11 Sep

Written by Kathryn Vercillo on September 11, 2008

Most people feel that they have too much credit card debt. But just how much is “too much”? The answer is relative – some people feel that their $1500 debt is an overwhelming burden that can never be paid off whereas others are looking at $15000 of outstanding debt and envying that person with the $1500 balance.If you are someone who feels that you’ve really over-extended yourself with excessive credit card debt, take a look at the following fifteen examples of people with credit card problems so unbelievable that they probably make your own debt problems look paltry in comparison:

1. Ed McMahon Owes $750,000 in Credit Card Debt. It’s just sad that someone as famous as Ed McMahon managed to be so incapable of budgeting his money that he apparently owes somewhere around three quarters of a million dollars in credit card debt alone. Reportedly the problem is due primarily to a shopping addiction of his wife’s. Paying off debt like this will require selling off a mansion or two.

2. Student’s Debt Forces Him To Live in His Pickup. Ten thousand dollars in credit card debt doesn’t seem too high to some people (like McMahon) but it sure is a lot of money when you’re in your early twenties and trying to make it through college. The jobs that you can get at retail stores just don’t cut it if you actually want to pay back some of this debt. So one college student who found himself in this position decided to eliminate the biggest cost in his life – his rent. He moved into his pickup truck in order to save on the cost of housing and pay off those bills. When the story was first reported last year, he had been living in the truck for over a year and a half and had no intention of moving into a real home until the bills were paid off.

3. $125,000 Debt and Nothing to Show For It. One credit card company customer service representative has reported on a variety of the different credit card problems that she’s encountered over the years. One is the tale of a man who suddenly realized that he had $125,000 of debt and really couldn’t even remember what he’d spent that money on. Shocked, he said to the representative, “but I could’ve bought a house for that kind of money!”

4. Nine Credit Cards All Maxed Out. Pharmacists make good money right? Sure, but anyone can spend more than they make and that’s exactly what happened to this pharmacist who managed to rack up more than $55,000 in debt by maxing out all nine of the credit cards that she owns. Even working nights and weekends as a pharmacist, you’d have trouble paying this debt off quickly. This is one of those examples of why you shouldn’t have too many credit cards if you don’t want to get in to trouble with debt!

5. Debt Triples Due To Interest. One college student reports that she managed to qualify for – and promptly max out – five credit cards just in her freshman year of college. Unable to make anything more than the minimum payments on them, she eventually found that her $3000 balance had more than tripled up to nearly $10,000. That’s $7,000 that she owes just for the right to have borrowed that money in the first place. And she doesn’t even want to talk about the student loans that she’s taken out!

6. Six Figure Income Isn’t Enough To Pay Off Debt. Imagine that you and your spouse have a six-figure annual income that starts with a “4”. For most people, this seems like a whole lot of money. If you had that kind of income, you wouldn’t have credit card debt, right? Wrong. In addition to what is still owed on this family’s $875,000 home mortgage, they have over $50,000 in credit card debt spread out across twelve different credit cards. Can they pay it off? They aren’t sure.

7. Six Figures in Debt and Racking Up More. If this report is to be believed, there is one person out there who has racked up over $118,000 in debt and doesn’t really see it as any kind of problem at all. Eventually, of course, the credit lines will run dry but apparently she isn’t planning to do anything about reducing her spending until that happens. That’s the worst kind of credit card problem there is!

8. $100,000 Down, $100,000 To Go. Imagine that you pay off $100,000 in debt. That would be a great feeling, right? Yes, but what if that was only half of what you owed? One gal found that she owed over $200,000 in debt, approximately a fourth of which was owed on credit cards. She has managed to pay off half of that and to reduce the credit card balance portion of it down from over $50,000 to right around $2000. That’s a lot more manageable but it’s got to be frustrating to know that you still owe $100,000 more to different lenders!

9. Finance Expert Owes $100,000 on Credit Cards. It’s bad enough to owe six figures on a credit card no matter who you are but imagine if you owe that much and you’re supposed to be a “financial expert”. That was the case for Lynnette Khalfani, a finance journalist and author of two money books who didn’t always take her own good advice and ended up in some frightening debt. On the plus side, crawling out of that kind of debt makes for a good story and could translate into decent income for someone writing about finance!

10. Sleep Lost to Thinking About Credit Card Debt. One of the worst things that comes along with massive credit card debt is that there are health problems associated with the stress of that debt. This person reports feelings of self-hate and problems with losing sleep in trying to deal with almost $40,000 of debt much of which is on credit cards.

11. One Couple’s Bad Luck Story. The show Maxed Out is all about real-life people who have ridiculously bad debt and want to turn their situation around. This episode focused on a couple that had good jobs and a decent life when a series of bad luck situations caused them to enter some serious debt. A car accident, a sewage problem at the home and two lost jobs resulted in $67,000 of debt on top of their home mortgage. The only solution was to go on a reality TV show to get some help.

12. Taking Out Loans Against the 401K. Your 401K plan is supposed to be there for you in the future. But once you’ve spent all that you can on credit cards, you might be tempted to go ahead and take out loans against the 401K. That’s what happened to one woman who racked up $75000 between credit card spending and those loans and then had to try to reign herself in so that she could reduce that debt.

13. Elementary School Teacher Pays Off $60,000 Debt. This is a story that is somewhat depressing but which ultimately ends up being inspiring. It starts off with the tale of a man in his fifties who teaches elementary school, a job we all know doesn’t pay all that well. Using credit cards to help cover various expenses, he managed to dig himself into a hole made up of over $60,000 of credit card debt which wasn’t easy to pay off considering that he continued to work as a school teacher. Through some major cutbacks and sheer determination, he created a five-year plan for repayment of that debt and now can happily report that he is debt free.

14. Record-Breaking Bankruptcy: Credit Card Debt. Earlier this year it was reported that one set of bankruptcy filings showed a record-breaking level of credit card debt by someone who ultimately had to just throw in the towel and admit that it couldn’t be paid off. The individual had a balance of over $175,000 which was spread out across more than two dozen different credit cards issued by one dozen different lenders. Just the sheer thought of trying to keep that organized sounds overwhelming!

15. Presidential Candidate Owes Hundreds of Thousands in Debt. Reports have come out that presidential candidate John McCain and his wife have hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit card debt spread out over several different cards. Considering that he has a Senator’s salary and a pension from the Navy plus they own expensive property, it would seem that they could pay off this debt. Perhaps the fact that they don’t indicates how similar to other Americans they really are!


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    Maria Pitallano
    September 11th, 2008

    What a great article! So frustrating everyday to know that you have this mountain of debts, you just paid one credit card another one comes along and another one and another one. I’m relieved right now that it was not only me who had this problem, but Sen McCain!!!! WOW. AWESOME.

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    paid reviews
    September 11th, 2008

    Debt is relative but there is some really high amounts. It makes you wonder how people bounce back and make money to pay it off.

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