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Couple pay off $46,000 in debt, throw party

  • Story Highlights
  • Sherrie Muldoon: "When we mailed that last check ... I just burst out into tears"
  • How did they pay off $46,244 in less than four years? Drastic lifestyle changes
  • She also took extra jobs on weekends, such as cleaning office buildings
  • Even party was on the cheap; she served ham from a couple of pigs she raised
  • Next Article in U.S. »
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(CNN) -- For Sherrie Muldoon, the credit card debt was $46,244.

But the relief she felt after paying it off was priceless.

So much so that the Colorado resident and her husband threw a party Saturday for friends and family after mailing off the final check. The event at a community center featured a cake decorated with the debt amount in green icing, CNN television affiliate KUSA reported.

The couple had been paying the debt for three years and seven months, Muldoon told CNN, adding that the last payment they made recently was for $1,500.

"When we mailed that last check ... I sat down in the car, I looked over to my husband and I just burst out into tears," she said. iReport.com: Have you paid off a huge debt lately?

The typical American household with at least one credit card has nearly $10,700 in credit card debt, according to CardWeb.com. The average interest rate runs in the mid- to high teens, according to the Web site.

Muldoon said the soaring costs of their nine credit cards left them with two options: Either file for bankruptcy or make a drastic lifestyle change. They opted for the latter, she told KUSA.

"We changed everything ... to bare-bones minimum," Muldoon told CNN. "Basically, if it wasn't essential to support life, we didn't do it."

The Muldoons are part of a national trend in easing off credit card use.

Total consumer borrowing fell 3.5 percent in February, from the month before, according to the Federal Reserve. A government report shows the tumble in consumer credit was caused by a sharp decline in credit card use. The ailing economy and controlled spending caused by unemployment have contributed.

Muldoon said she found a way to make money by doing extra jobs, including teaching fitness classes at night and cleaning office buildings on the weekends. Video Watch Muldoon describe how she whittled away at debt »

"Dan says I'm obsessed. I prefer the term 'focus-driven,' " Muldoon told KUSA. "There were times last winter when dinner was white rice and gravy. That was what there was. We weren't starving to death, but I can't tell you the last time I had a steak."

Muldoon said the quest to save money extended to the party, which she hosted using items that were either on sale or had been purchased with coupons.

No steak was served there, either: She used ham from "a couple of pigs" she raised last year.

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Despite the merriment, she had one regret: She had paid full price for the black balloons that adorned the party room.

"I had some anguish over that," she said. "But I moved past it fairly quickly."

All About Credit Card DebtColoradoU.S. Federal Reserve

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