“I Thought I Had It All. And Then, the Market Crashed.”

debt pay off story tahnya kristina

Tahnya Kristina had a 6-figure income and lost it when the market crashed. Today she’s sharing how she’s made getting out of debt her number one priority and how she changed the way she approaches money.

Getting Out of Debt Is Not Fun, But It Can Be Easy… 

I was in my late twenties, a university economics graduate and I had a great job at a bank as a financial planner.  I was living the good life and I thought that I had it all…then the market crashed. Suddenly, I found myself with a new car, over $20,000 in debt, an expensive downtown apartment and no job. I had no backup plan so, needless to say, I had to make a major lifestyle adjustment.

I was under 30 years old and making a six figure salary, unfortunately I wasn’t financially responsible enough to know how lucky I was; I definitely took my cash flow for granted and unfortunately my early success would soon become my demise. I spent money carelessly on multiple vacations, a new car, expensive electronics and other materialistic (aka unnecessary) personal items. Money wasn’t a concern for me because there was always money coming in.

My bills were being paid on time each month but my debt was accumulating because I kept spending money. I wasn’t worried about my increasing debt balances because I knew that I could afford to make the minimum monthly payment and keep my credit in good standing. At the time, I didn’t realize that making only the minimum monthly payments on my (multiple) credit cards was not enough to maintain a good credit score. Credit card balances that are close to the limit negatively affect our credit score. I guess I learned my financial lesson the hard way.

After years of watching my credit card balances increase I finally hit rock bottom and decided that I didn’t want to live in debt anymore. I wanted my debt to be paid off as soon as possible; the only way to do that was to cut my expenses and allocate more of my new (lower) income towards paying off my debt.

tahnya kristina pic

I Got Out of Debt and You Can Too 

I found a second job, sold my car, moved to a cheaper apartment, and I set a target debt free date. My new personal goal in life was to become debt free and I didn’t focus on anything else. I always had money on mind; I became obsessed with paying off my debt. I would save money any way that I could because money that was not spent was money that I could allocate towards paying off my debt.

I now live on a strict personal budget that includes setting up pre-authorized payments to transfer money from my checking account to my credit cards every two weeks, and I check-in regularly on my debt free plan to make sure that I am still on track towards becoming debt free by my target date (which is December 31, 2013).

My financial habits have changed since I started to turn my life around but surprisingly I don’t feel like I am missing anything in my life.  Actually, How I am happier than I was four years ago because now I can afford to save money and I am well on my way to becoming debt free. I have learned to live without all of the things that I want and appreciate the non-monetary things that I do have.  I no longer feel as if going on vacation is a right; I now feel that going on vacation is a privilege that requires savings. For the first time in my life I have more savings than I do debt and I couldn’t be happier!

 

Tahnya Kristina is a blogger and personal finance expert at My Diary Entry.  Every day she helps people find their dream job, get their finances in order and achieve personal happiness.  You can follow her on Twitter @TKBlogs.

Can you relate to Tahnya’s story? What would you have done in her situation?
11 comments

in Guest Interviews, Paying Off Debt

11 Comments

  1. Noel Guillory // March 6, 2013

    Love the cover graphic for this post! Great story as well – I’m trying to ease into budgeting, saving, and paying off debt. Thanks for the inspiration! This site is beautiful and we readers appreciate the regular, quality content.

  2. wymberley // March 6, 2013

    My family is about to take a blunt kick to the head with sequester kicking in come April. My husband takes a 45% pay cut as a Border Agent and NO ONE seems to know but the BP families! Anyway, we are scrambling to bank money and pay off what we can in the coming weeks. Thanks for the guest post and I am curious to see what tricks you may have up your sleeve.

    • Anna Newell Jones // March 21, 2013

      Oh man Wymberly, I’m so sorry to hear that. My thoughts are with you all. xo

  3. The Norwegian Girl // March 6, 2013

    I think that setting a target date to get debt free is a really smart thing to do. By having a goal, getting debt free might be easier, knowing that you`re working towards a set goal, a set date.

    • Anna Newell Jones // March 21, 2013

      It is SO helpful to have an end date in mind. Then you don’t feel like you’re doing something for an endless amount of time.

  4. Colleen // March 6, 2013

    I am so motivated to try the spending fast. I, too, have allowed myself into a high amount of debt and I am tired of living that way. Thank you for the motivation to change my spending habits and change my life!

  5. Meg // March 7, 2013

    Wymberly, you guys are in my thoughts! That’s hard. We only have 7 days. I’m thankful that somehow we ended up on the very low end of furlough days. Good luck.

  6. Tahnya Kristina // March 11, 2013

    Thank you everyone for your kind words. I love telling my story because if I can help at least one person pay off their debt or inspire one person to save I will be happy. Paying off my debt wasn’t easy but I am a better person for it. Thanks for reading.

  7. Mike Della // August 12, 2013

    A goal is great and kudos to the author for achieving this (almost) with 20K of debt! That’s a lot. I think scaling back your lifestyle is the first thing people have to do, even if it’s hard with kids these days. It always feels better to be financially secure.

    • Anna Newell Jones // August 15, 2013

      Could not agree more. It’s hard to make those lifestyle changes but once you get through the awkward beginning part it’s completely worth it.

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  • Anna

    Hi, I'm Anna! I paid off close to 24k in debt in only 15 months & it completely changed my life! I want you to have a debt-free life too so here you'll be able to read all about: How to do a Spending Fast®, saving & making more money, DIY's, & a lot about living awesomely with less. Let's do this!

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