Lynn O'Shaughnessy

Nobody likes to talk about their credit card debt. If you're addicted to plastic, you certainly don't want anyone to discover your secret.

But strangely enough, some bloggers don't mind divulging every detail of their supersized spending habits. The creator of www.bloggingawaydebt.com owes $22,192, and she recently had just $122 in a savings account. The young couple behind the Web site www.makelovenotdebt.com are coping with a negative net worth of $66,274. The woman who launched a blog called Debt Hater owes $9,989, but, hey, she's shed $5,681 since a year ago.

For some of these online confessors, the monthly interest charges alone could exceed the financial commitment it would require to buy a mighty fine plasma TV, which 75 percent of women would prefer over a diamond necklace, according to one debtor's blog. Illustrating just how debilitating a monstrous account balance can be, the woman behind www.bloggingawaydebt.com confessed that the finance charges on her credit cards one month added up to $417.49. What motivates these and other bloggers to bare their account balances is their eagerness to sever their indentured servitude to Visa and MasterCard. It's easy to feel as helpless as an American Idol reject when your credit card tab reaches into the tens of thousands of dollars. After experiencing their own financial epiphanies, many of these penitents have decided to give online self-flagellation a spin.

One such blogger, who christened his Web site www.stopbuyingcrap.com, is now a strong advocate of a boring but often necessary pursuit - budgeting. Visitors to this site can vote on stuff that the blogger, who racked up $10,000 of debt before he was 21, feels is as useless as lint. Most of his visitors agree that Tempur-Pedic mattress (65 percent), TMX Elmo (78 percent), ionic breeze air purifiers (93 percent) and first-class air travel (71 percent) are not worth the money. When the blogger, however, suggested that memberships to the Auto Club and the local gym weren't worth the price, only 23 percent and 44 percent agreed.

On these Web sites, even the most insignificant attempts to economize become blog fodder. The woman behind www.saveleighann.blogspot.com shared this news bulletin: She saved 20 cents by using a parking meter that still had time on it. A 20-year-old film-school dropout bragged on her Poorer Than You blog, (www.kgazette.blogspot.com) that she shopped for groceries with a list to cut down on impulse buys. Debt Hater (www.debthater.typepad.com) acknowledges that she sometimes splurges too much on entertainment, but she spent only $30 a week in February on groceries, in part, because she learned more creative ways to use eggs and chicken.


Lynn O'Shaughnessy

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of Retirement Bible.

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