You might not know it by looking at me, but four years ago, my life was very different from the one I live today. I owed $5,000 to my credit card—the result of a lifetime of poor spending habits that spiraled out of control after my mom passed away—$15,000 to a car loan, and $34,000 in student loans. Altogether, I had $54,000 in debt. Oh yeah, and I had overdrawn my bank account for the second time that month. Did I mention I was working as an intern making $12 an hour? I was out of control, or at least my finances were. I felt out of control. My life was spiraling down a hole I was afraid I would never be able to climb out of.
Fortunately for me, people can change. It started with a simple goal: I would pay off my credit card in 2014. Ah, yes, it began as my New Year’s resolution. I am one of those people who ties significance to time and numbers, which means each New Year inspires me to commit to something big. So few people actually complete their resolutions that they become more of hopes or aspirations—or worse, jokes and empty promises. In my case, though, I was scared and knew I had to make a drastic change in my life.
The goal to pay off my credit card in 2014 was just the beginning of my financial journey. By making small changes gradually over time, I was able to completely change my spending habits and my life. There were times when I slipped up, but I learned to view my mistakes for what they were: minor setbacks. Having a budget and a plan—and sticking to them—empowered me to pay back our debt. I was able to travel and cash-flow our dream wedding in Puerto Rico in the process! Today I stand before you, debt free and forever a changed woman.
Perhaps you will find value in what I’ve learned. I hope you will. I am going to be sharing my story, including all of the great resources that helped me along my financial journey, in a series of blog posts. I’ll also talk about coping with grief and loss, and dealing with a loved one who has dementia, as those topics have played a significant role in my life.