Credit Card Debt – The Struggle Is Real

by Steve Georgoulakis, CFP® on Sunday April 09, 2023
Posted in Category: Debt
Tagged with : ,

Couple looking at bills

It’s OK to struggle with high-interest rate credit card debt, but it’s not OK to stay that way.

As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional with 20 years of experience, I’ve counseled thousands of Service members struggling with debt. And I’m not an exception. I’ve struggled with credit card debt myself. In fact, I racked up over $22,000 in credit card debt following a divorce in 2016. This number pales in comparison to some of my clients who carried upwards of $50,000, $60,000, and even over $70,000 in credit card debt. The struggle is real.

The stress of carrying this weight can be felt in your monthly budget, your relationships, and your mental health. It’s natural to feel ashamed and want to stick your head in the sand and ignore the problem. Take it from me – don’t do it.

The fact is, the average American carries approximately $6,000 in credit card debt in 2023. Roughly one third of Americans carry credit card debt from month to month. I share these statistics to demonstrate you are not alone and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it.

Credit card debt doesn’t have to run your life.

It took me a few years using the approach below, but I’m completely out of credit card debt. Many of my clients were able to completely pay off their credit card debt too, with some hard work, discipline, and smart decisions…and yes, this even includes the client with $70,000 in credit card debt.

But it won’t happen unless you want it.

I mean really want it.

I mean, you are so sick of being sick and need to make a change today, want it.

Ok, enough build-up and bumper sticker talk…here are six steps to get you started. These can all be found in greater detail in The USAA Educational Foundation’s Debt Destroyer® Program.

  • Step 1 – Stop the Bleeding. Evade new debt by paying with cash only. Resist the temptation to take on new debt by identifying and changing debt-creating behaviors. Escape late fees and penalties by making at least the minimum payments on time.
  • Step 2 – Build a Safety Net. Create a financial safety net of $1,000 to pay for emergencies. This money can help you stop taking on additional debt while you are paying back credit cards. Here are a few ways to quickly build up this amount.
  • Step 3 – Confront Your Debt. Lay out all your debts and record the balance, minimum payment, and interest rate. Explore balance transfers, personal loans, and other methods to lower the amount of interest you are paying each month.
  • Step 4 – Know Your Cash Flow. Update or create a spending plan. Here is a worksheet to help you get started.
  • Step 5 – Adjust Your Cash Flow. Determine how much extra you’ll need to pay down your debt. Decide where the extra money is going to come from (make more or spend less). In my case, I lived with a close friend for a few months rent free to help get my journey started.
  • Step 6 – Pay It Down. Use this calculator to analyze your debts using the Avalanche and Snowball methods. Choose a strategy and stick with it.


The USAA Educational Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt IRS 501(c)(3) and cannot endorse or promote any commercial supplier, product, or service. The content of this blog is intended for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice.