“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!
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