The Not-So-Secret Resource That Also Helped Me Get Out of Debt

August 15, 2013

On Tuesday, I wrote a post that outlined the resources and tools that helped me get out of debt – at least in the beginning. There’s one other resource that has been a little more obvious than the rest but, after typing 1,100+ words already, I didn’t really think there was time to get into it. Can you guess what it is?

Of course, it’s this blog.

When I first started writing Blonde on a Budget, I thought I would start a blog and just post either daily or weekly spending reports – for myself, nobody else. I had no idea that the personal finance community even existed, let alone personal finance blogs. Then one day I came across a personal finance blog written by an anonymous girl in Vancouver. Well, wouldn’t you know it but the picture in her banner (which didn’t show her face) was easily recognizable and I realized it was my friend IRL (in real life) Krystal! Is this your blog!? I asked her over Facebook. She said yes but begged me not to tell anyone, because she was just getting ready to go public and finally attach her real name to it.

This seems to be the way most personal finance blogs start. We come up with pen names, or only share our first names, and write in a certain way because we hope no one in our real lives will ever identify that it’s really us. My blog was certainly no different. I started writing Blonde on a Budget under the name LC (my initials), because I was ashamed to talk about how bad my financial situation was with anyone I knew. I never imagined that blogging would become such a powerful outlet for me to share what was going on in my life, get advice from all of you and give me the chance to use your words as fuel to keep me going. Fortunately for me, you all came into my life exactly when I needed a little extra support.

More than two years later, there are now 297 pages of comments in the backend of my blog, with nearly 6,000 comments in total. Of course, nearly half of those are my own, as one of my goals has always been to try to reply to each and every comment that you all take the time to write. Recently, I decided to go back and read some of my first few posts, comments, etc. to see how things have changed.

One of the very first comments I received was written by Trish at the Financialite. Trish said:

I love your style of writing! You are honest and you aren’t shy about any of the things that you did to get yourself into debt (which I started to think that I was reading the story of my twenties!). BUT you also know why and how you got there which is the key to getting yourself out of it! I think its great that you will be able to pay everything off by 2014 and live debt free.

It’s incredible to think that my original debt-free date was April 2014. I beat that by 11 months, which I honestly don’t think would have been possible without writing about my journey and receiving so much support along the way. I tried to share any tips and tricks I learned with you all, but the things you taught me, shared with me, etc. were (and still are) invaluable.

This blog has not only helped me get out of debt, it also helped me change the direction of my career. First, it helped me land a job on LearnVest‘s editorial team, where I worked as a remote intern for more than a year (on top of already working full-time and going to school). From there, I started freelancing more often and guest posting on various personal finance blogs, startup blogs, etc. It’s also because of Blonde on a Budget that I eventually connected with Alyssa Richard, which ultimately led to my current position as Managing Editor at That ended up being a dream come true, but it was a dream I’d given up on just before it finally happened.

Look at one of the comments I made in June 2011, when a friend said Toronto would miss me:

Thanks! And don’t worry… I have a one-year plan here and after that I’d consider coming back out again. I miss the city and everyone in it!

Just 14 months later, I was living and working in Toronto again.

Now, I’m not saying that anyone who has debt should start a blog about their debt repayment journey and it will somehow make all of their dreams come true… but what I can say is I am now a firm believer that if you want something to happen then you need to talk to people about it. I wanted to pay down my debt, so I made a couple debt repayment strategies and wrote about my progress. I’ve talked about some of my goals and dreams, and a few people have felt my passion and helped me make them happen. I feel lucky to have accomplished all of those things. But it hasn’t all been easy… I’ve worked hard, lost a lot of sleep and taken a few (very calculated) risks along the way.

Recently, and also with the help of this blog, one more opportunity was presented to me that I could not pass up. As of September 1st, I will be one of the “other voices” on Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s blog. Starting September 1st, every Sunday morning you’ll be able to find a new post from me there. I’m thrilled to have the chance to work with Gail, write about some new topics and potentially grow my readership. If nothing else, it’s an honour to join the team of writers who are all currently there.

And to think: two years ago, all I wanted to do was keep track of what I was spending my money on.

Thanks for your support, friends. :)

Flickr: conversely

  • Jordann @ My Alternate Life August 15, 2013 at 4:46 am

    Your life sure is different from when you started blogging! I credit your honest voice and magnetic personality, but there was definitely a lot of hard work involved too!

    I’m very glad you decided to keep going to BoaB after you became debt free, your blog is still on of my favorites.

    • Cait August 16, 2013 at 8:03 am

      Thanks, Jordann! It’s funny, I was a little worried I’d have nothing to say… turns out, I can’t stop the ideas from flowing!

  • Alicia August 15, 2013 at 5:53 am

    That was the same reason I started my blog, to be accountable to myself in a more public way than my crazy spreadsheets. I’m glad you’ve had such success doing this, and congrats on being one of Gail’s new “Other Voices”… I like that it will be a younger voice similar to my experience versus a few of the “older” voices that are on there – cannot wait to read that as well.

    • Cait August 19, 2013 at 7:26 pm

      Thanks, Alicia! And I agree – I’m excited to bring a younger voice to the blog. :)

  • Rob August 15, 2013 at 6:29 am

    Cait, I’m sure that you will agree – your blog has been a win-win over the years. Just as you’ve been helped and inspired by your readership, so too have you helped and inspired others – many that you’ve come to know (in real life and/or online) and many others that have stayed silent but appreciative. Now you’ve become debt free (and plan to stay that way, I’m sure) but other challenges will arise from time to time in one’s daily living which I’m sure this blog will address so keep up the great work.

    And who was it, I seem to recall just awhile back, who briefly was contemplating on stopping this blog? Pshaw! :-)

    • Cait August 19, 2013 at 7:27 pm

      What was I thinking, eh? Thanks for the continued support, Rob. :)

  • Cassie August 15, 2013 at 6:31 am

    No Cait, THANK YOU for writing. As much as we were supporting you, you were supporting us. Thank you for being an inspiration and for sharing your journey with us :)

    • Cait August 19, 2013 at 7:27 pm


  • Laura August 15, 2013 at 8:30 am

    I got goosebumps ready this post :) I can’t wait to start reading your post on Gail’s website, congratulations!!!

    • Cait August 19, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      Aww, thanks Laura! I can’t wait to start writing!

  • Martha August 15, 2013 at 9:58 am

    It is amazing what comes out of someone doing what they are just doing… I guess its a good lesson to JUST DO IT :)
    I do love your blog and congrats on all that has come from it! Excited and happy for you!

    • Cait August 19, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      Thanks, Martha! And a great lesson indeed.

  • Ashley August 15, 2013 at 11:20 am

    I love reading your blog – it’s helping me stay on track with my own debt repayment journey. We utilize a lot of the same strategies (paper and excel) and my husband and I have a goal system in place for the small victories of paying off one card or one loan as well as our personal savings goals after it’s all paid off.

    Love your honesty and your voice – keep on keepin’ on!

    • Cait August 19, 2013 at 7:29 pm

      That’s awesome! I didn’t have any specific goals/victories throughout my debt repayment journey, but I think that if I had it would’ve made it a little more… fun? If that’s possible. ;)

  • Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans August 15, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    This is so inspiring! There’s nothing like the support of the pf community.

    • Cait August 19, 2013 at 7:30 pm


  • Dear Debt August 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Your blog is one of my favorites– I love your voice, passion and motivation. So many good things have come out of your hard work and your dedication. It’s inspiring!

    • Cait August 19, 2013 at 7:30 pm

      Thanks, lady!

  • Tara @ Streets Ahead Living August 15, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    I think having an audience is also motivation to stay on track. It’s not just the emotional support they provide, but it’s also your own personal motivation to not let them down. Congrats to successfully paying off all of your debt and becoming successful in your career in the meantime! Your story is an inspiration to many of us.

    • Cait August 19, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      Yes! I forgot to add that part but it’s certainly true. I’ve seriously stopped myself from making so many purchases because I didn’t want to have to write them on my weekly spending reports. “What would readers think of me!?” haha… sounds crazy, but I’m grateful I had that little bit of guilt!

  • Michelle August 16, 2013 at 6:37 am

    Congrats on the new gig with Gail, Cait! Your blog has been a pleasure to read and its fun to read the posts of your new direction of life after debt. I am hoping I will be there myself soon! I started my blog to hold myself accountable just like many others. I had also made a pact with myself after my divorce to change my life completely. No more coasting mindlessly through it. I wanted to be an active participant in my life in every aspect.
    Congrats again to you :)

    • Cait August 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm

      “I wanted to be an active participant in my life.” YES. I love that.

  • Patricia Gass August 16, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Congratulations on your successes, Cait!
    You are a wonderful writer and inspiration to other young people struggling to make ends meet in a challenging economy.
    Will continue to enjoy and share your funny and witty posts!

    • Cait August 19, 2013 at 7:39 pm

      Thank you, Patricia! I appreciate the kind words. :)

  • NN August 16, 2013 at 9:20 am

    I’m a recent reader of this blog but it’s exactly what I look for – a personal story behind the money talk. I don’t mind reading about budgets or spending but it’s the story of a person dealing with their money that is fascinating.

    • Cait August 19, 2013 at 7:40 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. I’m a firm believer that there are at least some emotions tied to how we spend, save, etc. I love reading about how people feel about money, why they make the decisions they do, etc.

  • Clare August 16, 2013 at 9:23 pm


    • Cait August 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm


  • Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies August 18, 2013 at 4:01 am

    Your blog was the first PF blog I’ve ever read, and I loved your style of writing. It’s no surprise to me that you have become so successful. Congratulations on your new venture writing for the Other Voices. xo

    • Cait August 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm

      Thank you, Eva!

  • Kayla August 18, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    I’m new to actually blogging about personal finance but I’ve been a reader since May of 2012! Your blog and others like it have really inspired me. Thank you. :)

    • Cait August 19, 2013 at 7:42 pm

      That’s so nice to hear. Thanks, Kayla! And love the title of your blog. ;)

  • Lindsey @ Sense & Sensibility August 21, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Hey Cait! I am finding that my blog is keeping me motivated to stay on track with things. I never imagined that the PF community would become such a big part of my life. I’m only six months and I know it will only grow from here. Thanks for the writing and sharing your journey with us, it’s awesome to see someone succeed after working so hard!

    • Cait August 21, 2013 at 10:12 pm

      I love that the community is helping you stay motivated, Lindsey! It doesn’t surprise me, but I love going to your blog and seeing that so many people are commenting. Keep it up!

  • Gillian August 22, 2013 at 8:08 am

    YAY! Writing for Gail? That is so freaking awesome! That is great that this blog has created a whole new career path for you, and helped you to stay accountable along the way. I find your writing motivating too!

    • Cait August 22, 2013 at 9:26 am

      Thanks, Gillian!