The Journey to Freedom
Excited with the promise of having a plan to makeover my finances, I quickly dove head first into Financial Peace University, hanging onto every piece of information I was learning. I made the decision on the second night to never use credit cards again – and proceeded to cut them all up. I learned to make a budget and created a debt snowball, listing my debts smallest to largest and attacking the smallest one with every dollar I could squeeze from my budget. I quickly paid off my first debt and as I moved on to other debts, I could see the traction I was making. By the end of the year, I had paid $26,000 off in debt, which included all of my credit cards!
Then life happened – as it usually does. With my grandparents having some medical issues, I decided to relocate to Florida to take care of them. I was able to keep my job on a contract basis but the hours started to dwindle and suddenly my cash flow stopped. I still had my home (and mortgage) in Minnesota. Soon I had to stop paying on my home to preserve what little funds I had left. Job opportunities were still few and far between in Florida, which was still recovering from the 2008-2009 financial downturn. Finally after four months of searching, I found a long-term contract job. By that time my home was well into the foreclosure process with no hopes of getting the house back. I spent the Thanksgiving weekend in Minnesota with my family packing and moving my belongings into storage. Once I was able to catch up financially, the home had already been foreclosed and sold at auction. The motivation and hopeful spirit I once had disappeared.
I would like to say that I picked myself back up, dusted myself off and kept moving towards my financials goals. However, I found myself moving along in cruise control mode, coasting through daily life with no plan of attack. And even though I was not incurring any new debt, I wasn’t making any headway. I had lost my drive, my motivation, my dream that it was possible to be debt free.
Then in the summer of 2014, a challenge was raised in one of the Facebook communities I had joined. The challenge was to write down goals that we wanted to accomplish in the next five years and share it on Facebook. Something in my soul was re-energized again and the first goal I wrote was – To Be Debt Free. Writing the goal down and sharing it with the world now made me accountable to follow through – like I was renewing the vow I made when I watched my grandmother balance her checkbook back in 2010.
And so on March 5, 2015, I made my last debt payment – I kicked Sallie Mae out of the house! I remember crying as I shared the photo (seen at the top of this post) with the world. I had done what so many people had given up on. I had kept my promise to be financially responsible. The feeling that day was better than any I had experienced before and better than I could have imagined. All the hard work, the sacrifice, saying no to trips, experiences, material things – it was all so worth it in the end. At the beginning I ever thought this day would come and now that it was finally here, I could do nothing more than shout from the rooftops –
I’M DEBT FREEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!