Have you ever thought your financial situation was too far gone? That your money was a mess?
I did. I mean peep some of the ridiculous money mistakes I made. <- This list is real. I played credit card roulette hoping to swipe my way to everything from chips and queso to eyelash extensions, gel nails and happy hour. The answer was always that I would make more money some day. I took on a second job, overtime and all the things I thought I needed to do to clean up my financial situation. I thought I could outearn my stupidity.
At my worst point, I was ~$94k in debt, stressed out and had suicidal thoughts. I had no idea where to start but I thought debt was the answer. I tried to do a balance transfer on a credit card with my new credit union. The rep said he couldn't help me. My debt to income ratio was too high and my credit wasn't that great. I broke down. He offered me the only financial product he could. To take out another loan on the car I had just paid off.
I refinanced my car and took a check to pay off my high-interest credit cards, specifically my care credit account that was a few thousand dollars at 25% interest. Clearing that account helped me finally gain some traction. I went about that way for almost 3 years. Trying to work more and make smarter big decisions like getting a roommate and keeping my car. But still made a million small terrible decisions like restaurants 4-5 times a week and happy hour after bad days in the emergency department. I tried to be better. I stopped carrying my credit cards. I turned off overdraft protection. I regularly checked my bank app and actually opened bills and paid them when I got them instead of sticking them in a box or on the table never to be opened.
I thought I was doing better. I made decent money. My credit cards weren't (completely) maxed out. I met my husband, who was a fiscally responsible saver who thought that thrift store decor and having five figures in savings was normal. I was a spender who had over $60k in student loans from two degrees, still had that reverse car loan and those almost maxed out credit cards. In addition, he didn't drink, at all, and rarely went out to restaurants, he had just sold his house on his own. How could I, a certified sorority girl and party school #2 graduate with a penchant for travel, clothes and dining out who yolo'd her way through an entire decade fall head over heels for that guy? Well, I did and I soon realized it was me, and not him, who had things wrong.
Sometimes I forget the second to last straw that broke this camel's back but it was a big one. I took a new job, and spent a week in between work engagements in Florida with family, thinking my PTO bank had my back. Only I didn't get paid when I was supposed to, and payroll at my old hospital was no help. I sat sobbing on my bed realizing that I was going be late on rent in my new fancy adult apartment. I had thought I had ended the late rent saga in my life but this payroll error had me unable to make rent for the next two weeks. Enter amazing boyfriend spotting my rent for me until my next paycheck. This independent woman was humiliated.
A few weeks later for his 28th birthday, I decided to bake him an ombre funfetti cake, as I had seen on Pinterest. I went to the store to buy a cake carrier because he lived 2 hours away at the time. I was trying to save money so I produced a coupon for the carrier. Only the cashier didn't ring it correctly, and I didn't notice until after I had swiped. He said he'd return the money to my debit card but he had to return and re-ring. After a decade in retail, I knew that meant it would pull from my account twice. Tomorrow being payday that could be a problem, so I protested and the cashier said it wouldn't pull twice. I believed him. I went across the street and bought all the bougie ingredients I could find. Sugar? No, I needed baking sugar. Eggs? Those have to be cage-free. etc etc etc. I went to check out with $40 worth of ingredients for my one cake. Swiped my card and DECLINED. There was a woman working the self-checkout and I had to try to explain to her that I needed to go back to my apartment across the street and get my credit card. Then I had to return to the store to be indebted on cake ingredients.
I had just started a salaried job a few weeks earlier. Didn't I make too much money to be this broke? I had a two-hour drive ahead of me the next day so I pulled up my audible account and bought two books, The Spender's Guide to Debt Free Living How I went from broke to badass in record time by Anna Newell Jones, and The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.
Anna talked about doing a spending fast for one year and not spending any money on herself for a year in order to get out of debt. I felt like she got me, and if she could do it, so could I. I needed to reset my terrible spending habits. To find a true baseline. A few days later I started my spending fast or #nospendyear. A few months after that I started my Instagram account which has been through a few name changes first @debtfreeby2020 then @ashsmashesdebt and now @ashsavingcash and I also found the #debtfreecommunity. And just a year and a half after starting the fast paid off $85,626 in medical bills, credit cards, a car loan and student loans.
Today my husband and I are working on maxing out a Roth 401k, an HSA and paying off our mortgage.
So believe me, if a girl who overdrafted on starbucks and kept her credit cards maxed out for nearly a decade can do this, so can you.
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