I wasn’t just having financial problems, I was drowning in debt.
I hit rock bottom when my boyfriend of three years broke up with me. With teary eyes and my car packed full of things I left the house I had lived in for the last 2-years — back to mom’s house.
Graciously accepted back home, mom made up a bed for me. An old broken couch in the middle of her dining room. A worn-down sofa with cushions supported by a wood board. I wondered how the hell I let myself get here.
I laid there and thought about all the things I did wrong. With nothing left, nowhere to go, and nowhere to hide from my financial woes, I’d lay in the bed I made for myself.
I had to admit I hadn’t made the best money decisions up to this point, and my financial problems were proving that to be true. My school loans were hitting me hard. I was desperately trying to pay down a massive credit card bill on a waitress’s salary and that new Jeep Wrangler wasn’t making out to be the best investment.
In retrospect, things could have been so much worse, but at the time my debt seem impassable. I became enveloped in my financial woes and they consumed me. It was a rough patch in my life, to say the least.
It made me realize it was time to get serious about my finances.
1. Put your pride aside and admit when you need help
I always felt like I had to go it alone. Like it was shameful to move back in with my mom after living on my own since 18.
I’d had apartments for the last 5 years. I had been working 3–4 jobs at times just to pay rent, all while staying up late nights to finish college papers. I felt good about my hard work.
Hard work builds character right?
You know what else builds character? Humbling yourself. I had to realize that admitting that I needed help, didn’t take away anything I’d worked for — it allowed me to work for better things.
There is this stigma about asking for money help when were drowning and debt. I want to put an end to the money shame once and for all –
There is no shame in admitting you can’t afford something
There is no shame in asking your people you love for help
There is no shame in applying for financial assistance programs
There is no shame in admitting you are having financial problems. Get the assistance you need.
2. Pay Your Bills On Time
How many times has mom stressed to you not to miss a payment, “Your credit score follows you around forever”. I had heard this advice before I was old enough to apply for a credit card.
At 18, this advice doesn’t sink in the same way it does at 25.
You don’t realize that it only takes 1 missed student loan payment and a couple to-little-to-late credit card payments to send your credit score down the drain.
Your credit score doesn’t care if you lost your job, it doesn’t care if you can’t budget correctly. It will come at you with a vengeance later in life.
Please, if you take any advice about anything ever, let it be this — Pay your bills on time.
3. Set money management goals and stick to them (even if they seem impossible)
When I was 22. I told myself that in 2-years, I would buy a home. Which at the time was utterly laughable because I had no money in my savings, the depths of my debt seemed unmountable, and I had no plan for how in the hell I would ever buy a house. It was like throwing a penny in a fountain and hoping your wish would come true.
I’m glad I stuck to my goal even though the odds were stacked against me.
In March 2020, 2-years after finding myself buried in financial problems and living on my moms couch, I bought my first home.
Now there are a lot of variables that go into how I managed to do this – and I will go more in-depth in my “Home Buying in Your 20’s Article”
My house now stands as a testament to me. A constant reminder that no matter how bad things may seem to get, I have the ability to change my life for the better. I have the power to make my dreams a reality even when at times they feel impossible.
What I want to leave you with today is this:
- If you set your mind to something, with a lot of effort and a little luck, you can make it happen.
- Your financial problems do not define you
- Don’t let your current situation determine your goals – you can be drowning in debt one day and a homeowner the next.