Gettin’ Guesty

This week a lovely lady (who would like to remain anonymous) shares her story about how she got herself into debt and how societal pressures helped lead her to her debt accumulation.

Her story is an honest portrayal of how it is in culture and I’m glad she’s tellin’ it like it is.

If you don’t go for what you want, you’ll never have it!

I heard someone say that you’ll always have a car payment or you’ll always have debt, period. I do not believe this has to be TRUE for me. I know this because I have lived without debt and it is an awesome feeling! However, what is silly is that I’ve gotten myself back into debt 3 times over! I, admittedly, purchased too much house for my status (single, no children and didn’t need a 3 bedroom 3.5 bath home). I hate thinking about it that way, but it is true that I bought my house with what others think in the forefront of my mind. After all, someone with an advanced Ph.D, in psychology, and a great job shouldn’t rent, right? Wrong! If I couldn’t afford to put down 20% AND have additional money in the bank to address the numerous needs that arise when owning property, I was asking for trouble without even realizing it.

I have accumulated the standard $10,000 in consumer credit card debt to “make ends meet” since September 2003. This is more consumer debt than I’ve ever had in my adult life and I am uncomfortable with that. After going to college for 6 years post undergraduate studies, I only had $15,000 in debt which I paid off in FOUR YEARS!!

Regretfully, I lost a parent in 2002. However, I was blessed with an inheritance so, I purchased a home in 2003. My house was worth $150,000 more on paper in early 2005. What does that mean “worth more on paper”?, you ask. Well, it means that it appraised for that much because homes near me that had similar floor plans were selling for $150,00 more than what I paid for mine in June 2003. As we all know, home prices sky-rocketed in about 2005-2006. So, I made the mistake that MANY people make and I refinanced and took some cash out. This is a financial mistake because, like I said, the house was worth more on paper! When the value of homes plummeted, the house was worth slightly less than what I paid for it in 2003. As a personal side note, I regret not selling it to be closer to work at that time, but was AFRAID I would have no place to live because buying at that time was not going to be an option. And I wasn’t open minded enough to take an apartment situation for a time or season and SAVE that money. Remember what I said…someone with an advanced degree and a great job should not rent, right?

While I took the cash out for what I thought was a good reason, I learned a very hard lesson. I followed advice of others who said that I was located in such a metropolis outside of Washington, D.C., I couldn’t go wrong taking out the small amount of cash I did for medical expenses and consolidating a SMALL car payment (so about $11,000 total) even though my gut told me this was probably going to back fire.

You see, I am in the field where I work in a school setting and was counting on getting the standard cost of living increase in pay. What I did not consider was the fact that home values would plummet and those of us in most jobs that usually get a pay raise would be at a standstill for nearly 3 years (and perhaps even more with the way things are currently looking).

So, where I am now is realizing that discipline is needed. Stressful, yes, but I have to get used to making it work on less. I’ve taken on a part-time job as well as working in a direct selling business. I take books out on CD from the library to listen to in the car to make my commute bearable. I also listen to as much information as I can on wise financial planning. I have a vision of where I want to be in 5 years, 7 years, and then 10 years. I plan to pay off all of my consumer debt in the next 24 to 48 months. I have a written plan and I am following it. It’s called the debt snowball. Once one of the smaller credit cards is paid off, you take the amount you were paying on that credit card and apply it in addition to what you’re already paying to credit card number two. This process snowballs your efforts of getting the debt paid off sooner. In 5 years, I plan to not be in the position I am currently in as far as living paycheck to paycheck. In 5 years I should be in a position to have 3-6 months of my living expenses in a liquid money market account. The key is not to accumulate more debt on those cards so, I’m closing the accounts as I pay off each card.

As much as I dislike my long commute, I’ve realized that home ownership will protect me against inflation and in the long run when I can sell, it’s as if I’ve put my inheritance in a savings account that I can’t touch for now. Therefore, if you’re in a home that you wish you’d sold during the bubble, do not fret. Homes never increase in value at that rate historical so, we are going back to the good old days, when people would buy a home and stay put for 18 to 20 years. It helps sustain communities and build continuity in our lives. It forces us to slow down and smell the lilies of the valley☺

My advice would be: mentally reframe negative aspects of your financial situation. Get a vision of where you want to be financially and begin to move toward it. If you get off track, regroup and start again. Never think that all is lost. Don’t be afraid to take on additional part-time work if it is required. Realize that direct selling is often a good way to network and make extra money because overhead costs are typically low and you are able to work at your own pace. If you don’t go for what you want financially and think about where you want to be in the long-term, you may never get what you really want.

**Please note, this post has been modified from its original state to remove the author’s name and likeness**

If you have something to say on a topic related to personal finance or getting out of debt send me an email at: to be considered as a Gettin’ Guesty columnist. xo Anna

P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp!


3 thoughts on “Gettin’ Guesty

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  1. Joanna G.

    Hi! Thanks for the great article! I'd been feeling sorry for myself ever since I moved from a house I couldn't afford to living in an apartment again. I'm close to finishing my advanced degree and teach at the college level and I thought, "Well, why shouldn't I have a house? I'm rad, I'm almost done with my degree and I teach college." Ummm…No! But that's okay. I'm staying positive, "reframing the negative" great advice, and making huge economic changes in my life. Thanks for the great blog, too! :)


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