Our financial mistakes often explain who we are, and shape us into who we want to become. So, before talking about anything else, I should probably tell you how I got myself into -$29,000 of consumer and student debt.
When I was 18, I moved out for the first time. While my rent was only $300/month, I hated my job, so I called in sick a lot and spent most of my spare time partying. Obviously, these activities helped me save a ton of money. From 20-22, I moved back home, went to college full-time, and worked part-time. I was also the proud owner of my first credit card, which I used mostly for gas, alcohol, and takeout food.
In 2007, I graduated from college, landed the full-time job I have now and moved out again. This time, my rent was $432.50/month but I was taking home close to $1,100 bi-weekly. Had I not gotten into a relationship with a guy that refused to work, I would have saved a lot of money! At 23, we broke up and the cold-hard reality of paying for a fun, single girl life hit.
My rent was $950/month + bills and, for whatever reason, I felt it was the perfect time to buy all new furniture and a brand new car! (Aren’t breakups great!?) On top of my new expenses, I was single and wanted to have fun! Eating out, going for drinks, and spending my weekends dancing at nightclubs or going out of town were exactly what the breakup doctor prescribed.
At 25, I decided to go after my dream of living in Toronto. As you can see, I am back on the west coast, but I did have an incredible 4 months off from regular life! I also didn’t receive a paycheque for 4 months, and during that time, what did I do? Drink, eat takeout, and have fun, of course.
Also at 25, I started a two-year undergraduate completion degree program online. By the end (July 2012), the program will cost approx. $18,000 (tuition and books). Work gave me a $5,000 scholarship but the rest is up to me to pay for.
Are you starting to see a trend? In terms of budgeting, I have obviously been living beyond my means. Now, it is up to me to change both my situation and my behaviours.
If I can pay off all of my debt by May 2014, there will be one bonus: I will have better credit. When my two loans and credit cards are paid off without missing a single payment, the banks will know I can successfully pay off debt. Until then, I need to learn how to live within my means and enjoy what I bought myself during this crazy ride.
Here goes nothin’. Or, in my case, everything.