Debt. Most of us in America have it, whether from credit cards, loans, college tuition, medical bills or all of the above, debt becomes a reality from a pretty young age. Luckily I went to college in Canada and have always had decent health insurance, so compared to a lot of my friends and family members I have relatively low debt. However, it is still a thorn on my side or a pretty dark cloud threatening to rob me of my peace.
Like many, my relationship with debt started in my teens, when I got my first credit card offer letter in the mail. My parents, as much as they tried to give me the necessary tools to survive and thrive as an adult, failed to properly teach me the importance of credit and money management. As soon as I received the credit card I went to the mall and shopped as if I actually had money, and whatever credit I had left I used to buy college books and supplies. A few months later, with a small part-time job that brought minimal income, the balance on my credit card remained high and soon enough, the creditors came knocking.
Fast forward to the present, now a thirty something year old professional, I am much more financially literate and mature, but having to start over as a divorced single parent a few years ago set me back a bit and I now find myself again with credit card debt that I have made my goal to get rid of sooner than later.
To tackle this goal, I first made use of data visualization by listing and tracking my expenses on an Excel spreadsheet. Once I saw where my money was going each month I decided to make some changes like eating out a bit less, getting rid of my cable, taking home-made lunch to work 3 out 5 days and using the extra money saved to increase my credit card payments. I also started a “side hustle” with plans to put 80% of the income generated into paying off my credit cards.
My aim is to pay off at least 90% of my debt by the end of 2019 and to keep me honest and accountable, I will be sharing updates with you here. To keep me motivated I will go out and have a glass of wine or martini after every paid-off account.
Debt is a burden, a shackle that keeps us from making major life decisions, enjoying our lives or sleeping soundly at night. I am willing to and excited about making a few minor short term sacrifices this year so that in the long run I can live more fully and leave a legacy of freedom to my children.
Here’s to living debt-free God willing!