Last week I was reading a post over at Minimalist Beauty where Dawn Michelle (she’s got a great name doesn’t she? ) shared how she got out of debt with one of her readers. You can read the post here.
That got me to thinking. I share a lot about ways to have healthy hair and skin but what about a healthy bank account? If you’re deep in debt then you know it’s a real Debbie Downer to spend money on things you can’t afford. You’re left worrying about how you are going to pay the money back to Peter now that you’ve robbed Paul. You can’t even focus on enjoying the things that you spent your money on.
My Debt Story
For years I’ve struggled with living within my means. I would get into a few thousand dollars of debt then get out. Rinse and repeat.
What hurt the most (and this will surprise you) was having excellent credit. Excellent credit = creditors coming out of the woodworks tempting you with delicious 0% and high credit limit offers.
I allowed those temptations to lure me into buying all things beautiful: makeup, hair products, clothes and jewelry. When I finally got a hold of ceasing the expensive purchases, I started buying little things here and there. You know. Things like $5 earrings, $3 head scarfs and small personal care items.
These purchases lead me into a valley of debt I thought I’d never climb out of. But God is good.
Getting Help for Over Spending
3 times I got into and out of debt. Each time I vowed to never do it again but it was a vicious cycle that could only be broken by seeking help. I had to learn how to create and live on a budget. I had to learn how to say no to purchases that were outside of that budget.
Through all of the in and out of debt, not once did I pay my bills late. If you can help it, NEVER pay late. Even if all you can pay is the minimum payment, don’t miss it.
If you are ever in a position when you may need credit (ex: to buy a home), you won’t be able to get it – at least you won’t get the best rate.
But let’s not focus on getting in to any debt right now. The purpose of this post is to get out of debt.
Here are some helpful resources that may help you too if you’re struggling with debt or living within your means:
- Learnvest – This is by far the most helpful resource I’ve found. They offer free bootcamp courses to help you get out of debt, develop a budget and take control of your finances. You can even track all of your spending, saving and net worth on this site. The best part is most of their knowledge is free. If you decide you need a personal advisor, there are 3 paid plans to choose from. I purchased and am currently on the Core Plan. Check this site out. It’s invaluable.
- Credit Sesame and Credit Karma – These both monitor your credit score for free (by the way, Learnvest turned me on to these)
- Annual Credit Report – Once a year you can check all 3 of your credit reports for free. It’s important to know what debt is accruing in your name.
- Spend – an iPhone app to help you track your spending when on the go.
- Squawkfox – Personal finance blog that provides tips on frugal living.
I still have the occasional battle with debt. For example, last week I was out looking for a pair of gold sandals to wear for the 4th and somehow I wound up in Sephora on line with 2 bottles of bangin’ OPI glitter nail polish.
First off, Sephora doesn’t sell sandals. How did I get there? I’ll tell you how. I was feeling “entitled.” I was feeling like I just needed to take a look because I deserved some new pretty things. Oh really?
When, I recognized that I was caving into an emotional urge to spend I got off the line, put the polish back and walked out.
I shared that story to help you see that spending above your means has less to do with buying expensive items and more to do with buying things that are simply out of your budget. Most often that spending is emotionally related.
It’s taken some time to be able to say no to impulse buys and I don’t always win but my wallet and bank accounts are a lot healthier than they once were. Having a budget and being present when I’m spending money has put me on the right path to total debt freedom.
Debt can destroy you. If not your personal sense of worth, your livelihood and your future. I hope my story, these tips and resources can help you to get a hold off your finances and break up with debt once and forever.