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When I first began following the Debt Free Community on Instagram I was drawn in by the stories everyone would share about their debt free journeys. I find it fascinating to read about the progress others are making and also reassuring to know that I am not the only one in my position.
Your Debt Diary is a guest blog series by money bloggers and members of the debt free community for My Debt Diary. Each week someone new will share their debt story. This week Jane from @janehasdebt shares their journey so far and the extraordinary challenges they have faced.
What stage are you at in your debt free journey right now?
I am stuck in a time warp. Look more like it. I have been trying to get out of debt for the past 10 years. Part of the problem is that I have ADHD – also known as not being able to rationalise anything because of getting into a space of being hyper-focused and also being impulsive. I have fortunately learned to curb everyday expenses both using personal finance tools like budgeting and using the cash envelope system. Critically stopping big purchases due to my ADHD is still a work in progress (like financing cars or buying concert tickets).
For the most part I was doing well but a few years ago life literally flipped me upside down and shook everything out of me within a year’s time. Divorce, passing of mein Kind, my own health issues, and my car was totaled at the other person’s fault. I had to draw my focus somewhere, so I went back to school by taking out student loans, I had to rent/deposit a new place, and I bought a new car to replace my just-paid-off previous now totaled car. Plunged myself into another $23,000 on top of my already 38,000 (total – $61,000).
Then I found Mr. Money Moustache blog and the forums. It was a godsend to me at the time I found it. The diversity of people available and their brilliant knowledge in personal finance saved me. I am still not in a good place with debt. But overall I am in a much better place with my finances – awesome credit score due to bills being paid on time, budget brilliantly, put 10% away in my retirement account, increased my income, increased my net worth and now craft my own cash envelopes.
What is your debt total?
Between health, education needs for my other Kind, and financing another used car (major mistake) – at my highest I have owed $81,120 (April 2018). I am now at $69,324.
What is your “why”?
The worst thing ever was not being able to take extended time off when mein Kind got sick. I didn’t have the family to help, I did not qualify for FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) and I couldn’t quit my job without sinking into homelessness. Twenty four hours a day I was working full-time, taking care of two in separate locations, attending health appointments and commuting hours at a time. I was exhausted and I was in a flurry of frustrating emotions at the lack of support every corner I turned.
I will never be in that space again.
Are you following a specific plan or method?
I try follow the Dave Ramsey baby steps 1 and 2. I keep a strong budget. Discretionary expenses are cash only (with pretty envelopes). But I don’t always have a full emergency fund. Actually it’s one of my pet peeves because I can never keep it filled up.
What challenges have you faced along the way?
Being in debt for so long…actually I have been in debt my whole adult life. But at the time of being mindful of my debt I have not been able to get my debt down! It’s so frustrating. I’m on a roller coaster without the ability to get off of it. Frankly it is tiring! The last stint was my car breaking down and deciding it was better to finance another than spend the $4,000 to fix it. That was such a bad decision.
I am kind of freaking out about my debt load because die hard planning for retirement is now coming into focus, Um, no bad nursing homes wanted nor do I want to be broke. With a problematic and expensive U.S. healthcare system, it’s a scary thought not having enough money available. Especially when I think of everything else I am concurrently financially managing and/or trying to save up for.
What are you doing to speed up the progress of your debt free journey?
The past few months I haven’t been able to snowball. The 4th quarter is when all my annual expenses come due and I didn’t have sinking funds available to cover them. So the snowball portion and payment plans covered these expenses. Fortunately, starting in 2019 my snowball will resume.
As for side hustles, it is not working out for me. I don’t much to sell off and side hustle opportunities are not coming to fruition. I plan on trying a couple of other side hustles in the new year. I’ve started saving my $5 bills to help me fund my emergency fund.
All extra money received (i.e. tax return, bonuses etc) will be thrown at paying down debt.
When do you plan to become debt free?
As long as I stay cash only with discretionary expenses and keep the credit cards out of the picture (because ADHD and CCs don’t mix), I will be debt free 4th quarter 2022. God help me.
I’d like to thank Jane for today’s post. Please make sure to visit their Instagram at @janehasdebt.
You can read last week’s post here. If you would like to share your story with Your Debt Diary please leave a comment below with your email address or Instagram and I will get in touch. You can find me on Instagram here.