If you have been following me for a while, then you know I am on a journey to financial freedom, and I have been doing a damn good job. I have paid off so much debt since 2015 and I am happy that I am now in the place that I want to be – closer to my goal of being completely debt free. On this journey I have made a few unwise decisions that ended up not being costly, but they could have, so let me get real real with y’all.
For past financial posts, click here.
Now, I have officially paid off one credit card, Texas Teachers (my alternative teacher certification program) and I am on a payment plan with another credit card that will be paid off real soon. In the midst of having no credit cards, I unwisely decided to get an Amazon credit card and a Capital One credit card, both with extremely high interest rates, I’m talking 24.99%. Yikes!
Now in getting the Amazon credit card, I figured it was a good idea because I shop on Amazon like nobody’s business. The downside is with a credit card, you tend to shop more because it’s not your money. With that being said, I became behind on payments and they lowered my credit limit. By the grace of the universe, I finally got my first unemployment check and with that, I paid off that Amazon card. Will I close it? Maybe, maybe not, but I will by using my own money from now on.
With the Capital One credit card, I got that because I didn’t know if I was going to have a job and I had received my last check from my last job. I got it in case of emergency. Luckily, I ended up getting the perfect job and didn’t have to use it, though I did have to to pay my health insurance, but upon receiving that unemployment check, I paid it off as soon as it hit my account.
Now I am back at a 0 balance with both cards. I actually will be closing the Amazon one and keeping the Capital One card for emergencies only. I am happy that I have become financial smarter when making decisions. The old me would’ve taken that unemployment check and when crazy with it. I also received a check from my bank for the hurricane, which was surprising, and that is just going to sit in the bank.
This last credit card that I have to pay off will be paid off by December. I want no debt other than student loans and the note for my new car, going into the new year. I vowed to myself that those would be my only debts for 2018, and look at me now, making it happen.
So tell me, what were your financial goals this year and have you achieved them? If so, how? If not, what is your plan moving forward?
I have been on a “kicking debt’s ass” journey for the past couple of years. I am so determined to be out of debt at 30 and so far, I am on the right road. In the past couple of years I have paid off a credit card ($2500), a personal loan ($3500), the IRS ($500), medical expenses ($200) and as of this month my teacher certification program ($400). Altogether that is $7,100 in two years. That may not seem like a lot to those who have paid off more, but for someone with similar debts as myself, that is a lot, especially considering my main sources of income.
If I still lived at home, I would be halfway through my loans and my car would be paid off, but life happens and circumstances arise. How did I pay off these debts, you may ask? Here are somethings I did and somethings that others I know have done:
- Cut my cable and got an Amazon Fire Stick. It is the best decision ever. I was late to the game, but better late than never right? I know many people who have taken this route and noticed how much money they were spending on cable.
- Meal prep and cook at home more. This is a huge thing to cut money and to cut weight, being that we are the fattest country in the world. Meal prep saves you from cooking during the week and from putting on those extra pound.
- Upwork is a freelance site that I use to ghostwrite, edit novels, papers, essays and so much more. There are all kinds of freelance jobs on there from virtual assistant to graphic designer. Find your niche and get to work.
- GrubHub, DoorDash, UberEats and Postmates are other ways many millennials are making money. They’re like Uber and Lyft, but for food. Someone orders food, you pick it up and deliver it.
- Kick your Starbucks habit. I would be afraid to see how much some of you spend on Starbucks in a year and I am sure y’all are too.
- Apply for odd jobs like dog walking, babysitting, personal assistant, in home cleaning jobs, etc.
- Buy clothes from thrift stores and secondhand shops. $300 purses and shoes are not necessary and will not add value to your life.
There are so many ways to save and make money to get out of debt, you just have to be willing to make sacrifices.
Other Financial Posts:
As of today, I have paid off two debts. Wooohooo! That is a huge accomplishment. I have paid off the IRS and a personal loan. Two steps close to being debt free! Even though those are two milestones, I am not ready to celebrate just yet. When I pay off my two credit cards, I will really celebrate. Those are the most important things right now (other than moving out of my mother’s house).
I am so happy to no longer have these two debts hanging over my head. Now I can really focus and go for the gold. I am in the process of getting two new hustles so I can have more sources of income. Right now I have three sources of income and I am working on a fourth and fifth. My hustle game will be strong this summer.
I have so many goals that I want to accomplish on my vision board. Even though that’s only $3000 that I have paid off in three months, it is still an accomplishment. That extra money that was going towards those debts, will go towards these credit cards. I am so serious, like y’all don’t even know how hard I am about to hustle to get these debts paid off as quick as possible. Then to top it off, I still have student loans. This will be a summer of absolute grinding.
Let me know if you have paid off any debts and if you have some tips for paying them off faster.
Journey to Financial Freedom,
Afro Hippie Vegan
DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A FINANCIAL COACH OR ADVISOR
Out of all Americans, my people are the most in debt. We have the highest debts, even those of us who live in low income areas. Why? I blame lack of knowledge, the environment, rappers, Black reality shows, financial ignorance, etc. There are many things to blame and I want to express my reasons for a few.
Everyone wants to be a rapper nowadays. To most it is the quickest way to get rich and they all want money to throw on cars, clothes, jewelry, etc. These rappers promote a lifestyle that is not attainable by most, and this keeps my people down, struggling, dying and who knows what else. This lifestyle that so many want to attain, is not even real. These rappers aren’t happy with this lifestyle and are selling their souls to promote it. All these rappers rap about are drugs, sex, women, drinking, cars and money. But reality is, most of these rappers have never experienced any of the things I listed above. My people, stop letting these rappers lyrics fill your head with empty hopes and dreams. Either the person becomes broke, lands in jail or is murdered for not paying their dealer on time, in full. Yeah, drug dealers don’t have payment plans.
Excuse my French, but reality television is shit and it is a damn shame that my own people would act so ignorant, foolish and like a stereotype for the entire world to see, just for a paycheck. Why would anyone want to be like that? This shows us in a bad light and we watch it, wanting to be like them and have money and be fancy and show off for people when we don’t even have that kind of money. Many of these reality stars don’t have that kind of money. Stop going broke just to be able to promote ignorance like these reality stars. Many of these reality stars are doing reality television because they are broke and in debt. That is not an excuse but it’s the truth.
Lack of Knowledge
Many of our parents grew up poor and in low income areas. We tend to be like our parents because they are our first teachers. We mimic what they do. Many of our parents didn’t finish school or get a proper education and some of us fall victim to that. They didn’t have the mindset of wanting to get out and not be like their parents, which causes them to make horrendous financial choices, then we follow suit. Many of our parents didn’t and still don’t know about credit cards, loans and any money that you have to pay back. This is our downfall. Many credit companies target Black people to get them in debt and keep them slave to a system that has been out to destroy us. I fell victim to that.
Because of a want for diversity, many colleges target kids in low income areas, bribing them with huge scholarships, not telling them that eventually they will have to take out student loans. This false advertisement is for the student to come to their school so that the school gets money, with no regards to that student’s financial future. Schools purposely do this because they know these kids can’t afford to go to college, and even though they may drop out, the schools still get that money. Or you have those like myself who did not qualify for free money and had to take out student loans my entire college career with no knowledge of how loans would affect me financially.
There are many other reasons like credit cards, not being able to manage money, the death of a family member who’s financial burden falls on you and so much more, but this post would be exceptionally long. There are so many factors that play a part in why Black people are in so much debt. I want my people to educate themselves on credit cards, loans, leases, mortgages, anything that requires money. Below are some resources to help you out.
Afro Vegan Hippie
DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A FINANCIAL ADVISOR OR COACH.
Editor’s note: I noticed that I had forgot to include that I owed the IRS money in my last post. I owed them almost $500 and as of yesterday, have paid them off. That freed up $25 every month that is now going to one of my credit card payments.
In my search for ways to get out of debt quick, I found there is no quick way to pay off debts when you work as a substitute teacher, part-time tutor, and freelancer. It’s just not going to happen. Nevertheless, I have created a plan and I have been sticking to it.
- In my last post I talked about a personal loan I took out with the bank due to my job at the time not paying me. Because I was so behind on payments, it went to collections. I knew nothing about collections or what it was. It just so happened that I watched a scope about how you can “pay to delete” a debt that has gone to collections. What this means is, you can pay a certain amount, less than what is owed, to have the debt removed. I was elated when I heard this. My loan started at $2500 but was $1500 when it went to collections because I had been paying what I could on it. Anyway, instead of paying the debt collector the entire amount, I ended up only having to pay $876. That’s a little over half of what I owed. This happens because the debt collectors buy the debt for like 10% or so of what the debt actually is. Granted 10% is $150 but of course they won’t let you pay that. They have to make a profit. But $876 is better than $1500. Now, I only have $200 left to pay on it (which will be paid at the end of this month) and that debt will be done.
- My two credit cards are maxed out and since I am behind on those payments, the accounts have been closed. I have been paying on one consistently to lower it and pay it off faster. $200 here, $100 there, as much as I can afford to pay without risking going hungry or without a car because I can’t pay for gas.
- As for my car, I have been making regular payments only because I am paying so much on my credit card. Once that credit card is done, then the next, my car will be the last thing that I owe my bank. Boy, I can’t wait for that day.
- My student loans are in forbearance for now and they will be until I can get a teaching job to pay them. I am praying that one of these schools calls me soon and I can start paying on them in the fall. I know that after working for five years as a teacher, the loans are forgiven, but um, that is not soon enough.
This is my plan to get out of debt. Come back next Friday to see how to manage your debt.
Love and Finances,
DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A FINANCIAL ADVISOR OR COACH
My goal is to be out of debt by this time next year. This goal is still feasible but I am not going to stress myself trying to make it happen. I owe $21k in student loans and $10k+ to my bank. So, in essence, I owe over $31k. I know that’s a lot and being that I will be a full time teacher in the fall, it’s manageable. Now, you may be wondering how I plan to get out of debt by this time next year. I will save that for next Friday, but first, let’s talk about how I got in debt.
- As for student loans, I mean that’s self explanatory. Many of you reading this have four year degrees of some sort and racked in a surplus of loans. We all know what a pain in the ass they are. I know some of you may have more and some of you may have less. But yeah, being the child of parents who made too much money, I did not receive any free money. My four years in college were borrowed. Originally I owed $26k, but now it’s $21k (interest). I will talk about how I paid that down next Friday.
- I got my first credit card in college because I heard that was the thing to do. It was a way to get credit and before I know that having a credit score was BS, I wanted to have a line of credit. My limit was $2500 and I maxed it out quickly and not by going on shopping sprees. Soon as I got the credit card, my car broke down. The A/C went out, my fan broke, I had to replace all four tires. That $2500 went fast and not by choice either. It seems every time you get more money, something always happens to where you have to spend it. Just my luck, my car hated me. I eventually had to get a new one. All that money just wasted.
- I got my second credit card a few years after the first because I was working for a nonprofit organization and I could not make ends meet. I was legit struggling. I never made it to my next paycheck without being in the negative. That one maxed out pretty quickly due to more unforeseen events. That limit, too, was $2500. So now I am at $5k that I owe my bank.
- I then took out a loan for $2500 from my bank because I worked for another nonprofit, and the last month of my contract, they decided to not pay me and it was two months before I got a paycheck from my next job. I was pissed. I had no money to pay bills, buy food, put gas in my car, nothing. So that put me at $7.5k that I owed my bank. Oh, it gets better.
- Remember how I had to get a new car? My old car was paid off and I am so sad that I ended up having to get a new car. So, I had to take out an auto loan to get my new car and that was $9500. That put me at owing my bank $17,000! Yes, all to my bank. I cried a lot because I was like on top of loans, how am I going to swing this?
This is how I got in debt, not by careless spending (that’s how I stayed in debt and still am), but by unforeseen events. I couldn’t help any of my situations. Stay tuned for the next Financial Friday post to see how I now only owe my bank $10k and my loans are now $21k, and how I am paying some of my debts down.
DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A FINANCIAL COACH OR CONSULTANT
In the past month or so, I stumbled upon a guy on Periscope named Shanaan Dawda. He is a financial coach and I have heard several different financial coaches but his scopes caught my attention. For starters, he’s only two years older than me and he has paid off all of his student loans. That’s unheard of for people my age! I mean, it really is. The average millennial has $29,000 in student loans (I have $21,000) and many of us are living paycheck to paycheck. We are barely making ends meet and it’s really hard when you have a four year degree and don’t have a job to pay for it.
Anyway, listening to his scopes are so inspiring and they give me so much hope. I even bought his book, From Paychecks to Power and I have been reading it continuously. I have not finished it because at a certain point it talks about after you get out of debt and I want to wait until I am completely debt free to finish.
He talks about his financial blunders and being scammed, he even had his identity stolen. He talks about a typical college student trying to make money the fastest way possible. He then explains about his parents being in debt and how he doesn’t want to end up like them.
The best thing about this book that has helped me is he financial plan. He talks about finances in his scopes and he really breaks it down. He spills all the tea and that is really what many people, young and old, need to hear. I wish there was a curriculum like this in high school to really explain to us the damage of credit cards and student loans.
He even talks about how he has a credit score of zero because he doesn’t borrow. If you can’t pay cash for it, then you don’t need to buy it. He gives so much insight, and he is a CPA, so he knows what he’s talking about. He paid off over $26,000 in just 11 months and that is admirable. Granted I don’t make nearly as much money as he was making when he was making these financial gains, but I am on a get out of debt plan that is in his book.
I won’t go into detail about the book, but he tells a lot of secrets in the book and on his scopes that many of us believe the opposite from what we are told by money hungry banks and sales people. I can say that if I get a teaching position that I will be able to pay off my debts by this time next year. All my debts paid before I’m 30??? I mean how good will that be? Then I can do whatever I want.
I have made a vow to myself to never get another credit card or loan as long as I live. If I cannot outright pay for it, that means my behind does not need it. We always tend to buy things we don’t need, nor can we afford. We need to stop it, immediately. Have you ever thought about how our country is in debt and 76% of us are living paycheck to paycheck because we are in debt?
We buy things that we can’t afford to impress people that we don’t even like and/or who don’t even care. Let’s be honest, we care way too much about what other people think and about showing others up. If you can’t put a significant down payment on a house, don’t buy it. If you can’t pay cash for a car, don’t buy it. I want a tiny house, something small, moveable and costs less than college tuition.
In America, we seriously have some unrealistic goals and expectations. We are more about what we can show people than what we can afford. We would rather be in debt than to have someone have more than us. We put more value in stuff than our finances. It’s really sad.
Set some short term financial goals and I will see you guys next Friday with the first task!