Francine and Jim Bostick may look like an ordinary Kansas couple, but over the past five years, they accomplished an extraordinary financial feat: they paid off $120,000 of debt on the 13 credit cards they carried.
This month, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling named Mr. and Mrs. Bostick “Clients of the Year” for their effort and ingenuity in paying off their debt. Francine Bostick told the Christian Science Monitor’s Money Talks News that her financial dilemma was keeping her awake at night.
“I was not sleeping, trying to figure out how I was going to pay my bills,” she told Money Talks News. “One morning, I just said, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’”
Calling for Help
Prompted by her husband’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and the fear that they would be in debt for the rest of their lives, Bostick called a credit counseling agency to help her make a plan to dig out from under her debt. While bankruptcy was offered as an option, the Bosticks felt that since they had racked up the debt themselves, simply by living beyond their means, the ethical thing to do was repay it themselves. Because of his illness, Francine Bostick was afraid her husband wouldn’t be able to continue working, so she took a night job in addition to her full-time job and started moonlighting as a beauty product salesperson.
Five years later, the Bosticks were debt-free – but not without a lot of hard work. Here are some of the things they did that anyone struggling to get out of debt can do too, whether they owe $500 or $50,000.
The Bostick Method for Digging Out of Debt
- Write down what you owe on every card you carry. Bostick, like many people who carry a lot of credit card debt, wasn’t even sure how much debt she was in for years. She didn’t want to know how much she really owed, so she tried not to pay attention to bills and statements. To start tackling debt, look at every single account and write down the total balance – and the APR you’re paying.
- Make a budget and cut out all unnecessary expenditures. Bostick only watched four television channels, but she was paying for a cable package with 100 channels. They had to go.
- Take a second job – and a third or a fourth, if you can. Bostick was already working full-time, but she took a part-time job as a night janitor and started selling beauty products on the side to make extra and pay off her debt faster. Her husband, too, worked nearly full time in spite of his Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
- Don’t make impulse purchases. For Francine Bostick, $50 is her limit for purchases. If she wants something that costs more than that, she goes home and thinks about it for a few days. Often, she says, she realizes she didn’t really want the item after all, and never ends up buying it.
- Cut up the cards – and keep the pieces where you can see them. Bostick keeps hers in a clear plastic bag on her desk, as a constant reminder of where she’s been and how far she’s come.
Now that Bostick is out of debt, she has to rebuild her credit – ironically, through using credit cards. Although she is a little afraid of falling back into bad habits and getting back into debt, she knows that making small purchases and paying them off on time and in full each month is the key to rehabilitating her credit score.