I was a sucker to consumerism. I believed that if I owned expensive clothing, handbags, and shoes, it would reassure my happiness and self-worth. I cared about how others viewed me; it mattered so much that the moment I was old enough to apply for a credit card, I did. Having a credit card meant that I could buy whatever I wanted, no matter the cost.
My first credit card had a $1200 limit that I maxed within six months. Of course, my original plan was to use the card wisely, but every time I saw something I liked, I’d couldn’t help myself, and would buy it.
I knew when I had maxed out my first card; it wouldn’t be a good idea to apply for another. In less than a year, I maxed out two credit cards. I knew I had a shopping problem; I was eighteen years old and naive. I did not think of the consequences and told myself that I was going to pay it off eventually.
By the time I was twenty-five, I had maxed out seven credit cards and about $20,000 in debt– I was deeply enslaved. In 2016, I was paying nearly $1000 a month on credit card payments. As time went by, I had hoped that the balance would lower, but it didn’t.
See the thing about credit cards is, you must pay each month to keep your credit card accounts in good standing. A minimum payment is calculated based on your credit card balance, which is usually two to three percent. The minimum amount on a credit card is small compared to your overall balance. It’s also recalculated each month. This means that the average credit card balance can take over a decade to repay with minimum payments alone — and you’ll pay hundreds in credit card interest during that time.
After years of non-stop payments, I was drowning further and further in debt. Something had to give, especially since I had taken a significant pay cut for changing careers. While I was able to afford to make payments with a teacher salary, it was not possible with my current salary. So I did the smart thing and searched for ways to get out of debt.
How did I get out of debt? Below I list six-ways:
National Debt Relief is an organization dedicated to helping individuals and families get rid of debt. They help re-establish financial stability as quickly as possible. They specialize in debt settlement and negotiates settlements for thousands of creditors and collections accounts with the least possible cost, as an alternative to bankruptcy.
2. Stop spending unnecessarily and stick to a budget.
One of the biggest reasons people are in debt is due to spending their money on things they can’t afford, hence why they’re in debt. As hard as it may and will be, you have to stop spending. Stop wanting to buy things you know can’t afford; instead, create a budget plan and stick to it.
3. Make a list of all your essential foods and personal items.
By creating a list of your essential foods and personal items, you know how much you’ll spend, gives you a fixed number to put aside every month, and help you stick to your budget.
4. Setting aside $20 everytime you get paid
Let’s say you get paid bi-weekly; If you save $40 a month, you will save over $480 by the next year–the more you save, the better. But, even by keeping aside a small number of your earnings, you could spend it any way you’d like because it is your money, not credit.
5. Use your imagination or do something recreational.
Paying off debt means that you will have to sacrifice doing what you love to do most– spending your money. It is essential that you find other things to do to distract you. The best way is by doing things that use your imagination, or that is recreational, such as reading, writing, painting/water coloring, cooking, exercising, biking riding, hiking, and so much more.
6. Read the books: Living Well Spending Less and 31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero
Living Well Spending Less by Ruth Soukup is an inspiring book full of step-by-step instructions and spiritual wisdom. She is authentic and honest as she shares her journey from spending a lot to discover life is better when it’s simple and with fewer things. She is like a teacher educating you how to manage your spending. Ruth is transparent about her own mistakes and leads you to reevaluate your priorities.
Ruth’s 31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero. It is a book that challenges you not to spend by decluttering your living space, gathering innovative ideas by using items you already have on hand, and learning simple tricks and tips for selling your stuff, slashing your bills, and even saving on food. It is a book that can genuinely change the way you live, making it simple and less overwhelming.
Getting rid of your debt is something that you should commit to as soon as possible. Once you are out of debt, you will be free and no longer a slave to creditors. It will be a fantastic accomplishment.
How long did it take you to get rid of your debt?
About two years– I am still paying it off. I am 85% debt free.
How do you budget?
I use the Living well Planner which provides a budget plan section for every month. I calculate my monthly expenses and subtract that with the amount I make each month.
I am creating a PDF attachment that will include a budget plan!
Do you get to save more than $20 a month?
Absolutely, every month is different, ranges from $120 – $215.
What is the pay-cut difference between your teacher salary and your current job?
It was, $11,000, now its $7,000.
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