck, medication (pre-health insurance), and a cruise to Alaska
That's my story! Except I'm still in college. And my birthday is October 14th, if that means anything.
Credit Card debt: $500 - University expenses... you know, food, books etc. Bank Overdraft: $1000 - University expenses... again... Student Loan: $40000 - Bachelor of Science in Biology... Thank you University of Auckland. Hire purchase: less then $200 - Will be paid of in 2 weeks on my next pay day :) Luckily my overdraft is interest free and New Zealand no longer has interest on student loans (because prior to this the compulsory repayments wern't covering the interest being charged)
Australian HECS University fees, $26,000 (AUS)
Despite paying for 4 years of University on my own, I've never carried a cent of credit card debt. I don't understand how people who do can look themselves in the mirror in the morning.
I don't have a credit card. *blink*
I'm still in the process of doing it, by going to college. HOORAY!
I didn't. You look weird in that photo.
marijuana, taquitos, and cheese sauce... $2500
Buying crap off of ebay. So addictive! $2000
I'm 24 and I don't have a credit card. However I am 12,000 in debt because of my Student Loan.
For me it was a computer combined with several months of unemployment after college, totaling $3000
Err... About 5,000. Some of which is interest free, which is nice. Mainly on living expenses over university, mostly in the last year.
$8000, and I took a semester off and lived in New Zealand for 8 months... It was ABSOLUTLY worth it.
I got married to it. On November 27th, 2004 I married $15,472 of credit card debt. It's now $8,754. w.kone
Debt is for suckers!
I've never had a credit card so I've never had the debt. I was overdrawn once though: the purchase that tipped me over the edge was a copy of Therapy?'s single "Screamager" on pink vinyl. It was worth it.
My debt (which is now paid in full) was completely self-inflicted by discretionary spending. I think this is the reason for most people's big credit card balances, and most people won't admit it. Do you really need a 42" plasma TV? Do you really need that fancy SUV? (which has high monthly payments, so more of your other spending has to go on your credit card). Etc, etc.. I reigned in my debt (which approached $10,000 at one point) by just cutting out the fluff, and living within my means.
My first sales job out of college required that I put tons of miles on my car, and my mileage reimbursement checks were slow to arrive. My plan was to pay for the gas with a credit card, and when the reimbursement checks arrived I would apply them to my credit card. However, because young and stupid (mostly stupid) I treated the reimbursement checks like found money and used it on babes and beer. I got about $3500 deep before I figured out that it couldn't continue.
About 2,000 ($3,700) due to techno-lust :-)
Rob, I want to see the other people's answers so I am entering this lonelt sentence. Thanks for opening up this line of discussion!
almost 7k myself, and halfway through a four year college course. A large chunk isn't from college though... it's from getting started in DJing! (vinyl's frikkin expensive!)
I have never gone into debt. I only ever charged what I could afford, because I thought that was all I was "allowed" to do. Once I realized I could go "over," the skill not too was deeply ingrained.
Millions of dollars in heroin and upper-class hookers.
We racked up over $30,000 in consumer debt when we first got married. We don't use credit cards or borrow money, except for a mortgage, at all anymore. We pay cash for our cars too and it's the best feeling. And I know the date that I paid our last debt too: February 17th! We love being debt free!
How? I got married. How high? $9000 on the cards I know about.
Stuff, divorce costs, more stuff, vacations, WoW subscription, even more stuff. I could not possibly remember where all my debt began. :(
Same as you, I reckon. It started with a computer, then I added in general living expenses. Then that cute girl at Target got me to apply for another card. Then I needed another computer... Now I'm up to about four grand. I'm paying one fifty a month, but I don't think it's actually going down.
I have about $3000 in emergency dental work I had to put on my credit card due to lack of funds. And that was with insurance. The new refridgerator in my new house might have added a few hundred, too...and the new area rugs and new carpet cleaner and landscaping equipment. But the dental work was teh bulk of it.
Food and gas when I was self employed. 18,000.00
30000. Teaching snails to speak 15th. Century peasant French.
medical bills, since I don't have health insurance - $5000
How did I accumulate all that credit card debt? The Bahamas, baby! The Bahamas! Vacations are expensive! But I eventually got it paid off.
Never had it. Junior high economics class scared the shit out of me, and I never had a credit card until my last year of college, and even then I never used it.
No longer any more debt, but in the post college years I was upwards of 15k.
About $10,000 and I racked it up supporting a deadbeat husband. Thankfully, he's out of the picture now and the amount is slowly going down. Believe me when I say I'll never EVER do that again.
I owe about 13,000 in credit card debt. But 5,000 is at 1.9% interest, 6,000 is at 4.9% interest, and 2,000 at 9% that I will pay off in 3-4 months. The 5,000 is left over from grad school. I spent a summer in Italy. Because the interest rate is so low, I pay the minimum each month. The 6,000 is a combination of a computer, a treadmill, 2,000 pounds of terracotta clay, art history books, shoes and coffee.
$7,000 on a trip to Europe during college with my two best friends that I couldn't afford among other things.
mainly by paying for meals/beer and buying crap I didn't need. I straight up quit paying my credit cards about a year and a half ago. Then I started getting 4 or 5 phone calls a day from bill collectors, but now I only get one every couple of days. I pretty much sent my credit score through a shredder.
$7,000 -- renovating a 100-year-old home. That's expensive.
digital cameras and taking girls out to eat. 10k
I have zero credit card debt, but I do owe 13k skrilla for student loans.
Wow. 7k is nothing. I had just gotten out of law school. My fiancee at the time had just been laid off. I was working as a bartender and she as a sales clerk. We both went FAST from two great, well paying jobs, to two minimum wage joke jobs. We were putting everything on a card that we had to. Groceries, gas, RENT. Everything. It was terrible. We are in the process of paying through the nose to get back into good shape and get rid of thsoe cards. We think we can do it in two years. We both now have very good jobs. So here's the current tally: 5 credit cards 31,000 in debt And let's not forget student loans: that's another 50k And obviously the house. but that doesnt' count.
But I am proud to say that we haven't charged a single thing in almost a year. So we're definitely going to nail that debt!
After college I took a job as a VISTA volunteer (kind of like the American Peace Corps). Because of this vow of poverty ($125 a week was my pay) I was not only able to apply for and receive food stamps, but I was also able to rack up a considerable amount of debt on my credit card. You know, frivolous things like gas, car repairs, clothes, beer, etc. After two years of 'service to America' I bailed out for another low paid job - start-up restaurant owner. I figure during that time I amassed $5-$7000 in debt. If it was not for a small inheritance from a grandparent's estate ($4000) I'd probably be paying it off to this day! These days I keep my CC debt to under $2K and pay it off regularly...usually...
I have never had Credit Card debt. I have always paid off my full balance even during college years. Being a golf course caddy allowed me to rack up tons of cash every summer so I never came across the debt problem.

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