In 2017, I moved from Tampa, Florida to Arlington, Virginia to join my boyfriend for what I thought was going to just be a casual adventure with my best friend.
What it turned out to be was a $187,000 debt payoff, soul searching expedition.
In short, I had a terrible car loan with tons and tons of negative equity ,student loans that I ignored for a long time, a mortgage and a small medical bill.
The most terrifying part- at the time of realization, I didn’t have a job.
Flash forward to now, I have paid almost everything off. The only thing I have left is $
13,000 $4,000 of my $40,000 student loan. Which, according to my plan, I will have paid off in May 2019.
So, if you are swimming in an ocean of debt and are feeling completely overwhelmed and hopeless- I have been there too! And I want to help you.
There are a few things you need to do:
- Step 1- List all of your debt
- Step 2- Create a plan that works for you
- Step 3- Set small goals
- Step 4- Find a support system
Step 1- List all of your debt
It is not a great feeling if you have $12,000 worth of credit card debt, a monster car payment or (if you were like me) a massive student loan repayment.
This is by far the hardest and scariest part- so if you are able to get this part done, you’re in a better position already.
Here is an example of what my list looked like:
current repayment/ month
To be honest, I knew I had all of these debts but when I added all of it up together, I realized that I had a much bigger problem than I realized. I also knew that if this could happen to me, it could happen to anyone.
Now, I’ll admit, I did have a day or two where I wallowed, felt sorry for myself and was in an absolute panic. Then, it was time to do something about it and the only thing to do was to create my new action plan.
Step 2- Create a plan that works for you
Everybody comes from a different situation, so there is not a “one plan fits all” suggestion that I have but I do have some suggestions to get your mind thinking.
- Look over your budget ( if you don’t have one, now is the time to make one- here is a free template of mine if you need help) and see what/ where you can cut back
- Do you have someone that can help you? I was lucky enough that my boyfriend, Denis was more than willing to help me by covering our rent and living expenses while I pay my debt back.
- If you need to still make more money, what are some side hustles you can do? I am all about the side hustle- I am a teacher and currently bring home about $2,400 a month. I side hustle an extra $600-$700 a month in order to make massive loan repayments.
- Is there anything you can sell? Decluttering is my favorite thing to do. If you don’t use it, sell it!
So my plan of attack went like this:
- Sell house- thankfully it appreciated in the short time I owned it, so I made money off the house.
- Take the money from the house to come upright on the car and then sell the car
- Use the rest of the house money to pay off the credit card
- Attack student loans ←- this is where I am currently.
Step 3- Set small goals
Having a hefty goal is admirable but realizing that your lofty goal needs to have a few pebbles along the way so that when you’re in the middle of the lake, you can take a moment to look back and celebrate how far you have come.
Most people who run marathons don’t just wake up one day and decide to run 26.3 miles. They build up to it. They run for a mile for a week, 2 miles the next and they increase their goals are they go.
We seem to be fine with settling physical goals, relationship goals and even career goals; but when finances come into play, all goal setting ideas seem to get muffled a bit. We see the debt that we owe, the pennies that we earn and then just turn into a flustered mess.
Financial goals are the same as any others- you need to work in small celebrations to keep you going!
For example: I have been working on paying off my monster student loan. I started with roughly $40,000 in the hole.
I was a classic mess of constantly deferring payments or making minimum payments.
Finally, after almost a decade of running from my problems’ I decided to take it head on (with the help of my boyfriend, Denis).
Flash forward to now- February 2019 and I am planning to make my final payment in May 2019.
So, how have I done it? It’s simple- baby steps.
Once I committed myself to really doing this, I have put every single extra dollar that I could toward my loan. Anything from unexpected birthday money, bonuses at work and tax refunds all went straight to the loan.
Then, it seems all at once, the debt has just slowly started to disappear- and it is an amazing feeling!
Step 4- Find your support system
So paying off debt sucks. Doesn’t sound great but it is the truth.
Getting your glorious paycheck on Friday and then having to turn around and pay all of your collectors to be then left broke at the end of it is not fun at all.
Which is why finding someone, somewhere to turn to for encouragement is vital.
Because as much as you hear that paying down debt can be invigorating- it can also feel frustrating and lonely.
Especially, if you don’t know anyone else who is going through the same circumstances. (Or you might but because people are shy to talk about money, you might not know about it)
Lucky for you, there is an amazing whole interconnection of people all over the world that are going through the same exact thing you are! Same fears, struggles and feelings.
If you are serious about your debt payoff, then I would like to invite you to the community that has helped keep me accountable and a positive attitude about my payoff journey. It is such a nice and refreshing feeling to talk to other people (even if they are just internet friends) about common goals and interests.
To be able to share that you made a massive payment or you have hit a payoff milestone and have other people celebrate with you- is an incredible way to help reach your goals.
Until next time.