I was SICK of being in debt.
And was more than ready to stop the financial anxiety.
I was SO over being scared for my future and how devastating if could be if anything were to go wrong.
The thought of not having an extra penny to help yourself or your loved if something were to go wrong was not exactly a comforting one.
Just a few months back, I owed over 10k+ in credit card debt. And the interest and bills grew month after month, because of only being able to make the minimum payments (sometimes not even that).
It was a combination of overdue college expenses and too many credit cards, among other collections bills I had racked up over time.
But lets rewind a bit.
Let’s start from the actual beginning.
How the heck did I dig myself into this hole in the FIRST place when I thought I knew better?
That’s honestly still a question I ask myself today. And I really don’t know the answer. I think it was simply one tiny (really tiny) bad habit led to another, which led to another, which then lead to ANOTHER. You get the idea.
Now granted, I’m well aware that a growing pile of $10k+ in debt isn’t the same as being in $50k in debt or $100k in debt, which is the reality for MANY of us.
But at the end of the day debt is debt.
And for me, one of the worst feelings you can have is feeling insecure about what might go wrong in the future and having the constant waking thought every day of the week that you OWE someone something that you have no way of paying back.
On top of that all the ‘what ifs’ that can drive you kinda crazy (or really crazy).
It puts you in a tough spot financially, but even more than that, I’d say it puts you in a bad spot mentally. And if you can’t function mentally because you’re too crippled by anxiety and depression over your current situation, then it’s just a recipe for disaster.
That’s in part why I decided to write this post.
I’m trying to be as candid as possible, no blinds attached, and share my personal finance journey (which is FAR from perfect by the way, still learning over here).
This way, if you’re reading this, you KNOW you are not alone, and that there are many others alongside you struggling with the exact same problems.
Money problems. They aren’t pretty, they hold you back, and they downright steal your peace of mind.
The good news is that you CAN do something about it.
Isn’t that AWESOME?
I’m sorry if I’m sounding a bit cheesy here, but man, when you decide that YOU’RE in control and that your financial freedom is completely up to you, that is EMPOWERING.
You are not helpless. You are smart, capable of better decisions, and MORE than able to get yourself out of crippling debt for good.
I wish someone would have said those words to me in my own journey.
Now here’s where I’ve got to say I have a big issue with patience. I AM SO impatient, and my SO has pointed it out and it’s something I’m currently working on getting better at.
I FULLY believe you can go from being an absolutely impatient person to a patient angel (well not quite like that, but something along those lines).
Why do I randomly bring up patience? Well, because you’ll need A LOT of it if you’re serious about getting out of your spinning wheel of death debt.
It took me about a year and a half to work myself to the point where I could pay off my debt in four months (and start an emergency fund).
And you’ve guessed it. It was through this blog that I was able to do that.
Not to worry, I am NOT about to pitch you a ‘how to start a blog’ shpeal. If you ARE interested in that, there are a couple posts on the blog that you can go through and search for yourself if you’d like to learn more.
But I want this post to be of encouragement to you today to fight your ever growing debt and nothing else!
Let’s dive in.
The Technicalities Of Paying It All Off
First thing I did was call ALL of my credit card companies and a couple of other outstanding debts and get an exact amount of how much I owed, due dates, and what the APR was for each amount.
Then I wrote them all down in order and looked at which one made sense to pay off first.
Some of the smaller debts I was able to pay in one lump sums, while some of the bigger debts I had to pay in chunks (all in about four months).
Because I had started a business (this lifestyle blog) a while ago and had worked on it a TON I was able to make ad money through it that helped me tackle my debt in that short period of time.
This is to show that working towards paying off your debt starts WAY before you’re even ready to start putting cash towards them sometimes. You have to motivate yourself to work extra on the side to see that extra money come in (all while cutting all the expenses that you can).
It can take a while, there’s always a learning curve. But you’ll end up a much better and stronger person on the other side.
How I Kept Expenses Low
For the most part I would say I’m not a HUGE spender. I don’t really go out of my way to get fancy things. I simply feel like I don’t need them.
What I DO tend to splurge on is food though (can you relate?) So I had to make a very conscious decision to avoid the vending machines at work, and pack hearty food that would keep me full.
What did this mean?
This meant I had to spend some time either on Sundays or in the evening through the week creating a quick meal (sometimes to last me a couple of days).
Changing my eating habits meant I practiced discipline more often, which led to making sure I watched every penny a lot closer.
I Got Serious About Working Extra On My Free Time
This meant I wasn’t going to take this blogging thing like it was a leisurely walk in the park. I got serious about working on it everyday even though I came home tired from having to deal with customers for 8 hours (I worked in retail at the time).
But even though it didn’t feel like it then, as I was working slowly and creating more and more and building it up to bring in more income, I knew it would pay off in the near future.
This Limited How Much I Went Out
This one was easier to do than I thought. Because instead of the decision to focus more on growing my small side business this meant I had less time to spare on idling about.
I had to be more careful about what I said yes to and besides that, I was so exhausted after coming home and working on what was basically a second job that saying no to going out wasn’t so much of an issue anymore.
So my exhaustion worked in my favor in that department at least.
Thrifted More Whenever I Needed It
I also picked up the habit of thrifting more. For example, I like the look of worn t-shirts that fit nicely that you can combine with a lot of different pieces of clothing.
Why pick one up at Target for $18+ when I could just go to the thrift store and pick one up for $2?
How I Kept A Good Money Mindset Through It All
You have to keep in mind, sometimes you have to scale certain mountains because there are others ahead that will be even greater challenges.
But greater challenges always come with even greater payoffs.
Paying off all my debts taught me to be not only more careful with my money but more importantly with my habits.
Talking to yourself helps…seriously. That’s what I did while I was in the midst of paying off my debt.
Talk to yourself and visualize what it will be like to be out of debt and not owe anyone a cent. Now, I don’t want you to think that I’m talking about some mysticism or something when I suggest you visualize yourself out of debt.
But when you’re in the middle of paying it all off, its a constant daily battle, and visualizing a happy ending over and over and over again simply keeps you motivated to reach that goal.
I’ve found that this works for LOTS of things in life. Really anything that has to do with the personal goals that you set for yourself.
How I Keep Out Of Debt Currently
We all know that you keep up a good habit, you have to work on maintaining it daily.
Organize my credit cards better
For starters, I threw away all the ones I didn’t need (about three) and designated one for personal expenses and another one for business expenses.
Also, one big problem I was having was forgetting the due dates for each one. To make it easier on myself I took a sharpie pen and wrote a date on the back of each one. That way I always know when I have to pay them off each month.
Work first, prize later
I try my BEST not to get something pricey without having the cash NOW only because I have access to a line of credit.
It’s little habits like these that can get you nowhere and you start accruing more and more money you owe that you keep putting off for later.
Use my resources wisely
Now, instead of trying to guess at how something works in terms of money, or totally ignoring it all together because it feels too confusing to tackle, I try to keep a running list of things I want to find out more about.
And anytime I have some free time, I’ll try and read up on the asnwers.
Bottom line: Educate yourself about money as much as you possibly can. Even if you aren’t interested in ever becoming a business owner, guess what?
You already are one!
Your family budget/your whole life is a running business. There are daily expenses and money being made each month.
It’s up to you for your personal ‘business’ to thrive and succeed and be profitable (money saved, investments made, emergency fund created, etc).
At the moment I’m in the middle of reading “Profits First” by Mike Michalowicz. It’s about transforming your business finances for your business no matter how big or small and changing the way you look at accounting so you can start being more profitable.
It’s a must read, especially if you own your own business, or plan to own one soon!
Money Saving Guide You Might Find Helpful
I’ve written a couple of posts on how to save money. These posts are to help guide you in the right direction and hopefully give you new ideas on how to save and how you can save.
Make sure you bookmark them and read them to help you on your own money saving journey!
Here’s My Message To You
You can do this. No matter how far into debt you are, what your current situation is, or how slow you go.
Brick-by-brick, little by little, you can start paying off all your burdensome debt. The secret is in starting, and starting now, starting today.
You are more than capable of getting out of debt and reaching your goals. Hopefully this post helped you see that.
Join the conversation below and leave a comment on how you’ll start tackling your debt today.