Live Your Legend Challenge #4 – What’s One Thing You’re Proud of?
I’m proud of getting myself out of debt and getting my finances under control. When I graduated from UConn in 2008, I had student loan debt, personal loan debt and a hefty credit card debt. In total it was over $60,000.
That might not seem like much – I’ve heard horror stories of people graduating with 6-figure debt – but this was more money than I’d ever owed (also more than I could even earn in a year at that point) and it was seriously upsetting when I realized how long it was going to take to pay it off. If I did nothing but pay the minimum on the credit card, I would be paying it for the rest of my life.
I bought a couple of financial self-help books and got down to work. I tackled the credit card debt first, and once that was out of the way, I focused on the personal loan. It took years to get it all under control. I actually still owe a little on my student loans, but at this point it makes more sense for me to keep my money in my savings account vs. paying off the loan early.
Getting my finances under control was awesome. When I owed more money than I was bringing in, I felt like I was drowning in debt. I felt very insecure – like the slightest unexpected expense was going to push me into poverty forever.
Coming up with a plan and sticking to it was really satisfying, especially as I saw the progress I was making. After a while, my nervousness about my financial stability subsided and I began feeling more confident.
It wasn’t an easy road. To really make progress I had to be very frugal with my money. No eating out, no impulse shopping sprees, no vacations to exotic locations. It was tough, especially when I saw friends on Facebook doing all kinds of stuff seemingly without a care. But it was worth the effort. Now I have a “sunny outlook” in my retirement account, I have an emergency fund, and I have more money in my savings account than I owe on my car or on my remaining student loan. Woo hoo, it feels good!
Dave and I were finally able to take a real vacation last year, which was awesome. We continue to be frugal with our finances. We do not want to have to struggle in the future, so we are working on planning, saving and being wise with our financial decisions. I am not opposed to taking out loans, but I learned the hard way not to just blindly build up a ton of debt and assume it will be easy to pay it off. And I’ve definitely learned to be more careful with credit cards!