Life after debt

Today’s post is written by my friend, Camilla Kragius, author of the new book How To Get Out Of Debt Living Paycheck to Paycheck: 9 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom. Camilla is a challenger of the status quo who wants you to leave your comfort zone and start living! She loves to travel, go on adventure and inspire others to work on their goals and dreams. She writes about life, productivity, finances and ways to get off the traditional path. She lives in Utah where she spends her time playing in the outdoors. You can find her at No More Hamster Wheel and The Traveling Swede.life after debt

Do you work?

That’s a question I get surprisingly often. To a lot of people my life must look like one long string of play and fun. And for the most part it is. But it wasn’t always that way. For a long time it was a long string of stress, sleepless nights and regrets thanks to debt. A lot of it.

At first it was manageable. I mean, everyone has debt, right? That was the lie I told myself. I didn’t grow up being told debt was normal so I tried to find an excuse.

Then as time went along the debt increased, decreased and increased. Many of you recognize the yojo-ing when it comes to debt. You get smart and start paying things down. Then you get tired because you don’t see much change so you give up because you feel as if you are just spinning the wheel going nowhere.

So you head back to the mindset that minimum payments are part of life and one day something miraculously will happen like a mega bonus at work or even better a mega win on the lottery. Because after all, something that drastic might be the only way out. I used the excuse that if I only made more money I would be able to pay off my debt. Well, I didn’t have an income problem. I had a spending problem.

Without a change in mindset sooner or later you hit rock bottom and you are down to three choices. Declare bankruptcy, go homeless or find a way to pay it off. The first two didn’t sound like fun so I choose the latter. It wasn’t particularly fun either.  I think having the stomach flu for a month would be compare.

But I’m here to tell you it’s worth it. Every single day I’m so grateful that I made the decision to get out of debt. Today I have freedom. I can travel, spend time with friends, go places, enjoy life. Can I do everything I want? Of course not but when people wonder if I work it’s a great testament to that I’m living a life that looks like I’m not working because the financial freedom I now have allows me to play a lot.

So on days when you feel as if you are stuck spinning the wheel going nowhere tally up how much money you will be able to put into your savings account once you are done paying off your debt. Then visualize yourself getting off the wheel. Because once you are off a whole new world opens up. A world where people will ask you “Do you work?”

Note from Kristin: I am so excited to get where Camilla is right now. Do you want to get there too? Check out Camilla’s book How To Get Out Of Debt Living Paycheck to Paycheck: 9 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom.

4 reasons to not use credit cards

Today’s guest post was written by blogger, Jana Lynch. Jana and I are both living a very counter-culture lifestyle and loving every minute of it.

Photo by Daniel Oines

Photo by Daniel Oines CC

 

Confession: I don’t use credit cards. Neither does my husband. We survive fine, too.

We stopped using them about seven years ago when we decided to pay off all our credit card debt. We realized how out of control we were when we used them, and we realized we couldn’t be trusted with them in our wallets. It was how we got into debt in the first place.

At first it was difficult; we had become accustomed to charging any and everything and using cash or our debit cards seemed…weird. But we knew what we stood to gain if we refrained from using them so we stood firm in our resolve. It worked, too, because we paid off our credit card debt and have managed to remain that way for 3 years. And, seven years after our initial commitment, I’ve realized that, in addition to the debt, there are a few things I don’t miss about credit cards.

For instance:

  1. Having a bulky wallet. Carrying all those cards around bogged down my wallet and made my purse heavier than it needed to be. I’m pretty much resigned to having a ridiculously large mom purse, but I can slim down my wallet. Now I can find all the important cards (like my insurance or library card) when I need them and my purse is lighter.
  2. All those bills to pay and fees for late payments. I am not the most organize person and, even with having a list of bills written down, I sometimes manage to forget one. When I had credit card debt, it was more bills to remember to pay and not paying those had serious consequences. Plus, I’m fairly lazy and want to spend as little time as possible paying bills. Without the credit cards, that happens.
  3. One less worry about ID theft. Last year, my alma mater’s system was breached and identities dating back to when I was in school (mid-late 90s/early 00s) were compromised. Then there were all those breaches at Target and other stores I can’t think of right now. Not having credit cards, and not having to remember which card I used at which store, gives my paranoid brain a little peace of mind. It’s one card to keep track of, and it’s a debit, so I know instantly if there’s a problem. No waiting for a statement to figure that out.
  4. Less bills to pay. I’ll admit that I am not great at remembering to pay bills on time. I have the majority of our bills set up for an autodeduction and the ones that aren’t (utility bills) get paid once a month, on one particular payday. When there are credit card bills due, it’s one more thing to remember to pay, it’s more money going to someone else than staying in my account, and it’s one more chance to make a mistake that might, quite literally, cost us. Without them, it’s easier to pay the bills and I’m more efficient. Plus, the extra money helps out with other expenses.

This is not to say that credit cards are evil. If you can use them properly, then have it. I just know, and have a proven track record attesting to it, that I can’t. So I stay away.

Getting out of debt, and getting credit cards out of my life, was one of the smartest choices I made. And while it’s not easy, refraining from credit card use, I do it. I would love to walk into a store and buy all the things and not worry about how I’m going to pay for them that day. But I also know the stress it’ll cause isn’t worth it.

So I keep the credit cards at home, locked away.

Everyone is better off.

How about you? Do you use credit cards? Why or why not?

Jana Lynch is a blogger at Jana Says, where she talks about everything from parenting to pop culture to mental health issues, and runs the blogger mentoring program Bloggers Helping Bloggers. You can stop by and say hi on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

 

Is someone you love important enough to sacrifice for?

It’s been a rough month for budgeting.

About a month ago, our cat, Thor, got really sick and we had a $750 vet bill. I’m happy to report that he is much better and is back to his old crazy self. Luckily, we had to the cash in our emergency fund to pay the bill and we were able to put the money back in the emergency fund the next time we got paid.

Tuesday, I walked up to my car and there was paint all over the passenger side of the car. It looked like someone had sprayed white silly string all over the car. We tried everything we could think of to get the mess off, using Google and YouTube to try different ideas. No luck. I reported a claim to my insurance company and $325 later, my car is white paint free. Another unexpected expense.

I was starting to feel defeated. Now that tax season is over, the extra income from my business has slowed down so we aren’t making the insane progress we were over the past few months. The unexpected bills, while we are able to pay them, are also slowing down our progress.

I got discouraged. We have a massive hole to dig out of. Maybe we should just stop and enjoy ourselves. We work so hard and I’m tired.

I had to recenter myself. I had to remember why I am doing this.

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This is Jeffery, my insane, geek of a husband who I love more than anything. He is my why. In 2006 when I was diagnosed with cancer and we struggled through it physically, emotionally, and financially, my eyes were opened. I was lucky that we made it through and I am cancer free but it made me think about the mess I would have left him with. It probably would have bankrupted him.

As a cancer survivor, it is pretty difficult to get life insurance so I can’t insure my way out of this mess. My solution is to clean up the mess so if something happens to me, at least financially, Jeff will be okay. Even as I think about it now, I get emotional. I have seen so many husbands and wives devastated by the loss of a spouse and then relive the pain all over again if the finances are not in order.  I don’t want Jeff to ever have to go through that.

Why should you start down a path to financial freedom? Who is so important to you that you want to make sure they will be okay if something happens to you?

 

Staying motivated

Where did this week go? I can’t believe it’s Friday already.

Sometimes, I think the hardest part of being frugal, staying on budget and paying off debt is staying motivated. It’s hard living like no one else so someday you can live like no one else (Dave Ramsey). You see people around you going on vacation, going to ballgames and concerts, and doing things you wish you could do. There are always going to be things you want and the temptation to spend is always going to be there.

I’ve developed a lot of ways to keep our motivation going. Setting goals and seeing those goals come to fruition is a huge motivator. Last night, we paid off a  debt in our snowball. I can’t tell you how awesome it is everytime we knock one out. We plan what we’ll do with the extra money when everything is paid off.

I don’t go to places where I’ll spend money. I don’t hang out at the mall. I don’t go to bookstores to look around. Those are dangerous places. I find alternative ways to entertain myself.

I surround myself with people who are also motivated. I’ve joined a debt free group on Ravelry (a knitting site I’m a member of). I’ve also joined Living Like No One Else, a forum for people following Dave Ramsey’s plan. Seeing the successes other people are making is really motivating. It’s also a great way to get support if you are tempted to fall off the wagon.

Writing the blog is also huge motivation. I love sharing my wins with all of you and even sharing my frustrations sometimes as well. Helping others helps keep me straight.

How do you stay on task with your financial goals?