So last year, I had a veterinary emergency for one of my pets that was not covered by his pet insurance. It blew through my savings and then some, but at the end of it, his quality of life is much higher and his life expectancy is normal. I'd do it again.

Except now I'm stuck trying to crawl my way out of the debt and that's been a challenge. I don't make a ton of money but live in a HCOL. I've been trying to avalanche it, but aggressively doing so has made me not as financially stable on a day to day basis, so it's hard to break the credit card habit. We don't eat out much, I've cut my expenses where I could as well. I used to do gig work (dog walking) but then due to a back injury had to switch to a 9-5 desk job. I've been at that job for about 3 months, and can probably negotiate for a small raise in another 3 months or so.

I'm at a loss for what to do. I want to keep my credit in solid shape (it's about a 750 now, and I've never missed a payment). I have several solid lines of credit (I have the card that all of this went on, the balance transfer card I opened to help reduce my interest rates, and a Target credit card). I could get approved for a decent loan but I don't want to jeopardize my credit for too many account openings and closures... I'm just at a loss. 

Original Post

I know exactly how you feel! Unexpected emergencies can make you feel absolutely defeated. Have you re-established your budget? This is the number one thing I'd do first. Once I had a car emergency and had to make a list of everything that I would skip on spending money on for a few months. It was amazing how much eliminating going out to eat did for me. I was able to use that extra money to put towards my debt. 

Once you determine how much you need/want to pay off, make a list of the things you absolutely need to spend money on. For a few months I had to get creative about what to do on the weekends, but it was an eye-opener how much I was actually spending on unnecessary things. From making this list I actually ended up saving almost $300/month just from eating out!

Definitely keep paying bills on time and don't close any of your accounts. Even if you don't use them, closing accounts can actually affect your score. 

I hope this helps a bit! I'm sure other community members will have their own experiences and advice to share.

Thanks Brianna,

I’m still on top of all my bills but have little to no wiggle room each month. It’s been over a year already and I’ve made very little overall progress partially because I try to pay it off with any extra income I have instead of savings then boom, something happens. I don’t know how to break that particular cycle without getting stuck in debt for years. 

I completely understand that. I still made sure that I continued saving as well (even if it was $20 a month). That way in case another emergency happened, I had something to put towards it. Do you have any extra time to try some side gigs? Delivery driving and companies like Shipt may be good options, just to make a little extra cash in the meantime.

The Penny Hoarder has a whole page full of side gig options if you'd like to try some of those out. I'll share the link here: 
https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/make-money/side-gigs/

@Emily Shifflett, I'm in the same boat. I have only been on this site for about a month, But I've learned a few things. I am happy to say, that budgeting using the envelope method has been great. I pack my lunch ( treat myself on Friday). I use coupons. Started to recycle. I'm going through my garage, sorting things in 3 groups  keeping, American Vets, and selling...

@Briana, thank you for adding link to Emily's post. I'm going to browse through it, too. 

About 6 months ago now I switched banks due to a major problem with my previous bank to an online bank called Simple that's helped immensely. They have budgeting built into your account so you can automatically allocate money to expenses or financial goals and then after that's all covered they give you your Safe to Spend number. It's been really helpful for me in breaking the habit of using my credit cards when something goes wrong/preventing things from going wrong in the first place. Highly recommend. 

@Briana, I was working the dog walking side gig for a while and really liked it until my back injury got too bad to keep up. I don't have a car unfortunately, which really limits what I can do as a side gig. I've been trying to find some purchase doing freelance writing work but that's been slow going. 

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like without my cat. But then I remember I raised him from when he was 2 weeks old and he is the literal light of my life. Yeah, this is stressful and hard to deal with, but losing him would be emotionally devastating, especially knowing how much better his life is after this. I'd make the same decision to save him again, even knowing what I do now.

I had a "furry friend" for many years....a dog named Rusty. My wife and I raised him from a puppy of just a few weeks. He was a runt and his mother had rejected him. It took a lot of time and effort, and I was able to work then outside the home. When we  moved from Granite Falls, MN to Peoria, IL, we were told we would have to lose the dog or lose the apt. we rented. I found Rusty a good home, and though I missed him, I realized early on that things had changed. I wasn't as easy going. Yes, it is expensive to maintain an animal, but it also lowers ones blood pressure, brings unconditional love and encouragement and sometimes is practical to have one if the benefits outweigh the costs. Personally, I'm looking for another dog to raise, preferably from a pup. I think it would help to keep me on my walking outside to keep him fit, and myself as well. It would also help me to have someone here while Vivian is at work all day. It might give me some new short stories for my collection as well. Just some things to think on in considering your options.

@STHOM  I am on Next Door, but I have not seen any animals listed.  Although, I don't look at it all the time.  The fact that I don't drive also has an impact on whether or not to have a dog or cat.  You need to be able to take them to the vet when necessary.  

@MSKIMBERLY Sometimes, you will see pets on there. I adopted (took over) her from a family whose son was joining the Navy and was the dog's caretaker. It was a multi-generational household and the grandmother was used to Chihuahuas, not larger dogs (she's a 34 lb. Australian Shepherd mix with the light beige spots on her legs). She was 8 years old in January 2018 when I got her. She's been a joy, and yes it would be hard without a car. Besides, she's a car hound! I've had cats too (who are great companions), and my last one passed in 2013 at around age 14 (I found her at a McDonald's).

I always try to rescue dogs. That's how I ended up with Rusty. His owner has said he wacs going to take him out and shoot him to get him out of his misery, especially since he was the runt. But, I wouldn't have ANY of that! I told him to bring Rusty in to us, and he started responding the very night we got him. I miss that little runt!   He lived with us in GA while we were managers for Subway Sandwiches, and then he also was with us in MN where we worked for a bakery and a church. He was a wonderfully smart and loving dog...almost HUMAN in my opinion. He was part Springer Spaniel, Irish Setter, and then Cocker as well. Loved him to death. I hated having to give him up, but both my wife and I were working in Illinois back in 1993, as well as going to Bible college. We didn't have time to take care of him, and besides, the apt wouldn't let us keep him. The farmer that took him lived in an area where I used to detassle corn every summer.  I got to see him a couple of times after giving him up, which was good for me, and I believe for him as well.

 

I don't personally have a pet, but I understand why many people do.

Having a pet can be expensive, but they also can be a very big part of our lives.

One thing I would say, focus more on keeping your interest low than on your credit score. While having a high score is nice, if getting a loan or even transferring the balance to a new card with a no APR introductory offer can save you money on the interest in the long run, it might be worth the hit to your credit score.

Your credit score is just a number, however, the interest rate on your credit card is a number that is hurting your finances more and more as time goes on.

Compound Interest is the culprit when it comes to keeping us in the financial debt cycle. Because each and every month it eats away at more and more of your finances.

Use your high credit score to your advantage as a way to pay lower interest. If your life is stable otherwise and you are not in the process of making a home or car purchase or renting an apartment, your credit score really doesn't help you much except when it comes to getting more debt.

But you can use it to your advantage by accessing little or no interest introductory offers that will allow you to manage your debt.

Then it will give you the breathing room to come up with a plan that you can implement to effectively pay it off without feeling like you are getting eaten alive.

Take it from my personal experience. I have (though I am not proud of it) carried a balance on my credit cards for over 2 years.

However, I have only ever paid interest on 1 of those cards because I was able to shift my debt and take advantage of multiple no interest offers.

I am not saying I am great at managing my finances or that everyone should do like me.

However, if you were to look at my credit report you would see 12 inquiries in the last 2 years and over 17 accounts open.

And while my score has bounced around. It has only ever dipped as low as 687 and as of this last month it has jumped back up to 710. (735 being the highest mine has ever been)

To sum it up, basically, focus less on the score of your credit and focus more on how much it is costing you to have that debt on a monthly basis.

If you can pay less in compound interest, it allows you to put more towards the principal and gives you the room you need to plan and work your way out of the debt.

(P.S. I am finally closer than I have ever been in the past 2 years to being free of credit card debt thanks to applying good financial principle such as are shared in this community)

Hope this helps!

Completely understand--I took out a loan for surgery for a pet rat named Fiona.  Would do it again even though Fiona has since crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  Have you tried getting CareCredit?  They have a very reasonable repayment plan and are specifically for vet, medical, and dental bills.  You might also want to check out a credit counselor such as A Debt Coach--they've been very good to me in helping pay off credit card debt.  They got my interest rate cut in half and helped me work out a payment arrangement with the bank, and they've been very patient when I've told them I need to change the payment date--restaurant work can be unsteady.  If you contact A Debt Coach, tell them Rebecca Oberg referred you.  Don't worry, it doesn't affect your credit rating, and they have an excellent record with the Better Business Bureau.

sthom posted:

@MSKIMBERLY Sometimes, you will see pets on there. I adopted (took over) her from a family whose son was joining the Navy and was the dog's caretaker. It was a multi-generational household and the grandmother was used to Chihuahuas, not larger dogs (she's a 34 lb. Australian Shepherd mix with the light beige spots on her legs). She was 8 years old in January 2018 when I got her. She's been a joy, and yes it would be hard without a car. Besides, she's a car hound! I've had cats too (who are great companions), and my last one passed in 2013 at around age 14 (I found her at a McDonald's).

It is very difficult when they pass on.  That is another thing I think about.

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