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Well, faithful blog-readers, we hope you and your family are enjoying a most blessed Advent season. I have GREAT news to report:

WE PAYED OFF OUR FIRST STORE CARD!

(Well, all but $0.43 of it…I just looked online, and apparently, that’s how much I still owe. I’m pretty sure I won’t have a problem paying it.) :)

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Here’s the scoop…

We have a charge card with a very well-known retailer, and I (Stacey) had been keeping a running tally in my head of what I owe said retailer…I say “I” because I am the one who racks up most of the spending on that card. I estimated that I owed them nearly $40. And after making a killing in tips at my restaurant job this weekend, I had a decent amount of cash on me (this is one of the many benefits of working in the restaurant biz). So rather than waiting to make my payment online, where I would be tempted to just pay the minimum, I went into the store, marched myself up to the customer service desk, and happily handed the clerk two fresh $20 bills. I went home and looked at my account and found that my precise balance was indeed, $40.43. Okay, so I owe the store a whopping $0.43…but I think that rounds down to being paid off! :)

So after I pay the store $0.43, I’m done with that card. Finished. However, I’m not ready to cut up the card yet. I know it flies in the face of the debt-free experts today, but let me explain: the reason I keep this store card is because the retailer offers such deep discounts for card-holders. I don’t want to lose money by having to pay retail price for an item. So here’s my strategy: since I want to save money when I go shopping, I will use my store card only if I have the money in my account (preferably in cash in my wallet). I will check out in one of the lanes, and then march myself back to the customer service desk and pay off the balance as if I used cash. In that way, I don’t lose money by paying full price, but I also don’t lose money by having to pay interest. I trust you, my faithful readers, to help keep me accountable in this.

One last, related note: even in the midst of the craziness of the holidays, Seth and I feel SO energized to tackle these debts. We’re currently considering two things — one practical, and the other philosophical. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

1) Adam Baker (author of the Man vs. Debt blog) challenged his audience in a recent TED Talk to consider what their definition of “freedom” is, not just philosophically but practically. Seth and I are earnestly pondering that question, and when we can put it into words, a blog post on this topic will be forthcoming.

2) We are considering putting one of our federal debts into forebearance so that we can “snowball” one of our smaller balances on our other student debts. Perhaps we will also write more on the “snowball” debt strategy as well. For more information, you can also check out Dave Ramsey’s website at www.daveramsey.com.

So that’s it, faithful readers. Have a very merry Christmas and a blessed new year. Once we get out of our food coma from all our holiday treats, we shall regail you with more of our story as we journey toward debt freedom! :)

~Stacey 

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