Why do you think it was so easy to fall into the debt trap?
“We live in a country where status and success is determined by what possessions you have and what you can afford to do.
Happiness is often found in buying things for yourself, and in my case it was attending things such as sporting events, concerts, vacations, and partying like a rock star.
As I first moved out into the “”real world,”" I got sucked into the trap of the monkey-see, monkey-do approach to life: I didn’t ever consider living on a budget or restricting my spending, however I simply did what my friends did and enjoyed a life similar to those around me.”
What was the defining moment that made you realize that you needed to get out of debt?
“In the interview we did together at Good Financial Cents, I shed light on this moment, but it’s one that I will never forget: after living beyond my means for over a year, my life and extravagant spending began to catch up to me. I was at least 8 months behind on all of my credit card payments, I had a bank account that was over $1,000 overdrawn, and I had collectors calling me about 4 times a day (per collector).
Sadly, that wasn’t enough to force me to change my ways and the defining moment didn’t come until I was out at dinner with my girlfriend (now my wife) when I received a call from my extremely furious roommate informing me that our rent check had bounced.
Immediately it dawned on me that I was FLAT BROKE…I had nothing to my name as I sat there at dinner and the reality that my ONLY checking account was overdrawn (my other had been closed due to the amount it was over-drafted and I didn’t have any credit available due to all my cards being closed due to being behind on payments) spurred me to come clean to my girlfriend.
I told her all of the secrets I had been keeping and the mess that my life was. She ended up paying for the dinner (as I literally had no money), and loaned me $1,000 to pay my rent.”
What obstacles did you have to overcome in paying off your debt?
“My immediate challenge was learning to live on less than I made. Once you get accustomed to a certain lifestyle, it’s very difficult to change your behavior, your outlook on possessions, and how you define having fun.
Cutting everything down to the bare bones was rough, but after a few months of budgeting and developing discipline, it started to come together.
I’ll also add the the other greatest hurdle has simply been overcoming life’s challenges. Regardless of how well you manage money, you will run into bumps (sometimes giant mountains) that you have to overcome such as replacing a vehicle, paying large unexpected medical bills, and the like. Maintaining focus through those times is a challenge, but you know you have to keep marching forward.”
How much total debt did you have?
How long did it take to pay off your debt? (If still paying on it, list how much you’ve paid in what time)
$60,000 over 5 years
What’s your best tip for someone finally want to get out of debt?
“Do anything and everything you have to do to change YOUR life.
The reality for us all is that we control a portion of our destiny. We have a choice as to whether or not we eat out, buy cable television, electronic gadgets, or go on an annual vacation. We have the choice as to whether or not we work extra jobs, take overtime opportunities, pursue side gigs such as starting a blog or small business, or find a higher-paying career path. We have a choice as to where our disposable income goes to succeeding financially or keeping up with the Joneses.
All you have to do is make the choice to change and give it your all. If you work harder and more focused than anybody else, then things will eventually change. I promise you it’ll be worth it.”
Check out Some of Jason’s Awesome Posts on Debt
Overcoming Murphy’s Law (not live yet, but will be up on 12/3)