✔️ #13 - Work on getting out of debt and start a savings account
I have a few items on my #33things list for this year that don't involve adventure or adrenaline packed fear-facing. These items are things I need to do for myself that I've been putting off for far too long. One of these items includes learning how to manage my money better so that I can work on getting out of debt and start to build my savings again.
For those of you that know me, you know that I started a business with a good friend of mine almost five years ago. We closed that business this past fall for personal reasons, but it left me in quite a bit of debt. I acquired the credit card debt of the business. I spent every last bit of savings I had, along with any retirement accounts I had cashed in along the way to support the business. It left me in a not-so-great position financially, and that coupled with my own personal credit card debt (because I've never been good at managing my own money), student loans, and a car loan began to make me panic that I had fallen into a hole that threatened to swallow me up forever.
A good friend of mine is a financial advisor -- shout out to Jason Valentino because I know he reads these posts often -- and he sat down with me a few years back to review my finances and investments (or lack there of). I was sure that he was thinking to himself that I was a complete and utter mess, but Jay, being the nice guy that he is, kept it to himself even if he was thinking it. He very calmly and patiently answered any questions I had and educated me on many things I was unaware of. It's been years since that meeting, but every time I sit down to work on my budget now, I hear Jay's voice like an inner mantra and it makes me feel less terrified of the future and more determined to get things in order now so that I have a chance at getting in a better position in the years ahead.
For those of you like me, don't fret. It's never too late to get your finances in order. And if you're even more like me, you feel completely overwhelmed and somewhat like a bumbling idiot when it comes to talking about finances and investments which is why I have people like Jason in my life who I can call (check him out - jasonvalentino.nm.com). But the best advice I can give you myself is to stop putting it off and make your financial management a priority right now.
It's been about six months since the business closed, and in those six months I have made it a mission of mine to make a plan to get out of this mountain of debt and start a savings account at the same time. I had to make a number of phone calls, but I was able to work with the bank who owns our business credit card debt to setup a payment plan that's manageable for me and keep my account in good standing. I set up a plan to pay down my personal credit cards and made a personal oath with myself to not live outside of my own means (no more shopping with my credit card!). I spent time figuring out what I currently spend my money on and what areas I can cut back on to stay within my budget. I started making larger payments to my student loans and will be paying off two of them within the next six months. I opened a savings account last month -- the first one I've had in years -- and started an automatic monthly deposit. It officially has $75 in it. That's probably laughable to most people, but it's a starting point and something I can build on for myself.
I took a MoneyType assessment developed by Dr. Jennifer Leigh Selig in partnership with WorthFM, which helps give insight into how you think and manage money. My personal results revealed that I'm a "Nurturer" and I was surprised by how accurate their definitions of my spending habits are. By their definition, I "see money as a tool to help others," and that I "keep others in mind when making financial decisions," something I've always done. They also give recommendations on the next steps for my financial decisions, which include "helping myself first, creating my own personal safety net, and avoiding going into debt for others."
All of these actions I've put into place help me feel like I'm in control of my finances again. I have a long road ahead of me to get out of debt, but I have a plan in place and I am on a path heading in that direction. I don't feel as panicked about the future and I don't feel like a failure because owning my own business set me back a bit. I wouldn't change any of it because it's all been a part of my journey and I've learned so many things along the way.
I'm not embarrassed to share these things with all of you the way I once was, because my hope is that it helps at least one person feel better about their own situation or become inspired to make changes of their own. And that, my friends, is the greater purpose of my #33things list, to not only inspire change in my own life, but to help inspire change in yours as well.