*** disclaimer if you are someone who is sick of hearing about my financial journey, don’t want to hear about white girl money problems or just don’t care about this stuff – this post isn’t for you
I am gonna be honest with you living within my means actually kind of sucks.
Truly it does.
I never really lived outside my means – but I certainly didn’t think about the financial ramifications of my adventures abroad or the financial cost of post secondary while I took out loans and didn’t work my way through school.
It wasn’t until my mid to late thirties that I actually looked at my financial situation and thought “oh fuck, I am in some serious trouble!” but the panic – that was some time a few years later – maybe 4 years ago-ish. I started to notice that while I was paying my bills it wasn’t actually doing me any good. No progress was happening. Some of them had such a high interest rate that my payments weren’t really doing any good. I was barely paying the interest. I wasn’t paying down the body of the loan at all. Not only that – in some instances it was like I was throwing money away. Thousands of dollars.
I honestly wondered how it was even legal. I also realized that the more of a mess your finances become – the harder it is to claw yourself out. I know that sounds like a no brainer – but I legit mean the part where you start to get penalties for late payments and the non sufficient funds charges – the non stop calling for collection agencies and all the other stuff that make you feel like you are drowning in a super bad situation. No one will give you credit to consolidate and no one can help you. I remember a time when Dell used to call me 15 times a day. There was a time that Royal Bank charged me so many NSF charges and then added interest on that that I was negative $900 in my bank account and I didn’t have over draft.
I started to read a lot of financial books, listen to podcasts and realized that I needed to do something different. Drastically different. I really needed to take a handle on my money situation and somehow figure out a game plan where I wasn’t going to live the rest of my life in a mediocre, stressed about money, never having any fun kind of way. I also realized that marrying rich was probably not going to be an option.
I got myself into this mess, I sure as shit need to get myself out.
The financial snow ball.
When I started flying and my income changed is when I really started to make strategic moves and financial decisions. For the first time in a long time I could see a financial plan coming together. Early on I sat down and made a full repayment plan for my debts. It was a 3 year plan but something that I could feasibly do and I felt confident in my success. I actually started to budget and pay my bills first. Telling your money where to go before it disappears was better for me than – doing what I wanted and then trying to pay bills with the rest. I had to let my stocks vest an entire year, an entire year of putting 20% of my income in a fund (that got matched dollar for dollar) that I couldn’t touch no matter how hard it got. An entire year it took me to get used to living on less – all for financial wellness and debt repayment. I am not gonna lie it hasn’t been easy but I toughed it out – I sacrificed my social life to live off of less.
Want to know feeling low ?? Feeling low is being almost 40, single, barely making minimum wage and trying to claw yourself out of 60K worth of debt. All while putting 20% of that income away. Feeling low is seeing all your friends use their travel benefits while you eat ramen noodles complaining that you can’t lose weight. Feeling like none of the education you thought you needed is getting you were you need to go. Feeling completely and totally worthless because you work so hard and a treat of a Cancun overnight financially derails you because you cant afford to eat food on the road. Feel that – that is low.
(This hurts but) here is an honest look at what I owe. I feel like to some it isn’t much, to me it is almost crippling the amount of stress that paying this causes me. After I pay off my bills there isn’t really that much left to feed myself, fuel my car and do everything else you need to do in a month. Social times, clothing, prescriptions and any incidentals come from the pool of $150-200 every two weeks.
I have rounded up some of these numbers just to make for easy math but here we go – the actually debt in point form in no particular order :
- Back taxes owing to the government of Canada because I wasn’t getting taxed properly at my side hustle (in 2017) Owing $2500
- Alberta Student Loans – I took this loan out in 2003-06. I have probably paid at least double what was originally. Currently owing $2500
- Nova Scotia Student Loans – I took this loan out in 2012-15. In collection with the GOC, in good standing, am no longer being charged interest. They collect a set amount from my bank account every month. Owing $6500
- Canada Student loans (Federal Loan) – HOT FUCKING MESS. This loan is in collections with the GOC. It is a combination of amount owing from 03-06 and 12-15. They want me to pay $925/ month. We have made an agreement that I can pay $200 because of my current monthly income. I can barely afford that $200. I often miss this payment. I am now at a point that when I miss payments the cost is garnished wages. That $200 barely covers the interest that is accruing at $5.19/day. The only way to get it out of collections is to put $4000 on the loan. As of today owing $35000
- Car Loan – I couldn’t afford to buy a car out right so I needed to get a car loan. It is 12% interest. It is what it is – this car saved my life. Owing $7500 (in case you are wondering I owe more than the car is worth so selling it currently is not at option even though I have thought about it – but also with all the trips to the airport I do need a car)
- Credit cards. I have one. It is maxed. amount owing $2000
Financial Decisions that I made that have helped my snowball.
This summer I found a new insurance company. That saved me almost $1500/year on my car insurance. So instead of paying $108 every two weeks. I am paying $138 per month.
I pulled out some stocks in July to help me catch up when I got behind on my bills. Which actually helped me stay on track, make payments on time and not get to back logged on my bills.
I paid the first debt in my snowball off. I currently no longer owe money to the government for back taxes.
When my company rolled over the way we get paid to twice a month instead of every other Friday. I read the emails, I prepared and I changed all my monthly payments to line up with this new structure.
I got a second job so I get 4 paychecks a month.
I have recognized that I needed to restructure my snowball because if I can pay off something that frees up more money a month – I will actually have more money to pay off bills. So I restructured the order of my debt repayments. Learning the best way to tackle things and changing my plans to be more effective – just straight up financial badassery!
I started meal planning and prepping and actually paying attention to what I bring in my lunch bag so I have less food waste.
I took the summer off from drinking on the road – just to get my shit together and it was worth it. I am pretty sure Umbrella drinks in Puerto Vallarta are going to be extra delicious this winter with all my planning and financial success.
One of the biggest and best things I have learn this last year of financial badassery – that I can only focus on one big life goal at a time. If I try and take on to many things nothing gets done. So while I would love to be focusing all my energy on my fitness or on writing or podcasting or other things – my biggest goal and where all my attention goes is taking care of this mountain of debt and paying things off – one by one.
So, there you have it friends – an open and honest conversation about dealing with financial fuckery and some of the things I did to get myself on track. I know that I am not alone – so lets discuss some of your financial badassery …. go on, tell me something good!