Hi everyone – today we have a guest post from Amy over at Working Moms World on her debt pay off story. Thank you so much for the post, Amy!
I would like to thank Duke of Dollars for providing me such a great platform to feature my interview.
As you asked me to share my story first, I would like to interpret my debt payoff journey:
Here is my $88,000 debt payoff story
I am Amy Nickson, a loving daughter of a single mom. My mother was the only bread earner in our family. She gave me a good life, a shelter, and helped me to become a good person.
When I entered my college, I started using credit cards to manage my living cost. But very soon, I found a boyfriend and started living a bizarre life. We preferred Starbucks for the morning latte and pricey restaurants for fancy dinner. We planned several car trips and parties with friends too. The credit cards were the medium to fulfill every means of lavish desires.
Time flew away. After I completed the graduation, I got a small job as a writer in a consultant agency. My boyfriend asked me to buy a car. I bought an expensive car to impress my friends. My mom wasn’t happy as I bought the car by taking out an auto loan.
In the meantime, my mom was diagnosed with a severe disease (liver cancer). The time was really hard for me. My mom was in a hospital and my boyfriend wasn’t there. He left me and the place to settle in a different state after joining a new job.
My mom didn’t recover, after 15 days of suffering, she died.
From Jack — kudos to Amy for overcoming such a heartbreaking ordeal while her significant other abandoned her when she needed it most. Tragedy is often a test of human character, and Amy’s story is testament to hers.
An Interview: How I killed the debt demon and become financially disciplined
The time was absolutely horrifying. My mom told me on her deathbed that “Baby, please try to be an organized and established person in life”.
But, it wasn’t possible because I had to pay off $88,000 credit card debt, auto loan, and student loan.
Losing my mom was like losing the shelter for me. There was no one who can console me and guide me during that intense situation.
I had no clue what to do; I didn’t want to lose my house.
A few days later, I called John, my friend who is the owner of a financial consultancy for help.
He advised me to get rid of the highest interest rate credit card debt first.
I saved a small amount while doing the job. So, I opted for the debt settlement program and paid off $16000 credit card debt which had the highest interest rate.
But, I couldn’t afford the settlement program anymore as I had no big savings and my salary was too low. I had to manage my living cost on my own as well.
Boosting income by hustling on the side
John told me to boost my income so that I can get some extra money. I started searching online to find out a side hustle that suits me better. Since I love writing, I picked some freelance writing projects. I started earning some extra money.
As per the instruction of John, I started following the debt snowball method to pay off my rest of the debts ($35000) on my own.
Since I was following the debt snowball method, I had to target the lowest interest rate credit balance first and make larger payments on that while paying the minimum to the other debts.
I did the same and paid off the lowest credit card balance. I followed the same method (debt snowball) until all my credit card debts were paid off. I paid off the huge credit card debts within 3.5 years.
In the meantime, I learned how to live within my means.
Since the auto loan was beyond my affordability, I decided to sell my car to pay off the loan.
To get rid of my student loan debts, I followed the extreme money savings method so that I could pay a little extra for my debt. I did the same and pay off my student loan after 3 years. It took quite a long time for paying off all the debts. But I am happy as I paid off the debts on my own.
Question & Answer Session
1. If you reflected on the very moment you’re writing this post today, tell us your story – how did you get you get where you are?
Answer: Currently, I am an absolutely debt free person and living a peaceful financial life. I am grateful to the Almighty for giving me the chance to begin the financial journey afresh.
The debt journey was the turning point in my life. The journey helped me to learn a lot of financial lessons.
2. When did you have an epiphany moment to get in gear towards building a financial kingdom for yourself and your family?
Answer: Well, I Just started my family. I got engaged with my friend John at the end of the last year. I must agree that the guidance that I got from John was life-saver for me. He guided me and made me strong at the most intense phase of my life. John and I are working hard to build an emergency fund and soon we will start investing for our financial future.
3. What are your big motivators for building a financial kingdom and achieving FIRE?
Answer: For me, the debt payoff journey worked as a real motivation to start a new financial life again. I was doomed with $88,000 debt. When I successfully paid off the smallest credit card debt on my own, I really felt good. A sense of confidence grew in me. I went to my mom’s graveyard to share my feelings. I was determined to pay off all the debts on my own.
4. When looking at the kingdom roadmap which milestone are you currently working towards?
Answer: Well, I just paid off my debts. Now I am trying to build a fat emergency fund so that I can overcome any unforeseen expenses. Also, setting aside money into a savings account and in a self-directed ROTH IRA. Recently, I bought a small car with cash.
5. Have you faced any challenges while working towards financial stability and how did you adapt to them?
Answer: Well, for me low wage salary was the biggest challenge. I wanted to get out of my debt problem, but to do so I had to have a lot of money. Otherwise, bankruptcy was the only option for me. But I was determined to save my house. My mom struggled a lot to buy that shelter for me. I worked really hard to earn some money by doing the freelance writing projects. Soon, I started earning a good income and it helped me a lot to put the extra money toward my debts.
6. If you met someone who was just starting out on their journey towards building their kingdom – what would be your advice to them?
Answer: Budgeting; yes, it is the only weapon to kill the debt demon. And when you will kill the debt demon, you are free to build your financial stability. Budgeting not only helps to track your money, it also helps to pay off your debt. How?
You need to consider debt, loan, and other bill payments as your basic expenses. Consider them as mandatory expenses and put them in your budget.
You may have to cut down extra expenses. If you still not able to afford those mandatory expenses, then you have to boost your income. By doing so, you can easily be able to make debt payments without opting costly debt relief services.
7. What differences do you see between yourself now and yourself 10-years from now?
Answer: 10 years ago I was totally Mama’s girl. I was a pampered kid then. My mom treated me like the most precious possession. She fulfilled every means of enjoyment. But, as soon as I entered college, I started living an extravagant life. As a result, I accumulated a lot of credit card debts. And the debt payoff journey transformed me totally. Now I know the pitfall of using credit cards randomly. Also, I know living my life beyond my means can spoil my financial future.
I have adopted some really good financial habits to secure my financial future:
- Following a budget
- Eliminating junk expenses
- Setting aside money
- Eating at home
- Planning small trips
- Building am an emergency fund
Currently, I am enjoying a debt-free life!
Blogging / Writing Questions
8. What motivated you to begin writing about personal finance and starting a blog to share with the world?
Answer: Writing was always my passion. I joined my first job at a financial consultancy as a writer. It helped me to gain financial knowledge as well. When I had to earn some extra money, I decided to work on writing projects. After doing several freelance writing projects, I decided to leave my full-time job. I started doing blogging and freelancing as a full-time work. Currently, I am working as a freelancer and a contributor writer for the Oak View Law Group.
I started my own blog where I mostly share my personal finance insights. I dedicated my blog workingmomsword.com to my sweetheart mom.
9. What are one or two top lessons or some advice you could share on building a great blog like yours?
Answer: I just started my own blog. It is still very small. I have to work on it more. Due to work pressure, I don’t get much time for my own blog. But I try to post 2 articles in a month.
- “Content is the king”. To build a good blog, you have to write good articles. Also, you need to post the articles consistently.
- You need to keep a comment section below the posts so that the readers can leave their comments. Make sure you build good relations with your readers by giving answer to their reply.
- You have to promote your articles on the social media platforms to get more exposure.
10. What was the process of when publishing your first eBook and how long did it take you to do so?
Answer: To be very honest, I didn’t work on an eBook. Well, I can write 3000 words per day. I think a professional writer can complete an eBook project within 1 week or more.
11. Have any other ideas, thoughts, or advice you would like to share with our readers? The floor is yours!
Answer: The extreme difficult financial situation helped me to become financially educated. Being a pampered child, I never realized the importance of living an organized financial life. I felt agitated and helpless when the situation demanded to save every buck.
Financial lessons that I learned from my debt payoff journey are as follows:
- As I said earlier, you have to follow a budget first. It is the key to avoid accumulating further debt. Once you follow a budget. you can easily deal with your bills.
- You shouldn’t ignore your credit card bill payments. Remember, credit cards are convenient but they are dangerous. Credit cards encourage you to spend more. But, if you don’t make the payments within the stipulated time, you will be in debt soon.Thus, you shouldn’t buy thing using the credit cards that you can’t afford in cash. Carry cash to stay within your means.
- Save money as much as possible. It will help you to avoid taking out costly personal loans, auto loans, or payday loans. Try to set aside money to buy an item. I did the same while buying my second car. I saved the entire amount and buy the car without taking out a loan.
- Prioritize your debt repayment goal. It will help you to focus on other financial goals like saving for retirement, making investments, or buying a house. Thus, you should try your best to get out of debt first. To do so, you have to pick the right debt repayment method. There are many debt repayment options. Some are professional and some DIY debt relief methods. Analyze your financial situation and choose the right debt repayment option that suits you best.
- Save whenever possible; this is the key to payoff your debts. The extreme money savings strategy is really helpful for people who are struggling with multiple debts. I rented my garage when I sold my Volkswagen. Since I was the only person in my home, I rented a portion of my home. It helped me to earn some extra money every month. I stopped partying, splurging, and eating out. Just like me, you can also earn extra and save extra by adopting a frugal lifestyle.
Lastly, I would like to thank you John for supporting me and My mom who told me to live an organized life. Well, debt free life is fantastic. I hope I will never fall in to the debt trouble again (Pray).