About two years ago, I was blessed with a promotion at the main employer and a pretty nice raise. I said to myself, “Good! I’m going to use this extra money to pay down my debt.” And well… that didn’t go so well. I had the right idea, but didn’t have anything behind it. I didn’t have a plan.
Fast forward two months later: I went to visit my girlfriend on a Saturday morning. Her roommate and roommate’s friend were about to watch the Dave Ramsey “Financial Peace University” DVD. The four of us watched it and it came to me: This is the plan I was looking for two months ago. I watched that first DVD and had all the motivation I needed.
I went home and looked at my checking account statements from the past three months and credit card statements from the past six months. I knew how much I was making, but didn’t really have a sense of where all my money was going. I was making more than I ever had, but had nothing to show for it. I was determined to change that.
From there, I made a budget. One side had all of my monthly income (and most of you know I work 18 jobs ‘mon) and the other side had all of my expenses… every last one of them. The main thing I got out of the Dave Ramsey video was I needed to allocate each dollar I made to something. If you don’t put what’s left over to savings, a defined expense or paying down debt, that leftover money will be spent (and most likely you’ll forget what you spent it on). Every single dollar must have a destination.
Now that I had a plan, that’s the easy part. The hard part is working that plan. My debts were in two credit cards and my car note. I took Dave Ramsey’s advice and started with the debt with the lowest amount, which was an AMEX that had over $4k in debt. Until the plan, I was paying the minimum payment (avg. $70-75/month). With the plan, I bumped it up to $250. Plus, if I had any leftover money from monthly budget or any bonuses from work, it would go to paying it down. By April 2012, the AMEX was paid off.
I took the money I was paying monthly on the AMEX and applied it to the VISA in addition to what I was already paying on it. At the beginning of the plan, the VISA balance was over $5k. By September 2012, it was paid off. Then, it was on to the big one… the $10k+ car note. I applied the same principle, adding the credit card amount to the established car payment. As a result, I was paying more than double the minimum payment every month.
Today, my last car payment cleared. I’m debt free. The ultimate birthday gift to myself.
I know my $20k+ debt may not seem like a lot to some people. Some of you have crazy student loan payments and kids tuition (or just kids in general)… all kinds of financial challenges. I’m just here to tell you that if you really want to be debt free, you can do it.
Just like anything in life… if you want it bad enough, you’ll do anything to make it a reality. You have to really want it, then plan it out and act. You can’t just talk about it. You must act.
I want to thank Nicole, Kenya and Stephanie for showing me that DVD that got me motivated to put together a plan. Without that, I’d still be paying the minimum payments on everything and wondering where my money went. That random Saturday morning literally turned around my financial future. I appreciate y’all for that.
I hope this entirely too long story can serve as motivation/inspiration to those of you who want to be debt free. You can do it and I’m certainly willing to help you (as my little brother can attest to) get where you want to be.
Thanks for reading!
Ten years. I can’t believe it’s been that long already.
On this date ten years ago, I packed up all my stuff and what was left of my graduation money, loaded up my old ’92 Camry and drove ten hours through the mountains in 90+ degree heat to the Washington DC area. For someone who was completely risk averse, this was the most drastic decision I had ever made in my life. All I had was a little over $600 and a bed at my aunt’s house.
I had no idea what I was going to do, but I was determined to work in media and put the degree I spent the last five years working on to use. Three days after my arrival, I started pounding the pavement. Less than a month later, I had my first real job at XM Satellite Radio.
There’s so many people who have come into my life during the past ten years… too many to name really. However, I want to specifically shout out two people.
Special recognition goes to Monica Parran. Thanks for passing my resume to the right people at XM. Without that, I may be back in Indiana with a totally different career path. You didn’t have to help me. Heck, you only knew me from “that site” (lol). You really looked out for me and I appreciate that.f
Also, special recognition goes to my guy Nate Gee. Only the Lord knows how you put up with me. I appreciate you inviting me to church six years ago. I called you looking for answers and you directed me to the only one who could answer. Without it, I don’t meet all the amazing (and crazy) folks at Zion, I don’t get involved with Remnant and who knows where I end up. I love you, my guy. I appreciate the person you are and are becoming. You are destined to do great things.
I came out here knowing only my aunt and now I have a tremendous group of friends and professional colleagues. Just know that no matter how big or small your part has been, I appreciate each & every one of you.