I know you want the details and here they go…
It’s 2017, I’m 28, still in debt and stressed. So I start looking for a financial therapist. I found a therapist but I needed a financial coach. I also needed this to be cheap or better yet, free. I’m already in debt and didn’t want to add more. So after much googling I come across this non-profit program called Project Money. This is a state program that provides you a financial coach for the FREE. Mind blown! Of course you have to qualify for it which I barely did. After much discussion I was in and I was ready….
I’m extremely over organized and pride myself on having a plan. So of course I already have a budget, I’ve already made plans and everything. So I walk in the first day with a plan to meet my financial counselor Kelley. Kelley is this very cute and sweet black woman with kids my age. She had volunteered as a financial coach for several years. They give me this binder with my name on it to track my spending, create monthly budgets and make attainable goals. In addition to meeting with her for an hour, I had group meetings with others in the program.
6 Months With A Financial Coach
Kelly sat with me and we wrote down all of my bills, we discussed my plans and we discussed my lifestyle. Early on she pointed out that I had very grandiose financial plans that prevent me from being able to maintain the life I have. In doing so, I don’t meet my goals and often steer off course creating more debt. She was right! I would create an unattainable savings goal or pay off goal without taking into consideration the cost of my hair, gas, food and just things for myself. So our first course of action was to write a budget that took into account all of my expenses, then we began to cut costs. I was able to cut my cell phone bill from $105 to $60. After negotiating the price of my phone down from $200 to $90 I purchased my iPhone 6 from Sprint and switched over to Verizon Prepaid. I know there is a stigma for some around a prepaid phone but I’d rather save money and Verizon’s prepaid was inexpensive with great service. I started with the 10 GB plan but downgraded to the 7 GB plan when I realized I don’t use all of my data and it rolls over. So since last Aug I’ve saved $405.
Next I analyzed my car insurance, made sure I wasn’t buying too much insurance and then shopped for a cheaper option. In the past I had Esurance and paid $97 a month. Then the price went up to $117 a month. A $20 difference that would be $120 more in the long run. So I switched to Geico which was cheaper at the time at about $108 a month. Then when it was time to renew. I switched back to Esurance and paid a lump sum in the amount of $533 for 6 months, that equaled out to about $88 a month. Massive savings in my mind.
Next I began trying to stick to my budget which was hard. It took me months to give up eating at the vending machine each day at work. Over time I drastically reduced eating out. I have a degree in buying and shopping is one of my favorite things. I didn’t buy clothes for months so my outlet was grocery shopping. I love cooking so my grocery budget is $200 a month. Yes for one person. Rose isn’t cheap! I worked hard to stick to my grocery budget by shopping at 4 different grocery stores including Aldi and Trader Joe’s.
Over the summer at my small pool party with my really good friends I announced that I’m striving for financial freedom. I set the precedent that I wouldn’t always be able to go out and spend with them. I also let them know I was (and still am) planning to be debt free by 32 (no student loans!) I passionately spoke on being debt free, building financial wealth and being a rich bitch. One of my friends told me a couple months later that our discussion lit a fire under her to turn her blog into a business and it’s paid for her wedding. This really encourage me and made me want to later share this story.
A major turning point was my 1st side hustle. Farnoosh Torabi always talks about side hustles and I started realizing most of my peers have side hustles. As a digital marketing manager with an expertise in social media I decided to open myself up to doing that and landed a social media management gig. This increased my monthly income by 50%. MAJOR GAME CHANGER! With the influx of cash, I reverted back to my drastic saving/payoff mentality. Kelley quickly pointed this out. I divided the money up in 3 categories and allocated a percentage to each.
- Debt Payoff – 43%
- Savings – 43%
- Might As Well – 14%
The Might As Well fund was for me to spend on whatever I wanted. Kelley really pushed the idea of still treating myself to the things I wanted and enjoying my money. It was logical.
Day one I was shocked by group meetings. I resented this group meeting because I didn’t want to share my story with these people but it ended up being amazing. There were people there just to obtain financial literary, there were people there with a lot of debt, and there were people who lost everything and had to rebuild their credit. These group meetings were a safe haven to share your story and learn from others. It was always fun to sit and talk about building credit, investing, saving, different tax laws and just money in general. It was a great learning experience.
Mindset In 2018
This year I’m laser focused. By the end of this year I’ll have paid off my car and all of my debt aside from my student loans. This will be a major shift for me as I focus on financial freedom. I don’t have nearly as much debt as many around me or the average American household BUT I don’t care what other people are doing. I only care about where I am and where I’m trying to go. In order to create generational wealth I need to live differently. My biggest take away from all of this is that we must be willing to get uncomfortable in order to eventually get
The older I’ve become the more “unapologetically me”, I’ve become. Even with this being the case, sharing my money story has been hard. I like to keep some things private. Over the last year I’ve become very private about my money to people I have been very open with. I’ve decided to share this story on this platform in this way because I want others to learn from my mistakes. Many things in this social media focused world are not what they seem. If my honest story helps one person get fired up to be more fiscally astute then I know this post made a difference.