The other day I woke up from a bad dream.
In the dream, I was in graduate school (again) pursuing a different degree — this time on a full scholarship (yay).
As it turns out though, there was a fluke and my scholarship didn’t go through, and somehow I had $100,000 in debt.
In my dream, I was so panicked.
“Nooo!” I thought.
“I just paid off nearly $100,000! I have to do this again?”
I felt demoralized, scared, and daunted by the task of having to go through that experience once again.
I woke up looking around, blinking twice to make sure this was my reality. Living debt-free in Los Angeles, living the life I want.
Yes, yes, it was. A wave of relief crashed over me as I tried to forget the pain of being in debt.
It’s been over a year since I paid off my student loan debt, but I was in student loan debt for my whole adult life. I am just now coming to terms with what life without debt looks like. In many ways, it’s very sweet.
I have less guilt, less anxiety, and more freedom. I have more choices or access to them at least.
But in the year or so since becoming debt-free, I haven’t completely shaken the pain of debt. I’m still worried that something will happen and I’ll be back in debt.
Having medical issues this year stirred up that worry. Taking on a project like Lola has me concerned about managing my business finances.
I realize I think about things differently because of my experience with debt. I am cautious.
It’s like I got burned and I’m a little too scared to get close to the fire again. Though I am doing everything in my power to rock the debt-free journey by saving money, investing, and paying off my credit card in full every month, I still have these lingering worries.
Ultimately, I don’t ever want to be in debt again. I don’t ever want to feel like everything I earn belongs to someone else and can be taken away from me.
After paying off close to $100,000 in student loans and interest, I know that paying off debt can be trying on your finances, your health, and your relationships.
Though I have my freedom now, I want to keep it. So I acknowledge these feelings and where they are coming from, and try not to let them rule my life.
As a blogger, I’ve always tried to be honest about the emotions related to debt. It turns out that some of those feelings don’t go away — at least not right away — even when you are debt free.
I am slowly coming back from the dead. After FinCon, I felt like I was run over by a truck and was so exhausted. Just a few days later, I realized it was more than exhaustion — I was actually sick.
I knew I was going to be traveling to New York for my girl Shannon’s Financial Gym opening, so after a few days I went to the doctor. I got a dose of antibiotics and steroids and thought I was on the right track to healing.
Unfortunately, the medication didn’t really help that much and I was sick during my whole trip in New York. I pretty much stayed inside except the five or so hours I supported Shannon with her event.
I was so relieved to come home, but wasn’t getting any better. So I went to the doctor again as I thought it was odd I wasn’t getting any better, even after medication (which I hate, but felt compelled to go along with because of the travel).
Luckily, I didn’t have pneumonia or mono or anything serious….just a serious, viral flu and I was ordered to rest.
For the five days after that I cleared my schedule, asked for extensions, and pretty much just apologized to everyone who emailed me and laid in bed. It was really tough as I felt like I wasn’t getting better, even with the rest.
But eventually, it lessened and I’m mostly healed now. I say mostly, because I still seem to be more tired than usual.
I’m on the mend now, catching up furiously — what sucks is I lost thousands of dollars in productivity being sick for two weeks. And it’s bad timing as I have a pre-planned vacation to New Orleans next week for my birthday.
I plan on writing a separate post about this, but it’s so important if you are self-employed to fund your own sick and vacation time. I just started a few months ago and didn’t have enough in there, but now I plan on stashing more away so I’m not stressed about money when illness strikes.
That’s the update with me, but really I’ve been meaning to tell you all about FinCon for weeks! But that damn illness delayed things a bit.
Even though I got deathly ill after FinCon, I had a blast….and got very little sleep, which probably was part of the reason I got so sick.
This was my third FinCon — and the biggest yet. Around 1200 people attended. You could definitely tell it’s grown leaps and bounds in just a few years.
Every day was jam-packed, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I arrived on Wednesday – just in time to help set up a booth for my client Centsai. My colleague, Tonya Rapley, and I created this park/patio theme for the booth, which was fun. I drove down with my own patio furniture, picnic basket and snacks. Overall, I’d say it was a success.
It’s funny, for so many years my main side hustle was being a brand ambassador. To be able to help design a booth experience was a new challenge though.
That evening, I helped my friend Jason Vitug with the Road to Financial Wellness finale. As some of you may know, I’ve been working behind the scenes on a lot of this and helped out with events in select cities. This is my second year working with Jason on this crazy project, and I can’t help but say yes because Jason is just the type of person that draws you in with his passion.
I am so happy to report it was a success. I was there for the first event in New Jersey and the second one in New York, so to be there for the final event in San Diego was really special. I was so proud of Jason and all he’s accomplished. Even though it’s been crazy, it’s been an awesome opportunity to work on this. We’re already talking about The Road 3.0.
Thursday, I went back to my brand ambassador roots and worked the Centsai booth for a while.
In the evening, my colleague Tonya and I hosted a Women and Money conversation with Fidelity and 30+ female personal finance bloggers. We hosted a dinner on a yacht in the harbor, and there are pretty much no words for how perfect it was.
I couldn’t believe this was my job. My favorite thing about self-employment is being able to turn ideas into something concrete, and I definitely did that this FinCon.
I love that my ideas and opinions matter. In previous jobs, I always felt like I was muted. My thoughts didn’t matter. There was a chain of command to get approval and the answer was always “no.”
Friday, me and the ladies of Martinis and Your Money happy hour recorded a live podcast. Of course, there were crazy stories and shenanigans, but it was so great to hang out and chat live.
That night, I went to a lovely dinner with PenFed, a happy hour with SoFi, and then to Ignite. Ignite is an event with 5-minute talks, and it was so good!
Afterward, there was a dance party, and I was definitely one of the last ones standing. I think I danced for five hours straight. You see, I love working for myself, but am by myself at home a lot. I’m an extrovert, so seeing everyone and dancing just made me so happy. Good times.
Saturday was the Plutus Awards. I was shocked that I was nominated for four Plutus Awards — best debt blog, best book, best freelancer, and blog of the year.
I ended up winning best debt blog again. I have to say, I was pretty shocked. Since becoming debt-free and building my business, I haven’t given this blog the attention I want. And I hate that.
But I am still passionate about helping people get out of debt and breaking the emotional stigma around debt. I am so grateful for this community and all the support. Thank you to everyone who has believed in this project and supporting me!
Truth be told, I didn’t go to many sessions and that’s because I was working a lot. I did end up going to some sessions to increase my productivity, enhance my website and more. I saw Jean Chatzky record live which was great. I heard my girl Patrice Washington rock the stage. When I did participate, I always learned something and left feeling inspired.
But mostly I went to work and connect with old friends and meet new people. I loved meeting so many new bloggers!
You’re probably wondering, “Should I go to FinCon?” If you were creepin’ on the #FinCon16 hashtag and feeling overwhelmed with FOMO…I hate to break it to you, but you missed out! #sorrynotsorry.
I have always said it and I will say it again. FinCon is 1000% worth it. I went for the first time two years ago when I was in debt and had just quit my job. As someone eager to pay off debt, I wondered if it was really worth the investment.
The answer? Unequivocally, yes. Of course, I don’t recommend getting into more debt just to go to a conference, but if you can afford it, it can do wonders for your business and blog. While my blog is my baby and I try to keep it pretty simple and not too salesy, it has led to my freelance writing and event planning career. I can honestly say I would NOT be here today with my success, with my book deal, with all of this work without FinCon.
I have made lifelong friendships. It’s funny – I have more “internet” friends than real-life friends.
At FinCon, I was able to connect with my current editors…and pitch new ones. There is something to be said about meeting face-to-face and having a chance to connect. It can solidify relationships and boost your career.
The knowledge, networking and fun you can have at FinCon are all worth the price in my opinion. Especially now, when the price is dirt cheap.
Also, the hotel may seem expensive, but I think staying at the hotel is key to networking success. You have no idea how many late-night lobby sessions there are. And those are typically the best. So even though I could save money by staying elsewhere, splurging on the conference hotel is totally worth it in my opinion.
I am still trying to savor the moment of all the success and fun of FinCon, even though it was muffled with this damn sickness.
So in short, FinCon was a busy, crazy, awesome success, and I’ll definitely be back. Will I see you next year in Dallas? Any questions about FinCon you want me to answer? Do you have any recommendations for New Orleans?
Hey everyone! As you may or may not know I’m teaching a kickass workshop in a few weeks about managing your money as a creative. I’ll teach you how to manage your money and pay off your debt on a fluctuating income. I’ll also discuss how I more than doubled my income this year and went from being fairly broke, to making more than I thought possible. It’s going to be great! The workshop is only $97 for a three-day workshop.
The workshop is through Modern Thrive and they have a BOGO (buy one, get one free) offer just in time for New Years!
Modern Thrive is an online learning platform that was designed to help you figure out what you should do with your life, then help you find the path to get there. Their live online workshops connect you to the resources you need to build a career you love.
Anyone that purchases a workshop before January 2nd using the discount code”NewYearNewYou” will get a second workshop totally free! They will be launching new workshops every single week in 2016, and your free workshop can be redeemed on any of the programs. It does not expire.
Cheers to a new year, new you.
If there’s one thing that’s for sure, I definitely lean more on the ‘earn more’ side of the personal finance spectrum, rather than the ‘cut back’ side. I see the value in both, and in tandem, they can be a powerful combination.
But lately, I’ve been focusing my side hustle energy on scoring cool things for free. It feels weird, because it seems so unlike me to spend time on trying to get things for free. It’s not like I’m spending all day on Swagbucks (affiliate link) trying to earn a Starbucks gift card or anything, I’m spending maybe 5 minutes a day or less.
I got interested in entering giveaways when a music festival was happening over the summer and I couldn’t justify the expense. So I decided to enter a giveaway for tickets. And I won!
This summer I won, not one, but two giveaways to music festivals. I don’t talk a lot about music on this blog, but music is my one true love. I live on music. I can’t work without it. There’s a reason I’m obsessed with karaoke and singing (which some of you saw at FinCon14) and dating a musician. Music is electricity for my soul. Sadly, while paying off debt, I haven’t budgeted a lot for it until recently.
I won two tickets to MusicFestNW and Project Pabst and got to see Weezer, Blondie, Run the Jewels, Thee Oh Sees, Modest Mouse, and more. It was a blast! I did the math and those two giveaways were worth $450 (they were multi-day festivals).
I won them via PDX Pipeline and from what I know, it’s NOT a random drawing and people pick you based on your comment. Which means you have to be more clever than just saying “Pick me!”
My first winning comment went for the heart-strings. I mentioned that my boyfriend and I hardly see music together, as I’m almost always watching him play music. I mentioned that his birthday was coming up and it would be great to spend it together and enjoy a true passion of ours: music.
Not even three weeks later, I won again. But this time for a purely ridiculous comment.
I said, “If I don’t have more live music in my life, I’m going to spontaneously combust!”
While we were at this festival, we ran into one of Ryan’s musician friends who told us about Tixie, another ticket giveaway site.
Tixie gives away concert tickets and local drink and restaurant tickets. They give you ten “coins” a day and you can “spend” them in a certain category. The more coins in a certain category, the greater possibility that you will be randomly chosen.
This week, I won a $25 gift certificate to a fun cocktail bar that we’ve only been to once. Score!
My point in all this is you could score big on giveaways that are worth it to you. Don’t spend all your days and nights entering giveaways, because it would be cheaper to just earn more in that case. But I’ve literally spent 2-5 minutes per day and gotten close to $500 in free entertainment!
Now, my turn to spread the giveaway love. I have a free pass for a newbie to go to FinCon next year. The code is only valid for people who have NOT been to FinCon before. If you are interested in heading to San Diego next September to go to FinCon and you think it would change your life (because it totally changed mine), share this post and write in the comments below why you want to go to FinCon and what you’d get out of it.
Our panel of very biased judges will email the winner 😉
As most of you know, I’m climbing my way out of $81,000 in student loan debt. I’m nearing my way towards the end of my debt journey and when all is said and done, I’ll have paid closer to $100,000 due to the additional interest.
That number still makes me sick, but it’s a triumph to overcome such a large debt load on a minimal to average salary. It’s been a hard journey and not a particularly short one either.
I’ve been serious about paying off my student loans since I first started this blog in January 2013. At that time, I had $57k left.
But the six years prior, I made the mistake of paying the minimum toward my student loans when I could’ve afforded more. I also was convinced that student loans were the “good debt” so I didn’t care about paying them off that much.
My mindset has changed — I now know that the only way to overcome debt is to pay (way) more than the minimum and stop justifying it as good or bad.
One thing I wished I had more of along the way is education. I feel like there is so much misinformation out there, or just plain confusing information that it’s hard to get what you need to help you get out of student loan debt.
Luckily, I have some good news! Liberty Bank for Savings, based out of Chicago, is sponsoring a free webinar, Wipe Out Student Loan Debt to help borrowers eliminate or reduce student loan debt.
The webinar is completely free and will feature Laura La Belle, a certified financial planner and money coach. You can access the webinar via your laptop or smartphone at libertybank.com.
When: Wednesday, Oct.14 at 7pm CST
Where: From your home computer or smartphone
Registration required: libertybank.com
Laura will cover the steps you need to take to get out of student loan debt and also present various repayment options. This is an important webinar for so many people looking for tangible steps to eliminate their debt.
The webinar is one hour long, which includes time for questions and answers. So if you have a burning question about how to pay off student loan debt, you’ll be able to get the answers you need, for free. Topics on the webinar include:
Liberty Bank for Savings — currently celebrating its 117th anniversary — is offering this free webinar as a community service to help indebted student loan borrowers.
To register online or learn about more webinars visit libertybank.com.
This blog post is in partnership with Liberty Bank for Savings. All opinions are my own.
This blog post was written as part of a sponsored program for ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., an Experian Company. All views expressed are entirely my own and were not influenced or directed by Experian. This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.
Several years ago, credit was as vague to me as quantum theory. I wasn’t sure how it worked, why it mattered, and how it impacted me.
Now that I’ve decided to learn all there is about personal finance, I’ve learned a lot about how credit works.
Credit illustrates your ability to borrow money and pay it back on time. Your creditworthiness is illustrated by your credit score, which is a numeric average that helps lenders determine if you’re legit — what’s the likelihood you’ll actually be paying your loan back? Throughout the past few years, I’ve learned some interesting things about how student loans can affect your credit score and thought I’d share with you.
Credit can sometimes be used as a bad word in personal finance, but in actuality, if used correctly, can be a very good thing. Having a diverse credit mix with different types of loans can actually help your credit score, as it shows you are a responsible borrower.
A student loan, which is an installment loan, can add to your credit history. If you make consistent, on-time payments, this will reflect positively on your credit score. For me, having a student loan was what actually put my credit score on the map.
As some of you may know, I didn’t get my first credit card until two years ago when I was 28 years old. In other words, I didn’t have any other credit aside from my student loan. Due to my positive repayment history, I’ve maintained a Good to Excellent credit score throughout my adult life. While student loan debt is no fun, it can help build your credit if you make on-time payments.
Lee Siegel made headlines this year with his story of defaulting on his student loans and pretty much encouraged others to do the same.
The article made me cringe as it didn’t discuss in detail just how dire defaulting actually is and how it affects your financial life. Not only can your wages be garnished by the government, but your credit score will tank and your loans could be put into collections, getting charged even more fees on top of your loans.
Not a pretty picture. If you have student loans, it’s important to make the minimum payments each month. If that’s too much, talk to your lender immediately. Defaulting on your student loans can seriously hurt your credit score, which is a surefire way to cause trouble for yourself down the line.
Your credit score can help you rent an apartment, apply for a credit card, car loan and more. If your credit score is low, doing these things may be difficult.
Want to know something interesting? A few weeks ago, I got a notification from an app that one of my credit accounts had closed and my credit score changed. Paranoid and uncertain, I swiftly logged into my account. While I was typing in the password, I was scanning my mind. “Did I close a credit card? I don’t even know what this is for – what happened?”
In actuality, I had paid off one of my student loans (yay!). Technically, your student loans are a type of credit account and because one of my credit accounts was now closed, my credit score went down a little. Why? Because I don’t have that much revolving credit history (with my credit card) and this was now a change in my credit mix (i.e. my types of loans — installment, which is my student loans and revolving, which is my credit cards).
My credit score only went down a few points, so it was nothing to worry about, but still a surprise nonetheless. In the end, paying off debt is a good step in your repayment history and will ultimately reflect positively on your credit score.
As you can see, your student loans can affect your credit score in a variety of ways. Did anything surprise you? Do you have any other questions on how student loans can affect your credit score?
Hey debt fighters! Are you ready to dump debt? Reclaim your life and finally kick debt to the curb? Well, we have a great dear debt letter for you today from Shirria. Shirria is the personal finance blogger behind www.goaldiggingtohappiness.com. She’s a new blogger so show her your support and say hello! Follow her personal journey to financial freedom, early retirement, and happiness, just one goal at a time!
When we met fourteen years ago, you were the thing of my dreams. You provided me with nice belongings, took me nice places, and made sure my needs were met, especially in emergencies. You were there every step of the way during college and on into adulthood. You provided me with nice cars and even a house that I adore and love!
However, you’ve become a burden. I am tired of you having “first dibs” on the income I work 40 plus hours/week for. I’m tired of thinking of you all the time and how I can get rid of you. You have begun to drain me, my paycheck, and my life. I no longer wish to have the gifts that you provide because I’m aware that it requires me to give more than you have ever given me. I’m so unhappy with you.
As a result, I’m cutting all ties to you. I know it’ll take time but I’m committed and focused!
Soon to be free from you!
P.S. Did you know I could have had everything that you’ve given me without you? Go figure!
September is Life Insurance Awareness month and this post is in partnership with TermLifeInsurance.com, which helps spread awareness of the importance of term life insurance. Learn more about how you can protect your family and your finances.
“Rich people plan for three generations . Poor people plan for Saturday night” – Gloria Steinem
When I first read this quote, it stung a little. It stung because I didn’t want to believe it, but when I thought about it, it’s kind of true.
Rich people tend to plan ahead for generations to come, whereas others are thinking about what to do on the weekend. I’ve been guilty of this line of thinking, simply looking ahead, but not really thinking about the long-term. But looking ahead and planning now can help you protect yourself, your family and your finances.
Though I grew up with everything I needed, my parents and grandparents grew up with very little means — it was hard to plan ahead financially with such little resources.
I’ve written before about my grandmother who was a single mom to six kids trying to make ends meet. After my grandfather’s death, the family was left with next to nothing and my grandmother valiantly carried the weight and supported the family working a variety of jobs. I’ve also talked about how my mom is the sole income earner in my family.
In situations like this, where there is one income earner, life insurance is imperative to protect those left behind who relied on the breadwinner for support.
Life insurance can help cover the costs associated with the funeral and also provide much-needed funds to cover the loss of income, so that the family can carry on as best they can.
While life insurance undoubtedly helps married couples and those with kids, it can also benefit borrowers with student loans, as well as co-signers on the loan.
While some student loan debt is discharged upon death, some debt may linger on and be transferred to your family, especially if they are a co-signer. A co-signer is legally responsible for your debt and if you die, the burden of debt then falls to them.
On the other hand, if your co-signer, such as a parent or grandparent passes away, that could trigger an automatic default, which means that the remaining balance is due immediately.
Dealing with a death in the family is already heartbreaking and having to deal with financial stress on top of that is salt on the wound.
In personal finance, we often talk about the value of saving, paying off debt, and investing. Yet, we rarely discuss the benefits of insurance.
Life insurance may seem like “just another thing” or an unnecessary expense, but for the price of a dinner out each month you can protect your family and sleep well at night knowing you won’t leave them in shambles should you pass away unexpectedly.
And isn’t that what being rich is all about? Being rich isn’t so much about your net worth, but the ability to take care of yourself and your family, without worry, when the worst of life hits.
The end is near. I see myself breaking free from your chains in the not-so-distant future.
While my heart yearns to break free from you and get my life back on track after you’ve bankrupted me, I’m scared.
I’m scared to be alone. You were my first love right after college. You made me feel important, like I was worth something.
Everything I’ve ever known in this life, I’ve known it with you.
Who am I, if not standing in your shadow? After nearly a decade together, I don’t know who I am without you.
Debt, you were there to get me through college. You helped me go to my dream school. You pushed me harder and harder, just so I could keep up with you.
You’ve pushed me so hard, that I thought I might never come back. But I also don’t want to focus only on the bad stuff. I know you’ve given me many opportunities, too. Without you, I might have never gone to college. I wouldn’t have the career I have today.
It’s all because you pushed me. For better or worse. But it’s my time now to figure out who I am without you.
I don’t love you anymore and quite frankly, I don’t need you anymore either. I’m scared to be without you, but this is a path I must walk alone.
Do you want to write your own dear debt letter? I’m always accepting submissions!
One of the main reasons I started Dear Debt was to inspire people to get out of debt — to create a community of like-minded people, who shared their struggles with debt, as well as their dreams about what life is like after it’s all paid off.
I’ve been “lucky” in that my only debt is from student loans. Heck, I didn’t even get my first credit card until two years ago! But I know many of you out there are struggling with sky-high interest rates and are buried in credit card debt.
I can only imagine how frustrating it is — especially with interest rates that can be around 20 percent or more.
A year ago, I would have told you to hunker down and limit your spending and hustle like crazy to pay down your credit card debt. That part is still true.
But there’s an extra layer that I think can make the process a whole lot easier: the Payoff Loan™.
The Payoff Loan™ may help borrowers with credit card debt simplify their payments and pay much less in interest. So instead of paying multiple credit cards and paying exorbitant interest rates, you’d pay one loan at a (potentially) better rate.
Borrowers can get a Payoff Loan™ from $5,000 to $25,000 at fixed rates between 8 and 22 percent APR with a repayment term of 2-5 years (your choice). If you can get a better rate with Payoff than your credit card, this makes financial sense.
Currently, the Payoff Loan™ is not yet available in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
To be eligible, candidates need to have a FICO score of 660 or higher with a debt-to-income ratio less than or equal to 50 percent.
Aside from making financial sense, I’ve worked closely with the people at Payoff, and they are legit.
They are real deal people (Yes! You can talk to real people from their awesome member experience team!) who care about getting people out of debt, because they realize that life is so much more than a debt payment.
What I like about them is their transparency. They clearly state there are no application fees, no prepayment penalties, no late fees, no annual fees, and more.
You can fill out a quick application to check out your potential rate, with no impact on your credit score. If you find something you like, you choose an offer and receive the money in the bank.
Pay off those pesky cards, save money on interest, and simplify your bills.
So, who do I think this is right for? People struggling with credit card debt who are ready to dump that debt.
However, here’s the crucial part. You have to be ready and understand the root cause of why you got into debt in the first place. No consolidation or refinancing plan will work if you keep borrowing as a band-aid.
So, if you have treated the root cause of being in debt (living beyond means, not making enough, not having an emergency fund, etc.), I think this can potentially be a great option.
As I mentioned, I don’t have credit card debt, so don’t have firsthand experience with the loan, but I do know that I trust Payoff and they are good people. They get what it’s all about and want to see people succeed.
So, if you are in credit card debt, Payoff is another option to look into. As always, do your research, understand the terms, and do what is best for your situation. Remember, I’m not a financial expert 😉
But I do want to share cool products and services, knowing that they could potentially help someone.
I’m an affiliate of Payoff, so if you use my link, I’ll get a bonus to help Dear Debt keep going. As always, I only write about things I’m truly passionate about — because let’s be honest, ain’t nobody got time for that!