Give it up for the Baileys from Jackson, Mich.
The couple, Jerry and Sue, paid off $92,000 in credit card debt in five and a half years and has been named Clients of the Year by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, according to a release from the nonprofit on Thursday.
The Baileys rejected bankruptcy as an option and instead tackled the debt that was spread across 17 credit cards. Jerry said it had been easy to get a new credit card with a high limit during the go-go years in the mid-2000s.
Sue remained in the dark about how much they owed because her husband paid the bills. But she went along with their financial free-for-all, even agreeing to put the costs of their daughter's wedding on a credit card.
Finally, their debt caught up with them and they turned to GreenPath Debt Solutions, a not-for-profit credit counseling service. They got on a debt management plan and spent the next half-decade repaying what they owed.
Not a dime of their debt was forgiven. The only break they got was a temporary payment adjustment when Sue stopped working for six months due to surgery. Jerry even took on a second job.
“When we received the call from GreenPath informing us that our debts were paid in full, I had to ask them to repeat it," Jerry said in the press release.
Jerry and Sue aren't alone in vanquishing their credit card debt. Since the Great Recession started, Americans have consistently been paying down their credit card balances. Major issuers report that more consumers are paying their bills on time and fewer accounts are being written off as uncollectible.
If you want to get in on the "Great Debt Reduction" trend, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Tackle the balance with the highest interest rate. No need to pay more interest than you should.
- If you're easily discouraged, start with the smallest balance so you can get a psychological edge.
- Check out Bankrate's calculator to figure out what it will take to pay down your credit card debt.
- Make sure your payments get in on time, so your credit score will get a boost, too.
- If you run into any troubles, contact your lender and/or a nonprofit counseling service to help you get back on track.
Good luck! Let me know how your debt payment plan goes.
Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron