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Jack Dunstan
46, IT manager
Stafford, Va.

The Moment: After being left with about $7,000 in credit card debt after his divorce, Jack Dunstan decided he would never again pay interest to use his own money. He says it took him about two years to fully pay the debt.

In that time, he had a chance to re-examine his own spending habits. Never really a spendthrift, he decided to further curtail discretionary spending and budget more stringently. The goal, Jack says, is to provide his children and grandchildren an easier life.

The Method: Budgeting is critical. Regular bills and expenses are paid from his bank account automatically, and if he determines he really wants to purchase something, he will save his money and pay cash.

Jack says he keeps one credit card for absolute emergencies. He says he's hidden the card so well in his wallet "it would take me an hour to find it, probably." He also maintains a check card tied to his banking account.

The Glitches: At first it was difficult to curb impulsive spending. Ultimately, however, Jack says he learned the difference between needs and wants and how to make himself wait before purchasing discretionary items. "The instant gratification is short-lived - when you save up for it, it means so much more," he says.

The New Life: Jack says getting rid of credit card debt has fattened his 401(k) and enabled him to put money into his bank account that he would otherwise have spent on debt.

NEXT: The Lees

Last updated June 18 2008: 1:55 PM ET
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