“I’m not a finance blogger, but five years ago I was left with $45 thousand in divorce debt. I paid it off in three years, saved an additional $18k, quit my job, and traveled the world for a year-and-a-half. I still haven’t gone back to my job. Now, I just bartend when I can, and I pick up odd jobs to save for the next big trip.”
It was like a kick to the punch in my gut. He left me, and he left his debt too. It took me three years, but I paid off over $45,000 in divorce debt. I used that momentum to save an additional $18,000 over the next seven months, quit my job, got on a plane and saw the world.
Here’s how I did it:
1. I Changed My Mind. I looked at my paycheck differently.
It wasn’t my money.
It belonged to my creditors. On payday, first I paid my bills, then I sent a big a chunk of money to a creditor, and then I saved (a little at first, and more as I went). This left very little for spending. For more on this, see Anna’s tips here.
2. I Discovered Craigslist. In my city, it’s absolutely the best way to sell things. I sold what I could in favor of cheaper items. Can you get $800 for the couch you picked out together? Because you can buy an adorable vintage number for about $250. Send the difference to your credit card company. Did he buy you a watch? A pair of earrings? Sell them. Forget making a necklace out of that engagement ring. I sold mine for $3500 to an adorable young couple. I wished them every happiness and sent the full amount to my credit card.
3. I Took a Second Job. My number one tip for new divorcees: Stay Busy. Working a couple nights a week at a restaurant or retail store will get you out of the house and your mind off the divorce. You can easily make an extra $500 a month even at minimum wage. Warning: Resist the urge to use your new discount. Dedicate every dime of that check to a credit card payment.
4. I Tackled Each Debt One at a Time. It works. I focused all of my attention on my highest-interest cards first (see this related post). When my unsecured debt was gone, I worked on my car loan. This not only made financial sense, it also helped me psychologically because it broke up my debt into smaller, more manageable chunks. When I was finally debt-free, I treated savings like a bill and loaded my account with the same veracity.
5. I Didn’t Quit. This was probably the hardest things I ever had to do. And I had to do it alone. But I kept going. I considered every payment a victory, and got a high from watching my balances get lower and lower.
6. I Started Running. I needed something to get my mind off of the grief of the loss, and the stress of the debt. I joined a running club, made lifelong friends, lost weight and finished three marathons. Find an inexpensive hobby that makes you feel good about yourself. Join a book club. Start knitting. Volunteer.
7. I never did go back to my job. Instead, I take odd jobs when I can in favor of spending most of my time traveling.
Now my money is mine.
Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you need further tips or a one-woman cheering section as you go!
Would you like to be a contributor on a topic related to personal finance? Send me an email at: email@example.com. (Please know that credit or lending companies will not be considered. Only real people with real stories and experiences should email.)
P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp! SpendingFastBootcamp.com
Wow, this is so inspiring! I have about $34K in debt that I inquired (with no help from anyone else) and I am trying to stay inspired to pay it all off before June 2013. It's so hard, but not when I read posts like yours. I'm going to sell more of my junk, and think of every dollar paid off as a victory. I love that idea! I need to read posts like this everyday to keep going :)
Thanks for this post. My divorce was finalized about a month ago and I was left with a ton of debt, but I've got a detailed plan and I know I will get out from under all of it eventually. I've just got to work on now allowing myself to get discouraged because it is going to take some time, but i know I can do it.
Keep going back! I'm gonna keep posting;)
Sorry to hear you were left with the debt. That sucks. Hang in there. You can do it!
Wow…I am so impressed with Kady's attitude and commitment. I hope to never be in her shoes, but I think this information is good for anyone with debt. Thanks for sharing.
Congratulations, Kady! Very inspirational! I also have divorce debt and I've yet to pay it off. However, this year I am determined to pay off 1/2 with the other 1/2 paid off next year. What you did is my life goal-debt free followed by random jobs and traveling the world.
Love her story… another person proving that getting out of debt can be done!
Wren: It does take a long time, which totally sucks. But it's only temporary!
Thanks Bree! It's a better life these days that's for sure. So much less stuff, and so much less stress.