Why do you think it was so easy to fall into the debt trap?
I fell for the new-age adage, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” What that encouraging bit of advice ACTUALLY means is, do something you love, get paid for it, live within your means and build on that.
What we debtors hear is, “Leverage everything you can and then God or the Universe or that great money machine in the sky will relieve us of our debt because we risked everything.”
But it doesn’t work that way. What really happens–and what happened to me–is that our budding projects don’t get the dignity of a normal growth arc.
Because we’re so pressured by all of that debt we become desperate, and our desperation leads to–you guessed it–failure. So I have had to learn the hard way to take slow, steady steps in all of my artistic and entrepreneurial projects and to fund them all, step by step, in cash.
What was the defining moment that made you realize that you needed to get out of debt?
I couldn’t stand my own scheming or spiraling balances one more minute. My small writing business was tanking, I was moving money from card to card, I had hives, couldn’t sleep, and couldn’t believe I’d let my debt get so out of hand.
What obstacles did you have to overcome in paying off your debt?
I had lost a lot of my usual business while I was debting to fund my creative project, so I had to work temp jobs for a while until I found a good-paying in-house job.
Then I set to work on learning how to live on my cash, and made a promise to never use credit cards again. I haven’t.
Hitting the wall woke me up, but it was living on cash and not getting back into the credit racket that changed my life.
How much total debt did you have?
$80,000 when I woke up, more by the time I stopped using credit
What’s your best tip for someone finally want to get out of debt?
Read my book! It’s called “The Debt-Free Spending Plan: An Amazingly Simple Way to Take Control of Your Finances Once and For All.” It’s written specifically for people who have debt trouble, and for all those who have found the investment-focused personal finance books not helpful.
I say it like this: telling a debtor to get out of debt without telling them how–and then telling them how to invest–is like telling a drowning person who can’t float to swim to shore.
We can’t even fathom investments when we’re in debt trouble! We need help learning how to live on our cash without engaging in self-deprivation. That’s what my book is all about.