I stared at my bank account, wondering how I could have arrived to this point in time. I only had $5.28 in my bank account and just got hit on my credit card again with interest. While other people my age are buying houses and cars, I was going in debt buying things that are meaningless. I don't drive, I rent my home, and all I had to prove my worth was a pile of books and unused makeup palettes.
When I realized how far down the hole I was in financial debt, I decided I needed to change. So, I started to get rid of some things that I obviously wasn't using. The first thing I did was update my Mercari so I could sell everything I no longer needed on there. Then, I started to look for a different job that I could work outside of my normal fulltime hours. Anything so I could just pay off this stupid debt and get somewhere else in my life. I wanted to be able to afford a home one day, and I couldn't do that if I was drowning.
Within just a few months, I was further down the hole. It didn't matter how little money I spent throughout the week, I still was going deeper and deeper when things got rough. Financial gurus kept saying on the internet that all I had to do was work hard and the money would keep flowing. All I had to do was start a snowball budget and one day I would be able to afford the house I dreamed of owning.
Except, none of it was that easy. I was just a few steps closer to being sick and tired of being in debt, but my mind still wasn't in it. There were still so many things that were wrong outside of my finances that I had to fix first. I realized very quickly that financial freedom was a journey I had to endure through lifestyle changes that at the time I was not ready to follow through with yet.
It wasn't until I was $3,500 down the rabbit hole that I fully decided enough was enough. I no longer wanted to wonder where my next $100 was coming from. I didn't want to be eating ramen noodles every single day until I eventually die from sodium poinsoning. I no longer wanted to borrow money from my boyfriend to pay for stupid dolls or clothes I don't need.
Today, I am still currently $3,500 in debt, but my mindset is completely different than where it was six months ago when I first decided to go on a 'debt free journey'. The biggest difference from then and now is I feel more in control than I ever have of myself. I had been losing myself and control for years now, and it's finally time to grab the reins and pull.
What are my next steps in living a debt free life? Well, that's simple and it won't work for everyone. The biggest thing to realize about making life changes is they have to fit YOUR life. I kept living my life based on YouTubers who make millions of dollars per year on their videos and social accounts. Of course their debt was completely paid off and they were buying houses and Corvettes. I work a minimum wage job at a grocery store!
My first step to financial freedom was admitting I had a problem. And not just a cutesy problem that could be solved with a boba tea every one in awhile. No, I have a shopping addiction and it's time to control it. For some people, that may mean going to therapy. For me, it meant letting my vanity room get so disgustingly dirty that I felt like I was absolutely drowning in things. I then asked my boyfriend to hold me accountable, so I didn't just buy things I didn't need.
The second step was getting my debt at a better interest rate. All of my debt was on a singular credit card that just kept gaining more and more interest. I had started out with just a thousand or so dollars of debt, which should have been paid off in just a month or so at the time. But because I kept making stupid financial decisions, it went up and up and up with $70 of interest compounding every single month. When I received a credit card in the mail with a 0% interest rate for the first year and a small transfer fee that blows that $70 out of the water, I instantly jumped on the deal and transfered my debt over.
The third step was watching Caleb Hammer, who is the one person online who keeps me accountable when I am feeling at my lowest. Anytime I feel the need to go shopping or get Taco Bell, I just picture Caleb Hammer yelling at me to quit it and stop wasting my future on burritos and shoes. He really made me realize how stupid I was acting. But he also makes me realize that mistakes will sometimes happen, and as long as I hold myself accountable and change, it's not fair to be angry with myself for something I am in the process of changing.
The fourth step is letting myself heal and not holding myself to impossible standards. Am I going to screw up every once in awhile? Yes, I already have. I put money onto my credit card that was actually supposed to be taken out of my debit card. What did I do to solve this problem? I made sure to pay extra on my credit card when my paycheck came to balance out my mistake. I also said yes when my manager asked if I wanted to pick up a shift, even though most days I would tell her no. I'm also still allowing myself some nice things in life, because being completely miserable will just make me crave more until the temptation absolutely kills me. So, sorry Caleb, but every once in awhile (not everyday like how I used to!) I treat myself to something. Usually it's a $2 energy drink, but last week I went to the bookstore and bought myself a book I had been wanting.
Financial freedom isn't exactly here yet, but it's around the corner, and I truly believe that you can also take small steps towards your own freedom. Don't beat yourself up for debts that you already have, just learn from the mistakes of your past and understnad that change has to come one step at a time. You're going to go five steps forward and three steps back sometimes, and that's okay. I am $105 less in debt today, and I have plans to one day have enough money in my bank account to afford a down payment on a house. I'll get there one day, but it all is something I have to handle one step at a time.