In part one of destroying the debt monster I shared how my once abundant mindset became warped the more I learned about my lack of financial responsibility. I talked about how I thought money really worked and how I thought debt was a good thing. Today I can acknowledge there is some good debt but back then I had no idea of that. I just knew that this debt thing was not helping me feel any better and most importantly I had no idea what to do about it.
Part 2 of Destroying the Debt Monster
When I realized I didn’t know how to solve this problem I was determined to figure this one out. It all started when I was exposed to Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad Poor Dad” that a fellow co-worker recommended to me. Oh yeah, this wasn’t any ordinary co-worker who knew very little about finances. Despite them working in a similar job as I was, the reality was he didn’t need to. He was financially set and merely worked for the joy of the challenge and medical benefits. Anyhow, as I read this book I learned about how Robert had two dads, a rich dad and a poor dad. The rich dad knew what it meant to be financially responsible while the poor dad struggled to get ahead.
This story really resonated with me. Everything I thought I knew about money was all wrong. For example, I thought having a credit card that you pay overtime is good albeit I had this burden of outstanding debt I had to somehow manage to destroy. One thing is for sure, each month I would review my finances and see I had to get control of this but the reality was if I didn’t fix my mindset no debt elimination plan was going to help me.
I had to get real with this pain of not having enough and barely getting by despite that wasn’t the case but it was how I felt. I felt like whatever money I had leftover after I paid my bills was barely enough to put towards this mountain of debt. I needed to change my thoughts about money before I can do anything.
I looked back on my life and remember seeing family and close friend’s family struggle with money, living paycheck to paycheck. I did not want that same feeling even though it was exactly what was happening to me. Have you ever heard Anthony Robbins talk about making a true decision? Well, for me that is exactly what it was. After thinking about how I no longer wanted this pain, in a quick instant I decided that I will no longer live like this and I was going to change my ways.
It may seem hard to believe that “a decision” is all that it took for me to change but reality was that is exactly what happened. I wanted to avoid that pain and the only way that was going to happen was if I let go once and for all. It’s like burning the bridge you just crossed over to get to the land of milk and honey. You don’t want to go back and you can’t, because the bridge is long and gone.
At this point I was ready for a plan. I put together my personal financial statement to see where the focus was needed. At that time there weren’t very many programs out there other than using paper and pen. Yes, computers were around back then but they just didn’t have the tools and programs like they do today. So, I used a spreadsheet I created that listed our income and our list of fixed and variable expenses. It was a painful process but well worth the time since this was bringing some awareness where I needed help.
I had to get control of my expenses
I can’t say I wasn’t shocked but my expenses exceeded my income which explained why I wasn’t able to get ahead. I looked at my variable expenses (aka doodads) like going out to eat and shopping. I then looked at my fixed expenses to see which ones I can get some savings by switching to different providers. I was able to chisel back the expenses quite a bit and with the extra leftover money I applied it to the debt.
I decided to tackle the largest debt first while I paid just a bit more than the minimum to my credit card. From the extra leftover money I was able to get from cutting back, I applied it to my student loan payment. In fact, I was able to apply two months of payments worth each month. Within two years I paid it off.
During that time the credit card debt was slowing declining since I wasn’t using it anymore. I took the amount of money I was paying my student loan and directly applied it to the credit card. Within one year that was paid off too.
I was off to a great start. I got rid of this limited mindset and was able to conquer destroying two major debts. Being recently married with a house, I felt like I was in control but then something happened during that time. We had a beautiful boy and along with that came brand new expenses. I had a new challenge.
With this new challenge and momentum in my favor, I had to make sure I stayed financially responsible. In Part 3 of Destroying the Debt Monster I am going to talk about what I did next as a husband and being a brand new dad.
What kind of financial challenges have you been able to overcome?