I realized I was on a trajectory to live an unremarkably average life. That is, I was living my own life from the passenger side and allowing other people’s beliefs to drive my decisions. I accepted what other people thought about me and told me to do. I checked off boxes on some else’s checklist. Brand name education funded through debt, twice. Check. Check. Since I did not know how I wanted to live my life, I was complacent with living this way for a long time. I picked life goals from some else’s checklist, achieved them, and thrived off the applause. Living an unremarkably average life where other people told me where I was going was good. I did not have to think just follow other people.
I was living my own life from the passenger side and allowing other people’s beliefs to drive my decisions.
When my car was totaled in August 2014, those other people were not there to rescue me from a personal crisis. Since I was not prepared to lose my car, I had to temporarily stop following other people and start thinking. I realized that I was not happy with the way I was living – being in debt and working a job just to afford those minimum payments. I wanted to upgrade my vehicle to avoid that type of issue recurring, but I had little money to do so. I also had little experience buying a car on my own, so I sought out the advice of other people. Despite recently realizing other people’s bad record of accomplishment, I purchased a new car using debt as they advised. What a mess, but I created it. It was my responsibility to fix it.
The mess consisted of about $65,000 in student loan debt, $14,000 in a car loan, and $1,000 in medical bills. In total, I owed other people $80,000. On the surface, this was fine because I could afford the minimum payments and still have a reasonable amount left over each month. However, I could not afford a personal emergency. I was also miserable. I regretted taking out most of the debt to finance a life that I was not happy living.
When I realized I had been doing everything wrong, I decided to try to do everything right – all at the same time. Save for emergencies. Contribute to the 401k plan. Save for travel. Get out of debt. Find my passion. For 16 months, I tried to accomplish all those goals, but did not gain much traction on getting out of debt. That was supposed to be a priority, but I only paid off $20,000 in debt. At that rate, I would remain in debt for four more years. I was too miserable to be miserable for that much longer.
I was not happy with the way I was living – being in debt and working a job just to afford those minimum payments.
In January of 2016, a friend shared his success using the Dave Ramsey method to get out of debt. I was skeptical if the Dave Ramsey method was going to be like the advice that I received from other people. It was not. Dave tells people to live life on purpose and do so without taking out debt. He recommends focusing on one goal at a time to gain financial freedom. With the motivation to become financially free and a clear plan, I was all in. I got on a budget, lived below my means, increased my income, and solely focused on getting out of debt.
Three years after a car accident jolted my unremarkably average life, I became 100 percent debt free. There were many times when I wanted to stop trying to get out of debt. I was not sure if the extreme way I was living would be worth it. Despite feeling unsure, I kept going. I focused on my why – I could not remain in the passenger side of my life’s journey as someone else was driving my life in the wrong direction. I had enough of living like that. Now I am in control and I am living my way – debt free.
By Simone, the creator of Slim Fit Wallet