This blog explores the paradox between being a free-spirit who follows their wild, bohemian soul and being a Type A person determined to be financially responsible. Practiced in tandem, each creates a healthy and enriching future.
A little about me: I am a child of financial chaos. I come from a typical lower middle-class American family who could have easily had it all but due to little to no financial education, made some poor financial life decisions and lost everything to debt and it’s ensuing despair. Growing up listening to my parents stress and fight about money made me a lifelong saver. By observing my two grandmothers, I knew quite young that it was wise to save and be thrifty to have all that you wanted. If my parents had only had a financial buffer or safety net and lived within their means, it would have been the lifeline that they desperately needed. I vowed to never be in debt so that I could avoid those preventable stresses.
Debt-free is stress-free and it’s the only way to be.
As luck would have it, I was the first graduating class to graduate college at the onset of The Great Recession in early 2009. To make matters worse, I had $26,000 in student loans, I was about to be homeless with no family home to move back into to save money with my parents, and my family was broke with no means to help me. On top of it, I was completely burned out from college and family turmoil and completely averse to putting on a suit and going to work in a stuffy, uptight office. I had no choice but to do things a little differently.
My debt balance was more money than I had ever seen in my lifetime. I couldn’t understand it. It terrified me! I panicked and tried to ignore my debt missing 13 minimum monthly payments which wrecked havoc on my credit score and resulted in my debts being put into forbearance. This only added to the interest I owed so before I knew it I had a $34,000 ball-and-chain to lug around indefinitely. I had found myself in a painfully familiar place of fear and terror about the future and the world around me couldn’t be more inhospitable to a freshly minted 23-year-old with no white collar experience.
To cope, I did what any self respecting free-spirited individual would do during an international crisis: I hit the road. I GTFO. I ran as far into the hemorrhaging world as I could get at the time and continued ignoring my mounting debt until I’d done so much soul-searching that it became apparent that if I was ever going to be actually spontaneous and free like a always wanted to be, I would have to get my shit together! Like, yesterday.
So at 26, I set a goal for myself:
“Upon my 30th birthday, I would be 100% debt-free.”
This blog is my story about how I managed to harness my inner Type A tendencies to pay off over $50,000 in 3 years without sacrificing my free-spirited desire for frequent travel, adventure and spontaneity!
I hope you find my words helpful on your journey to find balance between your deepest whims and financial aspirations.