After turning 30, I set a personal goal to pay off all my debt, with the hope that I might have a decent credit score one day. I realized that after a few stupid decisions in my twenties, it was time to grow up and really take care of business.
When I started, I was looking at $14,000 in debt. I've had a few judgements, a car repossession, some credit card bills, and numerous hospital bills that were left unpaid. Like most people, I was overwhelmed at the start.
Where do I start? Do I pay the big bills first or last? Should I consolidate? Should I attempt to settle my debts?
Three years later, I sit here at my desk, looking at $5200 left of that massive balance. Things have been tight, and occasional bills got added to that list, however I only owe 35% of what I originally did.
It feels good to get creditors off my back.
Most credit experts will tell you that paying off debt is not enough to repair a damaged score. Having credit cards and installment loans goes a long way to raising your credit score, according to CNN Money. In light of that fact, I have not tried to get another credit card or loan through my bank, and with good reason...
By scheduling the repayment of my debts, I've created an impromptu timeline for my discernment. I know, I know. We work in God's time, not ours. I shouldn't set timelines or limitations.
However paying off past debt is a requirement before acceptance by a seminary or religious order. While my desire started years before the desire for priesthood, the end result has not changed...to become debt-free. I've had offers for credit cards and financing for a vehicle. Why not shoot for a 700+ FICO score?
My biggest excuse for not "running full speed" is that I am not ready financially. The idea of postulancy or a novitiate year sound wonderful, however I still have too many expenses to take that long of a sabbatical. Perhaps when I finally have my debt paid off, I'll be ready to quit this job and take the next big step.
(Different orders have different rules regarding past debt. Some will waive scholastic debt, up to a given dollar amount. Consult your vocations director for further information.)