Carrie Smith, the Debt Movement Community Leader
Why do you think it was so easy to fall into the debt trap?
I grew up and was taught that credit card debt and other consumer debt was bad, but that debt like getting a car or a mortgage was good.
So I always had car debt since the I bought my first car right out of high school. In fact, my dad was the one who co-signed on the loan, so it not only seemed normal to go into debt for a purchase like that, but endorsed as a good idea.
And it kept spiraling from there with the addition of buying into the “American Dream” when I bought my first house at 23 years old.
What was the defining moment that made you realize that you needed to get out of debt?
I had just gotten out of a tough relationship and was forced to sell my home. That’s when I decided I needed to get my life in order.
I realized I made too much money to be so broke. Granted I didn’t make anything close to 6 figures, but for a single person like me, it was still pretty good income. I no longer had anyone to blame for my financial situation but myself, and it was time to take action.
What obstacles did you have to overcome in paying off your debt?
The biggest obstacle I had to overcome was wanting to quit, when I only had a few months left on my debt. I wanted to get done faster and I didn’t want to wait to pay off the last few thousand dollars.
Plus it was just a few thousand right?! I wanted to spend money on other stuff, like traveling and shopping. I was really feeling the frugal fatigue as they say, but with the help of my readers — who supported me the entire way — I pushed through and reached my goal.
How much total debt did you have?
Before I sold my house and paid off all my credit cards, I had over $150,000 of debt. But once I came to my senses and got out of a house I couldn’t afford, I started tackling all my consumer debt.
How long did it take to pay off your debt? (If still paying on it, list how much you’ve paid in what time)
I paid off over $14,000 of consumer debt, including credit cards and a car loan. It took just over a year (14 months to be exact).
What’s your best tip for someone finally want to get out of debt?
Create a vision board (or Pinterest board) of the reasons why you want to get out of debt in the first place. When I created my “Dream Board” of 10 things I wanted to do, it was much easier and more motivating to get — and stay — out of debt.
I would also encourage anyone who’s feeling like they have to buy into the American Dream, that you don’t! Just because everyone around thinks it’s normal to be in debt, doesn’t mean that you have to be.
Take back control of your life and your decisions, and you’ll start to create your own American Dream.