How This Single Mom of Two Paid Off $43,000 in Credit Card Debt in 16 Months

Being a mom of two, I’ve always known how rewarding motherhood was, but I wasn’t quite ready for the challenges of juggling it all on one income. Recently divorced, I found myself starting from scratch and having to cover the entire bill.

I never thought this would be my life, so I didn’t plan for it. One failed marriage down—and a bunch of debt from it—my emergency fund was depleted. I had about $175 for emergencies, which was clearly not enough money to make a difference.

To supplement my income, I used my credit cards even more to help cover my bills and pay for my moving expenses. This caused my credit score to plummet. I went from about a 720 credit score to a 545. I took so much pride in my credit and this devastated me.

I knew I had to make some changes and get out of this hole. I grew up watching my mother be a single mom with two children. She did everything she could to make sure we had what we needed. I remembered she worked two jobs to make ends meet. She worked extremely hard and had very little time to enjoy the fruits of all her labor. I knew there had to be a better way.


So I sat down and planned my new budget so I could build my strategy for paying off my credit card debt. I used the budget by paycheck method where I wrote down all my expenses that would be paid by each paycheck for the next three months. It was a lot of work, but I needed to see where all my money was going.

Subtract Expenses

I noticed I didn’t spend a ton of money on frivolous things, but there were definitely some areas where I could cut back. First things first, I got rid of my cable, then I changed my car insurance. I realized I barely watched television and had Netflix and Hulu, so there was really no need for cable. That saved me over $130 a month. Shopping for new car insurance was also a great idea and is usually an area people never look at when cutting back. I saved over $60 a month by switching. I also changed my cell phone plan, used less electricity, changed grocery stores, and cut down the amount we spent eating out. I got really close to saving almost $300 a month. All that extra cash went toward my credit card debt.

Add Income

You can only cut back so much, so I switched my focus to increasing my income. Here’s the thing: my job didn’t allow for overtime and I knew I didn’t want to work two jobs like my mom did growing up, so I thought about a side hustle.

I wanted my side hustle to be on my terms, where I could work when I wanted to work so I could still enjoy time with my children. I created a jewelry subscription box service that went from three women enrolled to over 70 women. My website also sold single pieces of jewelry for women who didn’t want a subscription box. I made sure to pay myself from my business and all of that money went to my credit card bills.

As I saw the debt get smaller and smaller, I got more excited because as I paid off credit cards, my credit score increased. This gave me even more motivation to keep going.

Pay the Bills

Every little bit of money I got went straight to my credit cards. Until I got a huge amount back as a tax refund. I thought it would make more sense to use that entire check to pay off my car note. I’m glad I did because that gave me over $230/month I could now throw at my credit card debt.

The more I paid off, the easier it got because as I paid off one card, I put all the money I was using to pay off that card to the next card.

Reduce Interest

One thing I needed to figure out was how to avoid paying all this interest. So I made up my mind to open another card with 0% interest and transferred some of my credit card balances to avoid wasting money on interest. That decision helped me save over $5,000.

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Keep Going

I continued to find new ways to earn more income. I was working pretty hard at my 9-to-5. So I applied to one of their open positions and got it! My income doubled, but I didn’t increase my expenses. I continued to cut back and put everything toward my credit card debt.

Then I thought of a great idea for my jewelry business: dropshipping. I sent free jewelry to women in exchange for a picture of them wearing the pieces, and business started booming. Dropshipping helped me increase profits without increasing expenses so I could pay myself even more.

Enjoy the Benefits

After 16 months, every single credit card I owned was paid off and I was $43,000 in credit card debt lighter. My credit score also skyrocketed and instead of being at 545, I’m now at an 809. Although I still do not have cable, my choices have allowed me to save thousands of dollars for my emergency fund, purchase my first home, purchase a rental property, and start another business teaching other women how to manage their money.

Now known as The Budget Queen, I have coached over 500 women and helped them create a budget that has saved them up to $10,000. I give free money advice on my blog The Budget Queen Blog and Instagram page @BudgetQueen_Blog. I cover everything: budgeting, saving, paying off debt, and increasing your income to give women the competence and confidence in handling their own finances.

If I can do it, so can you.

Clarissa Moore, the “Budget Queen,” is the founder and owner of the Budget Queen Blog and brand. Clarissa teaches working women how to manage their money so they can live their best lives without going broke doing it.

Clarissa has helped her clients increase their credit score over 100 points through budgeting and money management. She has helped working women get approved for home loans and has now helped over 500 women create a budget that has saved them over $10,000, and that number continues to increase every day.

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