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Hi! I’m Lidia, In August 2018, my debt freedom journey was born out of a conversation with a mentor, at the time I had intentions on returning back to school to pursue a career as an Occupational Therapist (that is no longer the case). He asked me a series of personal questions: “Do you have a savings account?“, “Do you have debt? “ My response was yes, but the awakening question was “Do you have money in this savings account?”. No, I have no savings, I have debt, I am living paycheck to paycheck maxing out every credit card I owned. What now? Well, I ordered right on the spot The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins and Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. My mentor told me as your Hispanic brother, we must look out for our own, I am paying it forward with you.
He doesn’t know that he planted a seed and it was set to blossom. So what now? I created an excel sheet and faced the hardest truth that I’ve avoided, my debt number. Woo! I could not believe what I was seeing a mixture of consumer, student, medical debt. I had $30,106 of debt. I saw that number and like that one, ex that, you don’t ever want to see. How does one start? Here how I started:
- Pick a debt method: I choose the snowball debt, debt repayment that focuses on repaying your debts in order of smallest to largest.
- Eliminate unnecessary expenses:
- My car was my BIGGEST expense, it was more a luxury than a necessity. I live in NYC, the city that gets you anywhere by train. And at that, it was leased. I gave up my car in September 2019.
- Deal with my natural bare nails and toes, another luxury, and practice to love myself as I am.
- Stop my weekend outings to bars and eating out. Learning to say no to events with friends and family. More cooking at home.
- Luna, my beloved pup, no more luxury monthly grooming sessions, and bark box. She’ll be okay.
- Shopping, I gave my closest friend all my credit cards like this they are not easily accessible to me.
- Set a budget for my living expenses which included housing, phone bill, and food. Stick to my budget on all categories. Create a budget for every paycheck and account for necessary living expenses.
- Pay more than the minimum:
- Many of you reading this can relate to this exact statement. The minimum ain’t it! Pay MORE than the minimum. I had all payments on auto bu,t was only paying the minimum.
- Find a community to support, motivate, and keep me accountable: I found a community on Instagram pages documenting their journey. On the meetups app, I found support groups that scheduled weekly meetups. Changed my social media to reflect my journey and share with the world my journey and most vulnerable of all my debt numbers.
- Increase my income: I calculated how long it would take and 2 years is not what I expected nor wanted. I had one year of a goal and I needed to get a side hustle to accomplish this. I am fortunate that my employer offers overtime and I was able to take on more tasks to allow for overtime.
I continued with this momentum and enthusiasm until December 2018, when I felt being broke. In the various months to come, becoming debt-free was still a lingering idea to get back to, June 2019 at my new job I was lucky to have a financial advisor as a colleague who avidly spoke to us all on eliminating debt and taking advantage of retirement accounts now! He brought me back to my journey along with my colleagues who knew of my story. Being able to have support and motivation at work was what led me to continue my debt freedom journey. Having the foundations in place made it easier to transition back to my journey. This time around I was not looking back and I was more than ever fueled. My debt freedom date was June 20th, 2020.
I was able to become debt-free ahead of time and declared victory on May 15th, 2020.