Six Figures of Debt!

debt, money

Reminder: I am currently half way through my debt free journey so I am depending on my awesome memory for this story.

The Year Was 2009

I was sitting at my home computer browsing the community forum boards on The Knot and somehow I came across a post recommending a financial book. Since I have always been interested in personal finance I decided to read on about this suggestion. The book was, “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey. At this particular time, I knew nothing about Dave Ramsey and never heard of this book even though it came out in 2003. My first financial book was, “Girl, Get Your Money Straight! A sister’s guide to Healing Your Bank Account and funding your Dreams in 7 Simple Steps” by Glinda Bridgforth, so the interest has always been there. (Thanks Dad for picking it up for me in 2001) Other than that book, my other financial advisor in my head was Suze Orman. Dave Ramsey was definitely new to me but several community members was saying this was a good book.

Libraries have free books!

Due to a recent layoff because of The Great Recession which really hit the manufacturing industry I was out of work. I was also planning to get married, so finances were pretty tight in my neck of the woods. Therefore, there wasn’t a lot of extra spending going on so I checked it out from my local library. This book was so good and since I wasn’t working, I think I read it in two days. In my opinion, it was an easy read and it got me excited about getting out of debt FAST! Needless to say I didn’t get gazelle intense and follow the plan step by step otherwise today, 9 years later, I would surely be out of debt and not blogging about the remaining $50,000. (More to come on that in another post)

Enter The Total Money Makeover

The Total Money Makeover” consists of 7 Baby Steps. In baby step 2, I remember being instructed to total up all of my debt from lowest debt balance to highest debt balance, and create a debt snowball by paying the minimum payment on all other debts while throwing all extra money on the lowest balance. This process would continue as you pay off each debt with your snowball getting larger as you knock out each debt. I created my snowball, printed it out and then suggested to my then fiancé, (now husband) that once we get married we should live off one income and use the other income to pay off all of our debt. Yes, I was that fired up! Guess what? He said, “No” to that idea and honestly I didn’t push the issue, but I wish I did. I think he didn’t like my idea of cutting the cable off. Soon after, I tossed that snowball printout to the side and it was out of sight, out of mind. (Again, More to come on that in another post) From there, I continued being normal with my finances – didn’t create a budget, paid minimums on debt but I did carefully watch our wedding expenses.

We got married in May 2009 and I found a new job in October 2009 after being unemployed for 8 months. Then fast forward to May 2010, I decided to buy a brand new 2010 car. Yes, brand new but I never regretted purchasing my car which I still drive today. I financed it at 0.9% financing for 60 months and figured that was a great interest rate. Everyone I know, finances their cars for at least 5 years so that’s just what I did.

At this point, I was just living like most normal people with a car note,  monthly revolving credit card balances and student loans, but I knew that a change had to be made because so much of my income was going towards debt and I like to keep my paycheck. I don’t work to simply pay bills. Again, I don’t work to simply pay bills. There is so much more to life than working and paying bills. It helped that me and my coworker at that time, (Hi Glenda) would talk about saving money, paying off our debts, traveling etc. Then, one day I went online and created another debt snowball that calculated my debt free date and how much I would need to pay on each debt monthly for the plan to work. That is when I realized that I had nearly $100,000 in debt, not including our mortgage:

$20,000 in Credit Card Debt – Just shopping, eating out, charging whatever – you know just being normal.

$23,000 in Car Debt – I could “afford” the monthly payment and I deserved a new car – again normal.

$56,000 in student loan debt – Well, how else would I pay for college? Its normal to get student loans.

Immediately, I knew that something had to change because $100,000 in debt isn’t cute and if that’s considered normal, then I choose to be weird. Very weird!

“Debt is normal. Be weird.”
– Dave Ramsey

Stay tuned and I will discuss how I paid off $50,000 of my debt and Thank you so much for reading.

Let me know, have you read any of the books I mentioned? Do you plan to read either or both of them? Or please share a favorite personal finance book of yours in the comment section.signature

 

Permission Granted

book

If you are waiting for someone to give you permission to take control of your finances or any area in your life, well here you go! Ok, That’s a big statement to claim but follow along and see where this ends up.

I wrestled with starting this blog and the funny thing is that I wanted to start a blog since 2012 and actually did start one via Blogger or some other platform. Guess what it was going to be about? Travel and food, two of my favorite things! I was obsessed with food blogs at the time and my husband and I was in the process of moving to Richmond, VA. We figured it would be a great way to document our new life in Virginia, places we ate at, places we visited, etc. Needless to say, I didn’t keep up with that at all.

Then the idea of creating Sugar and Money to me because of my love for personal finance and I figured it would be nice to sprinkle in a little lifestyle (Sugar). It was still hard to bite the bullet but then I read, “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I will admit that the book started off a little slow to me and the more I read it, I thought that maybe this book really wasn’t for me. The subtitle is, “Creative Living Beyond Fear” and the more I read it seemed geared towards artists, writers, basically creatives and I don’t consider myself a creative. But, I guess I am now a Blogger so does that make me a creative?

The chapter which struck a cord with me was, “Permission”. That chapter was so good that I just about highlighted the whole chapter. No, really I did. It was that good! A few things seemed especially for me because I have a little fear around putting my personal actions as it relates to my financial life out on display for the interwebs. However, the lifestyle part should be fun.

The chapter titled, “Permission” reminded me of a few things: First, that we should be curious of things. Just like I am curious as to where this blogging adventure will go. Curiosity can be a good thing. Worst case, I will document my journey to becoming debt free and no one would read this blog. But, I will end up debt free so that really isn’t a bad ending, is it? However, I hope my bravery will encourage someone to take a close look at their finances and make changes that sweeten their life. It could be debt payoff, investing, proper insurance coverage, retirement savings, legacy planning, etc.

Then the following excerpts really spoke directly to me:

“If you’re supporting yourself financially and you’re not bothering anyone else, then you are free to do whatever you want with your life”

Can I get an AMEN? I support myself financially, purchased this domain, hosting, etc so I can do what I want with this blog and my life, correct? Yes, Thank you.

“Let people have their opinions. More than that – Let people be in love with their opinions, just as you and I are in love with ours. But never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else’s blessing (or even their comprehension) in order to make your creative work. And always remember that people’s judgment about you are none of your business. Lastly, remember what W.C Fields had to say on this point: ‘It ain’t what they call you; it’s what you answer to.”

Now if that isn’t some encouragement to live your own life, make your own decisions and be curious about where your actions will take you, I don’t know what is. Just think, this is only a couple snippets out of, “Big Magic” and even though it started out slow, it ended very well and my favorite section was “Permission”. I know I will reference this book again and again when I need some encouragement.

With Sugar and Money, I hope all my readers will see that they have permission to create and live their own life and with sweet finances. If you need a little encouragement to push past fear, I recommend reading, “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Comment below if you have read it or if you plan to pick it up.

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