We’re so excited to share this guest post today from Jen at The Happy Homeowner. Sometimes, you have to go to extreme measures to pay off extreme amounts of debt, and she buckled down and did just that. It’s an inspiring story for anyone who is currently staring in the face of unopened credit card bills or overwhelming amounts of debt.
I’m not too proud to admit it: I used to be a complete financial disaster. I was the Princess of Interest and Queen of the Shredder. I spent my way into oblivion for a few years, and I had no intention of changing my high-roller lifestyle.
At least, that’s how I used to think.
While I can’t really explain it in detail, I simply had an epiphany one day while waiting in line to buy an armful of clothing that I had absolutely zero need for (nor did I have any business paying those prices!). It was as if the universe decided to reach out and give me one giant slap in the face: What in the world was I doing?! Why was I destroying my future for some frivolous, materialistic desires today that I’d regret tomorrow?
So I went cold turkey. I walked around the store to put everything back where I found it. Then I high-tailed it out of there, went home, and cried myself to sleep after spending hours digging through piles of unopened credit card statements, tallying up my debt totals, and creating my first-ever budget.
A few life changes that were already in the works eventually found me in Boston for grad school—with my $14,000+ credit card debt balance in tow. So there I was, about to embark on an epic Ivy League learning adventure—all the while being young, broke, naïve, and in debt up to my ears.
Sure, I could paint myself a victim and continue to shirk responsibility. Or, as I soon found myself doing, I could pull on my big girl pants and triumph by working my tail off to create a better financial future for myself.
When I moved to Boston, I had already secured a part-time job that paid all living expenses. I’d also negotiated a graduate assistantship, and I’d lined up part-time work at a local hospital as a patient observer (I was pursuing a Master’s degree in Psychology). Three jobs and full-time school…phew!
But it wasn’t enough. I did some quick calculations, and I realized that I could feasibly slay my debt dragon if I could just.bring.in.more.money. Talk about motivation! I became relentless in my pursuit of extra cash, and I stopped at nothing until I had found ways to make my zero balance dreams come true.
These came in the form of a part-time job in the system where I was attending school (score one for Tuition Assistance Programs that helped me get my grad degree for less than $500!), a part-time position as a brand ambassador, a part-time sales rep for a running accessory company, and some community-based teaching.
This was the phase of my life that I affectionately refer to as “Insanity.” No, I wasn’t working all of these jobs every single day, but there were weeks when I had something to do or some place to be to for all of them. I didn’t have much of a social life, but I found stress relief through a local running group.
The biggest motivating factor throughout all of this was watching my debt balances melt away. I continued at break-neck speed for almost 11 months before I began to slowly decrease my workload (some of these things I still do today but most are a fond memory at this point).
In August of 2008, I made my final payment, $1,277.25, became credit-card debt free. I have remained so ever since.
About Jen: Jen began The Happy Homeowner three years ago, where she writes about living a healthy, balanced life one cent at a time. Her latest project, Change Your Life in 40 Days is aimed at inspiring others to become the best version of themselves in body, mind, and spirit. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.