Becoming Aware of Your Debt
Like the majority of America, I am in debt and struggle with it. According to an article, I read in 2015, 80% of Americans are in debt! Our credit card debt increased 8% from 2016 to 2017. It is estimated that American credit card debt is approximately $905 billion! I don’t want to live in debt, debt is a prison I want to break out of. Getting out of debt is not easy. You don’t usually get into debt overnight. Over the course of 7 years, I got further into debt and I was unaware of what real damage it was causing.
I graduated with a masters degree in 2014. Several months later, I got my first email saying I would need to start paying my student loans soon. Upon logging into my account, I was mortified to see that I had accumulated over $90k in student loan debt. My minimum payment was going to be $1080 a month. Being a single mom on a part-time income, this payment wasn’t possible as I didn’t bring home more than that. I had to apply for income-based repayment. There was no way for me to pay what they were asking. I was approved a month later and my new payment was zero. I paid nothing all year, literally.
2016 is when I started to realize my mistake. I should have been paying something every month. Even $50 a month would have been better than nothing. Interest is a killer, it has increased my debt to well over $100k.
Today, I wish I had been making payments while still in college, been more diligent in searching and applying for scholarships, made better decisions with my money. Now is not the time to reminisce about the past. It is easy to think about what we should have done. It is time to focus on the now, move forward and step up my financial responsibility.
To get a head start on the new year, I started my new habits in December. Notice I didn’t wait until January 1, 2018. It was important to me to start immediately and not to wait. For the last 4 weeks, I have only spent money on any bills/debt and have spent nothing extra. I used to go out to eat a lot and get snacks at Quik Trip but have cut those out in order to spend less.
Over the coming weeks and months I will; continue to work on and fine tune my budget, discover where I can cut spending, and find ways to earn extra money. I’ll learn what works for me and what doesn’t. I won’t let debt get me down.