The First Step

I’m not even sure where to start. The past month been a whirlwind of emotion. First there was the severe anxiety, inability to sleep, and the constant rumination over my accumulating debt. For so long I was ignoring the problem – refusing to address my spending habits even though I knew they were bad. I recently finished reading “Stillness is the Key” by Ryan Holiday – and for a few blissful weeks I was still, and I was motivated. But when I let a couple weeks get in between finishing one book and starting a new book, I start to go a little manic. I get stuck in my own head and drown in my worries, anything but still.

With the holidays rolling around the corner and planning a vacation in March, I hit a wall of realization – I was spending too much money before I even had it. I started to freak out when I saw how much I was spending and where my debts actually stood. I needed to change something, and fucking fast. I sat down and looked at my total debt, my interest rates, and my heart started to sink when I saw just how little I was getting OUT of debt. Snails pace – I felt this wave of overwhelming desperation come over me.

Late one night I started searching for books online and stumbled across ‘Debt-Free Living’ by Anna Newell Jones. She managed to crush her $24K debt in 15 months, on a 33K annual salary by doing a year long spending fast. She tells her story in her book and gives step by step “how to” to get out of your own debt. At first I was skeptical, everyone is trying to sell something, but after researching her and her story more – I truly felt “If she can do it, I can do it.” I checked out her blog and her Facebook group – used an Amazon gift card to buy her book and decided to eliminate my own debt, once and for all.

I want freedom, not just from my debts – but from materialism and consumerism, from feeling weighted down my “things”. Making more money and having more money isn’t the problem, I want to live comfortably with LESS. In January 2018 – I read ‘The Life-Changing Habit of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondo and my life was complete transformed (for a moment). I completely de-cluttered my space and felt like the weight lift off of me. I was no longer drowning in my “stuff.” I felt so much lighter, I only kept what I needed and what was of extreme value to me (my journals, books I’ve read more than once, a few pictures). There were a lot of sentimental items that I got rid of, memories I needed to let go of in order to move forward. Living with less was liberating – but somewhere between here and now I forgot that.

Here’s a little back story on me and how my spending habits started. I’ve been married and divorced. I met my ex husband when I was 18 years old working at a sandwich shop, he was 21 years old. We fell in love fast and hard – 8 months later we were engaged. A year from our engagement we were married with joint bank accounts before I had even turned 21. I won’t blame my former marriage for my debt, in fact I learned how to budget. But sharing money at such a young age was difficult, I barely learned how to take care of myself before I joined my life with another person with a child. I was still a child! After a painful divorce in 2015, I was left questioning who I was, what I was doing, with a false sense of financial stability. Sure my income supported only me after the divorce, but I was spending way more than I thought I had – opening credit cards, going on trips, going to clubs, shows and treating all my friends. I dug myself an emotional grave that cost me thousands.

In 2018 I faced my finances and started to make positive changes. They were small but I was making a conscious effort – I addressed the problem instead of continuing to sweep it under the rug and ignoring it completely. Shortly, I joined an MLM, Monat in hopes to make some extra side cash to put a dent in my debt. Monat gets a bad rep for being an MLM – but some people make TONS of money, I was not one of those people. I spent money before I made money, and not just on the starter product pack – but on presets for Instagram, shipping samples to potential clients, equipment for creating photos and videos, and the “image” of being the girl that has it all together. My obsession with beauty products started with Monat – I began subscribing to several monthly beauty boxes (FabFitFun, BoxyCharm, Ipsy etc.), showing off products on Instagram and hardly using half of them. I didn’t even know how to use them! My bathroom quickly filled up with junk I hardly used, and I felt guilty for throwing things away. I ended all my subscriptions a few months ago, and now my bathroom looks like my boyfriend could maybe have his own drawer.

I’m ready to shed my consumerist habits, I don’t need the latest and greatest. More isn’t always better. I want to appreciate what I already have, and be more mindful when making choices. But creating this lifestyle for myself goes beyond paying off debt and spending less. It means exposing myself to the things which will help and guide me, and reducing or removing things that aren’t within my best interest. The past month I’ve been working on reducing my screen time, I downloaded the Moment app to help me track and hold me accountable. Most of the temptation to spend lives on the internet in ads, subconsciously suffering from FOMO scrolling through everyone’s highlight reel, and the discount emails from all your favorite brands during every fucking holiday – which I’ve started aggressively unsubscribing.

I’m ready to shed my debt, earning more than just financial freedom – but the freedom and opportunity to pursue my passions whatever they may be. It’s a long journey ahead and I’m sure it won’t be perfect. There’s much to learn and I’ll probably make mistakes, but I won’t let it discourage me from the goal. Thank you for your support! More information to come on how I used a Reverse Budget to set myself up for the next year, along with my “Needs & Wants” list.

Happy saving,
Jess

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