First post here: I make $20,000 a year and I'm $14,000 in debt. Any ideas for my situation?

Hey I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I dealt with a similar problem and want to share my analysis and approach tailored to you.

It sounds like your most urgent, critical problem is a need for extra cash for medical expenses. The ultimate way to pay for that is through savings, which you can only muster through lowering your expenses. There are several ways you can do this, and I'm sure you're already well versed at at living on a shoestring budget. Find more ways to cut costs, however humiliating they may be.

The second problem is looming, building debt - your debt builds with every month it is not paid off because of interest. You cannot afford to pay it off, and I assume you do not want to go into bankruptcy.

Your first approach on the debt should be to stop adding to it with interest. Your next best option is to buy time. Chase Slate lets you transfer a balance for no fee, and has free interest for 15 months. During that time, you can pay more than the minimum if you want to. Sometime around 13 months, look for another offer if you need more time to pay off the balance.

Something you might want to consider is transferring more than your actual credit card debt amount to Chase. This is as simple as listing 11k total rather than 7k on your application. You have to be strategic about it to represent something that Chase will find believable or it will only transfer an amount less than what you asked for. It might only transfer $500 or $1,500 and that wouldn't be a huge help for you.

If one of your cards is already a Chase card, don't misrepresent that balance, and list the full amount for transfer. Know that when Chase checks your credit, all it will know for the rest of your cards is the debt ratio (how much you owe in proportion to how high your credit line is) on each card, and your payment history. It will use industry practices and data to estimate what your credit limit on each card might be. It knows based on the income you provide in your application what other card companies probably offered you as a credit limit in the past. You should inflate your income, too, by about 3-5k based on what sounds reasonable for your job.

Bottom line, Chase will know for almost sure that you do not have any one card that gives you a $20k limit, and probably none with even an $8k limit. This is because one industry practice provides a credit limit based on only 10-30% of your income and another practice is to lower your credit limit when you make minimum payments for about a year. (Card companies don't want you racking up bills beyond what you can pay, only enough bills so that you can at least afford the minimum payments.)

So inflate one or all of your other cards whose balance you want to transfer to about 60% of each of their credit limit being mindful that Chase will not expect you to have a combined credit limit of over $15-20k. You should probably follow these steps for your boyfriend in about a month or two after your application.

Following the above steps gives you a cash buffer for the emergency expenses in addition to buying time to pay off the balance, and stopping the increase in the amount you owe on interest. You should plan to use this cash for covering the minimum expenses you face while you try to save.

If you feel like this is 'adding more debt,' you are right, but you are in a tough spot where your chances of a medical expense are certain and your ability to pay your other expenses is not. So see it as a 0% loan and do everything you can to prepare to eventually pay it all off under the smallest interest possible.

The other issue you need to think through is to be really honest about the success and impact of your attempts at making more money. You can sell your belongings one time for a little bit of your money back. You can 'invest' in making soap. These are not great strategies because they provide inconsistent, low returns and will NEVER change your financial situation.

Your better bet is to focus your time and resources into something will result in a consistently higher return on cash investment and your time. This takes discipline and an honest view of reality (including future earnings expectations), and most people don't have either. This means immediately stopping your non-fruitful investments and doing more to put yourself into a position to make consistent returns on investment or higher income.

If you can pick up another part-time job, do it now. It sucks but your situation is only going to get worse without more money and even $50/day is huge proportional to what you need to pay for.

You can also prepare for and look for a better paying job. This might include an investment in time to study on your own or take a course. A better paying job is your only way out of your situation. In the meantime, if you can't or won't find a part-time job, you should get more creative in your home-based work. Look for under-priced products and learn to re-sell them in another market. r/flipping is a good resource for to learn how to find hidden gems at yard sales and store clearances, and resell them on eBay and Amazon. You might consider going to and signing up as a personal assistant or bookkeeper. You might want to go to and sign up to sell a creative service.

Avoid the traps of network marketing, making things to sell, or worse, the crap I fell into where I tried to make money on these websites and apps that pay you tiny amounts for tiny actions. It was a royal waste of time and prolonged my situation until I found better consistent work. Like you, my financial rut caused me to put off family for multiple years. It set me back emotionally as well and caused problems in my relationship that were too hard to deal with because I was so scared about finances and just acting desperate.

Best of luck to you. You will get through this. Feel free to PM me if you need some more ideas.

/r/personalfinance Thread