You found yourself in piles of debt and being a workaholic. So what were you in debt for and why were you also a workaholic?
I was in debt mainly with school loans, trainings and also because I used credit cards for living expenses. I got into the habit of spending more than I was making so I was using a credit card every month.

What training? Who trained you to use credit cards?
It definitely wasn’t my family. But once I got into college and watched everyone around me I learned I could spend and use them and get whatever I wanted. I quickly fell into that same habit.

So it was a cultural thing? You felt like you had to fit in maybe?
Yeah, I did. I wanted to break out of what I grew up with and feeling like I always had less than everybody else and wanted to prove to everybody else around me that I was successful by looking like them and being like them. So I’d be the one buying dinners, paying for other people so that others would look at me and see me as successful.

You were being generous, trying to look successful by paying for dinner for people. Where did you get it in your head that success was paying for other people when you couldn’t actually afford it?
By the community I surrounded myself with. And in my head it was the way I had come up with to prove it. I felt like I had to show everyone that despite everything that had happened or what I’d experienced I was just as successful if not more successful than them. I had to show everybody by giving things away or by dressing like everyone or having the brand names and looking that picture of success.

How much debt was it?
It was over $100K… about $120K actually. I was 25 by the time I accrued that much debt and then started getting deeper each month

How’d it feel when you got the credit card bill?
Overwhelming. I actually ignored a lot of them, had a lot of late fees because organization is not one of my strong suits. I used that as an excuse to pile them under other things and would just let them sit there. I often didn’t pay them until I got the late notice because I didn’t want to see how bad it really was. And the weight just stacked up.

Your plan for debt was to spend and then ignore the bills?

When did it come crashing down?
I sold my house and was living in Baltimore. It actually ended up costing me $10K to sell the house and it drained any amount of savings I had. After that I was really looking at current bills and realized there was no way I was going to make it. I told myself you know this is exactly how your parents got into debt and here you thought you were better than them when in reality I was in much greater debt than they ever were. So I started looking for answers. The crashing around me was at that point and I had gotten into this business that I had no idea what I was doing with it.

I went to First Steps To Success in May, the Baltimore event. And it really just hit me like a ton of bricks.

Since coming out of First Steps To Success how much debt have you paid off?
I have paid of $30K in 9-10 months.

How does that feel?
Freeing, it’s a big weight lifted. There’s an answer and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not held down by what I can accrue. Now with the same veracity I was spending I am now paying things off, giving stuff away, selling things and wrapping my identity up in a more stronger more reliable infallible person.

Now you viciously go after paying things off instead of ferocious buying things, what do your friends say about that? Have you been telling them?
I do. I used to keep it a secret but now it’s humorous. I have one friend who is still speechless when she talks to me because she sees a huge difference in me and even in how I approach things. Other friends now invite me out and they’ll offer to pay for me because they know I won’t spend past my set limit.

You now budget how much you’re going to spend, whether that’s eating out or buying things? What is your new limit and how much did you used to spend eating out?
Now I spend $20 a month on eating out. I used to spend close to $150, if not more.

Has your life been hurt by not eating out?
No, quite the opposite. I eat a lot healthier and I’m much more picky when I’m eating out. Because if I’m going out I want it to be something good, something worth the money. Sometimes I’ll combine a few months together so I can go out to eat at a place I really want to go to.


Tags: budgeting   Client Stories   debt   money   

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