In Part I, I began sharing my story and elaborating on why becoming debt free became so important to me. Below find my concluding thoughts.
Choices & Consequences
My student loan debt is an illustration of how the ignorant choices I made in my youth came back to bite me. Lacking the luxury of dialed in parental guidance to help me recognize my gifts and talents, I’ve spent a lot of my life wandering trying to figure myself out and what I’m good at–career-wise. I spent more time in college than necessary because I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for a living.
Not a bad thing or unusual (people do this even with the luxury of parental guidance), but there are consequences to extended seasons of exploring when you don’t have a clear plan to exit your wandering season.
Consequently, without that parental guidance on money management or them being available to be aware of my aptitudes so as to guide me into a certain direction for more immediate career success, I made poor choices when I did enroll in college.
The Cost Wandering with No Guidance
For example, my student loan debt is so high, today, because I went to multiple schools (wandering) and I over-borrowed using surplus funds for living and personal expenses. Or, to keep it real–personal desires. This practice is something encouraged by students and even some financial aid counselors.
Even though while enrolled I later got a job, my poverty mindset said the money I worked for belonged to me. Financial aid (i.e., Pell grants and loans) was created to pay for school.
It never occurred to me, until years later, that while working during school, I should have used some of my income to pay for tuition and other school expenses.
Although therein lies the conundrum or vicious generational cycle in which I was living. I was not earning enough income to have anything really left to pay for school–even if I wanted to.
Or more accurately, I did not know I should seek, much less recognize, quality financial guidance so as to help me create a budget and come up with a “plan” to earn more so as to borrow less. I did not know the right questions to ask.
For in hindsight, I’m sure I gave up on way too many opportunities I was given because no human, at the time, knew me well enough to know my potential to mentor or guide me effectively.
Therefore, I assumed this major or that job was NOT for me when in actuality, I didn’t really know what I was capable of. I just assumed I didn’t fit and moved on.
But knowing what I do now, I’m sure I could have found a way to overcome many of these obstacles. Like many other students who knew better.
I recall hearing stories from other students (who graduated) about how they managed to pay their tuition waiting tables and other odd jobs and being surprised. I recall feeling like a lazy ignoramus bum for not employing such common sense and hustle–when I was a working student. I began to employ this strategy in my 30s, but was only able to do so for two semesters before I could no longer afford to as that was the year I resolved to never go back until I could pay cash consistently.
All that to say, after examining how I created my student loan debt in the context of my vision and as an investment, going back to school when I was still financially treading water was not smart and nothing I needed.
A Divine Irony
So consequent to all the above, I’m a late bloomer to figuring out what I’m good at and what career I should have been pursuing. For, my initial college wandering turned into career wandering.
But the poetic or Divine irony of it all is that through this process, I learned that this explorative-experimentation nature I have is actually characteristic of people who are entrepreneurs.
So, turns out through my wandering, I discovered (in my mid-late 30s) that I am an entrepreneur. It is the canopy under which my multiple interest and skillsets can coexist.
Now, the philosopher in me wants to say–“So, you were not wandering after all.” 🙂 I told you it was spiritual, for when the student is ready, the Teacher appears. Lest I digress.
Summary of Latest Debt Report
The moral of the story is money is a tool. It has taken me half my life to realize how ignorantly and impatiently I used this tool in creating the debt hole I am currently experiencing.
But patience and persistence are my superpowers. And I’m happy to report that some bricks from my debt wall have begun to fall after years of chipping away at it–off and on.
I’m finally seeing some fruit from all the prayers and sacrifices over the years–e.g. turning down another cool girl’s trip to NYC or an exotic location.
This month, due to a RIDICULOUS financial blessing I received from someone whose heart God clearly touched to act on my behalf, I was able to blitz and pay off $9145.05 of $12,540.00 of medical and credit card debt.
Medical and credit card debt represents approximately a bit over 10% of my total debt. The remaining 90% or so is my student loan balance. After the remaining peripheral debt is paid off, all my debt repayment efforts will go toward eliminating the student loan.
This is an example of the power of exponential and how fast the right opportunity or relationship can change your entire life–for good. For, this was an undeniable exponential blessing from God.
My story is a cautionary tale that I hope you found inspiring and helpful as you consider and plan your debt-freedom journey.
If you have pre-teens or college-bound teenagers, share this post with them. Also, have them listen to this Money Champ interview I was featured on. Then, have them follow The Young Adult Survival Guide.
The Young Adult Survival Guide is cool blog that features the story and adventures of Phil Risher, a savvy millennial who, at age 25, paid off $30K in debt in just 12 months. Then he had the nerve, two years later, to purchase his first home (i.e., cute condo) with ALL CASH.
Phil was my first Goodbye Broke interview. You can catch Phil’s Goodbye Broke interview, here.
Your teens will surely be inspired by Phil’s story and influence. He is a perfect illustration of what it looks like for a young adult to commit to and practice sound money principles early in life when it matters most.
Finally, learn from my mistakes. Make a plan and stay the course so you, too, can say Goodbye to Broke with me.
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