Dear Family and Friends

April 25, 2012

For the last 10 months, I have been lying to you. Or, not so much lying as living somewhat of a double life. And it all started when I decided to come home early from Toronto…

It’s hard to admit but the only deciding factor in that decision was the fact that I had no money. Literally. I had about $600 in my chequing account and more than $500 of that was accounted for in automatic savings and debt repayment withdrawals. On top of having no cash, all of my available credit was basically maxed out. Financially, I had hit rock bottom. I tried to put on a happy face and act like I was content with my decision to come home but there were many nights I cried myself to sleep (both in Toronto and in my tiny makeshift bedroom downstairs at home).

Now here’s where the double life part comes in. Since then, while you’ve all been able to shop, go to concerts and take amazing trips, I’ve been here: writing this blog. Through my blog and others, as well as Twitter, I have been connecting and building friendships with hundreds of people from all over the world, who may be or had been in my situation. With their guidance and support, I have managed to stay strong in my debt repayment journey. I haven’t shopped. I haven’t traveled. I haven’t even dyed my freaking hair. What I have done is stick to a tight budget and pay off more than $16,000 of debt. In fact, as of Friday, my credit card statement will finally say that I owe $0.

You might be wondering why I am telling you this now. Well, as you may know, I’ve also picked up some freelance writing in the last year. What you don’t know is that each of those opportunities came from writing this blog. Writing here is why I was offered my first freelance writing contract with My personal posts and tweets helped me land my internship at LearnVest. One of the co-founders of Glass Heel asked me to add some personal finance content to their site. And now, based on my experiences, my new passion for personal development has lead me to the most exciting opportunity yet.

Two weeks ago, I was accepted into The Bold Academy. In July, The Bold Academy will bring 26 hand-picked individuals to Boulder, Colorado and connect them with world-class mentors and speakers, expert-led workshops, skill-building sessions, learn-by-doing experiences, and playful adventures. This month-long, life-changing experience is designed to help people find clarity, build confidence, and unlock the ability to lead the life they’ve always wanted to live. And I could be one of those people. But I need your help.

Currently, there are 50 people fundraising the cost of their tuition and only the first 26 to raise it and pay can go. I want to be one of the 26 people who gains everything they need to live the life they’ve always wanted. I want to be pushed and challenged. I want to learn that I am capable of more than I think I am. And, most importantly, I want to come home as the best version of myself; for me, for my relationships – both personal and professional – and for my future.

I’m sorry for hiding all of this from you before. I’m sorry for being too scared to admit my mistakes. I’m sorry for not telling you the whole truth about where each of my new opportunities had come from. And I’m sorry for ever worrying that you wouldn’t support me. There were so many moments where I wanted to share, gush and brainstorm with you, but the fear of your disappointment was too much. As I’ve recently learned, fear seems to be the only thing that has held me back from a number of possibilities. And I don’t want to be scared of doing anything anymore.

Can you forgive me for keeping this secret from you? And can you help me secure my spot in the Bold Academy?

Love you all, xoxo

Cait / Caity / Caitlin

Oh and Dad… don’t worry. Just because I was once nearly maxed out doesn’t mean I ruined my credit score. Last time I checked, it was 778.

  • fromshoppingtosaving April 25, 2012 at 6:25 am

    I <3 you Cait! I don't care what you did in the past, what matters is the present. Of course the debt made you who you are today because look at all the opportunities it brought you! You're an amazing woman and you stand as an inspiration to everyone out there. I really hope you reach your goal!

    • Cait April 26, 2012 at 8:10 pm

      You’re the best, Erika! Thanks for your support :)

  • Canadianbudgetbinder April 25, 2012 at 6:25 am

    What a lovely story. Good for you sticking to your goals and being brave enough to post your thoughts and feelings here for your friends and family. Hiding failures or what you believe to be mistakes in your life can create more problems. Stepping up and solving them is the best medicine. I wish you all the luck on your continued financial journey. As for your freelance work, well you know what they say.. you never know when luck comes knocking.

    • Cait April 26, 2012 at 8:11 pm

      Thanks for your comment! I’m excited to finally connect with you and your blog.

  • Earth and Money April 25, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Very moving post Cait! I wish you the best of luck in achieving your goal! Sometimes we find out how surprisingly supportive our families will be when we are most scared to go to them, and I hope that becomes the case here :)

    • Cait April 26, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      It was absolutely the case! I feel so silly for ever worrying about their reaction…

  • klmcallister April 25, 2012 at 7:24 am

    You’re very inspiring, Cait! I love following your journey and you have a lot of fans here in Toronto. Hopefully, you make it back here one day soon to fulfill your dreams! :)

    • Cait April 26, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      What a nice thing to say! Thanks, Kerri :)

  • Bruce Bucks (@BruceBucks) April 25, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Nothing will stop you from reaching this goal.

    • Cait April 26, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      Nothing! #GoingBold

  • Jessica April 25, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Congrats for paying off all that debt! Best of luck with your goals.

    • Cait April 26, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      Thank you, Jessica!

  • amomsdime April 25, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I don’t think you have anything to apologize for! I think it’s great that you have been able to connect and find work through your blog – congrats. This opportunity also sounds amazing and I hope you end up being one of the 26!

    • Cait April 26, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      Thank you! I hope so too!

  • John @ Married (with Debt) April 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Very brave of you to silently take control of your life. We know that actions speak louder than words, and you were making sure it would happen. Awesome to see all the opportunities this is unlocking!

    • Cait April 26, 2012 at 8:15 pm

      And the opportunities are still coming! Thanks, John.

  • Sean @ One Smart Dollar April 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    When your parents see what your debt started at and where it is now they will be proud. You are well on your way to overcoming your debt and being debt free. Good job Cait.

    • Cait April 26, 2012 at 8:15 pm

      Thanks, Sean!

  • belowhermeans April 25, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    So brave to not be anonymous anymore to those in your real life. Best of luck!

    • Cait April 26, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      It was a scary decision to make! But has been well worth it :)

  • See Debt Run (@seedebtrun) April 26, 2012 at 4:57 am

    Wow, Cait.. Your writing has really opened up some doors for you. Not that I am surprised.. You are very talented.

    I think you won’t regret the decision to “come out” to the real world.. We did that months ago, and the response from friends and family has been incredibly positive


    • Cait April 26, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      Public bloggers like you two have always inspired me. Thanks, Jefferson!

  • A April 26, 2012 at 8:39 am

    This is a brave step for you, C! It’s so hard to talk about money with our real-life friends & family. Such a taboo subject that isn’t often brought up in “polite company.” I’ve started talking about finances more in real life, especially now that we’re focusing on our house fund. We are part of a close group of four couples and we’ve all decided to try to save money in 2012. One couple is buying a house (they close next month), one couple is down to one income due to the husband going back to grad school, and another couple is saving while they figure out if they want to start a family next year. Although we talk in general terms (more percentages than dollar figures) it’s good that we’re able to be fairly open with our friends about money.

    I’d love to hear how your friends & family took the news!

    • Cait April 26, 2012 at 8:18 pm

      I think that’s great, A! I’ve actually been lucky in that a lot of my family and friends talk pretty openly about money… in fact, now that I’ve gone public, I’m realizing it was pretty silly of me to keep this blog a secret from them!

  • Stephen (@SavefromScratch) April 26, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Way to buckle down on your debt, Cait! It’s going to feel so great having that load gone, let me tell you. Keep at it and enjoy making the final payment tomorrow!

    • Cait April 26, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      I am so excited for tomorrow! Thanks, Stephen!

  • Nicole (@PennyFrugalista) April 26, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Congrats and good luck in your new endeavors! Love the last line about your kick-ass credit score for your dad.

    • Cait April 26, 2012 at 8:21 pm

      I said the same line in-person and he seemed pretty happy. ;)

  • Bronwyn van Vugt April 26, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    A lovely and inspirational story, Caitlin. Money doesn’t mean a thing to me. I’d love you all the same if you were living on the street with $100 000 000 of debt to your name. Thanks for sharing all the same, though. I believe in you and hope you make it to Colorado!

    • Cait April 26, 2012 at 8:21 pm

      Thank you, Bronwyn! For your support and your donation, xoxo

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