Transparent & Real – Let’s Talk Money

Hey Saltee People,

This post is a different then my normal posts.  I am talking  – MONEY, how I got into debt and how I got out.  I want to clarify, I have no background in financial planning, and I am just sharing my personal experiences to possibly help others.  I also want to say, I know I am super lucky to have the support of my family and I know not everyone has the same support that I do.  What I really want to focus on though, is the mindset I had to put myself in and how I really had to change my lifestyle.

My RelationshipMoney:

I got my first job when I was 15 and worked ever since.  I understood that to get what I wanted I would have to earn it and work for it myself.  I worked through college and when I turned 21, I moved out and became “financially independent”.  I have always loved shopping, and going out to eat with my friends.  My mom had a plan set in place to help me save and I definitely just threw that out the window and decided that being on my own, and socializing was more important to me than saving at the time.

The past few years I have struggled with financially.  Honestly I would say I really haven’t made any responsible financial decisions until I found out I was pregnant. I will say that I feel like this story and how I got myself into debt is important. If you’re just here for tips, scroll because I do have a list of things that helped.  Here we go, let’s dive in.

How I got into Debt:

With in the last three years at my all time low, I was roughly $15,000 in credit card debt.  Want to ask me what I bought and figure out exactly how I got there? Honestly, no clue.  It was a spiral.  It started when I was younger and would put clothes on a credit card for fun and dinner and just fun, unnecessary stuff.  Come May 2018 I moved out of my parents house – for the principle.  They had said, I could keep living at home but they wanted to start charging me “rent”.  Literally it was only $200 but me being me, I decided NOPE.  I moved out, and started paying roughly $900 a month to live with one of my besties in PB.

This was SO fun.  But looking back, I’m like damn.  I lived paycheck to paycheck but I definitely didn’t live like it. A few months after I moved out my phone broke and then my laptop broke.  So what did I do? I put it on my credit card.  I know dumb.  I felt like I was stuck.  I felt like I had no choice.  Instead of this being my reality check, I still lived and spent like I didn’t pay $900 a month for rent and spent frivolously.  It’s honestly embarrassing.  I’m cringing as I write this.  It got to the point where I was not longer using my credit card for fun, I was using it to live.  So yeah, long story short.  I was in serious debt.

Making Changes for the Better:

There was a point where I had to decide to completely stop using ALL of my credit cards.  It was tough.  I had to make a calendar of when things like insurance and payments would be taken out of my checking account, when I would get paid and really focus on what I was spending my money on.  It was WILD.  Most of it was food, shopping and alcohol.  Once this happened I started paying down my debt.  At first it felt like I could do it, but then I realized how much a month I was paying in interest –  roughly an extra $100.  That was when I decided I needed to move.  My lease was up in June 2019 and I made the move and rented a room for $500 a month in the subarbs.  I didn’t’ go out as much, stopped shopping and I really felt like I was starting to get it under control. I also started my new job at Reef in September, so I started making more money that I was working retail. I felt so confidant, and ready to finally tackle the debt that had been looming over my head.

A few months later it’s November and over time I  managed to pay my debt down to $7381.86 to be exact.  I knew that within the next year, hopefully sooner I would be completely debt free.  That was a really exciting thing and I only wanted to continue paying it off at an exponential rate.  I found out that I was pregnant November 12th.  This ROCKED my world.  I could not bring a child into the world with thousands of dollars in credit card debt and the interest was just piling on the longer it took me.  If it was just me, sure I could stomach that.  But in reality pregnant or not what I did next, I should’ve done a long time ago.

I went to my mom for help.  I knew that if I kept paying interest I would pay an extra $1000 or so.  At this time I was still working retail and not making great money. So that day, when I told her I was pregnant we called Chase bank and she loaned me the money to payoff my credit card, all 7381.86.  Trust me, I realize how lucky I am to have a family who can do this for me.  I realize I should’ve asked for help sooner.  But it really all came down to pride.  Did I want my mom reminding me I am in debt every time I go out to eat? Did I want to have someone else remind me of the embarrassing, difficult situation I got myself into? NO.  No one wants that feeling. But, at this point I knew this was my priority.  Being debt free before the baby came became my focus.

After living on my own for a year and half, I moved into Chris’s parents house.  Once again, I know I am SO lucky to have family that supports us the way our families have.  Regardless, this was a difficult transition.  Figuring out the dynamics that work for all of us and making sure I have my space, being respectful of theirs and still maintaining a great relationship with them is a learning process.  No one wants to say they are 23, pregnant and living with their in laws.  But that’s my reality and I am so thankful for them.  I truly believe putting aside my pride/privacy/comfort level and moving in with my in laws has made the BIGGEST difference and has really allowed me to succeed now and build a better future for myself and my family.

It’s a really hard thing to go from living your life spending blindly and then transitioning to looking at yourself and realizing you got yourself into a deep hole.  I was in denial for a really long time, $15,000 long.   From stopping my spending, to living at home, eliminating interest, and help from Chris, I was able to pay my mom back in four months exactly.  I kept a log month to month with the balance I owed and how much I paid each month.  I also added a formula to the cells so that when I would log a payment it would automatically deduct that and show the new amount that I owed.  Starting to November 12th to March 12th.  Today I finally get to say I am debt free.

Where I am at Now:

I feel freaking AMAZING.  I am now obsessed with saving my money and watching my debt go down was THE best feeling.  Here is a list of what I feel really made the difference:

  1. Looking at where my money went –  One day I went through my debit card expenses and literally categorized each dollar I spent.  This was SO eye opening to how I spent my money and how little expenses can add up.
  2. . Putting aside my pride.  I DID NOT want to ask anyone for help.  I felt like I got myself into the mess and I would get myself out.  I ended up having to get to a place where I could mentally accept my mom’s help and Chris’s help to get me to be debt free.
  3. Making a chart.  Visually seeing a timeline, with a set deadline, what I owed and what I had paid made a huge difference.  Inputting my payments and watching that balance go down made me SO happy and it’s truly motivate me more.
  4. Un-following shops and brands on instagram.  I obviously didn’t unfollow all of the brands I love but I really did have to take the temptation out of my life to spend.
  5. Being transparent with your friends.  This can be wildly uncomfortable.  No one wants to admit they feel behind. If you explain to your friends about where you are in your life, they will understand! I promise you.

To wrap this monster of a blog post up, I want to reflect and say I wish getting pregnant wasn’t what had to spark me into overdrive.  I truly wish that I would’ve had a “savers” mentality for my whole life.  Maybe you read this and get motivated to pay off your own debt, maybe you read this as a precautionary tale, maybe you read this and know you’re already there.  Either way, I felt that not enough people are real about where they are in their lives when it comes to their financial status.  Especially on instagram!  You would think all of the instagram models are making 6 figures and living in a mansion with a private jet because the photos everyone is posting.  SO here I am telling you where I’m really at.

The next goal for Chris and I is to buy our first home.  I hope in a year from now I can say we have reached out goal and write a blog post about how we got there. This was a SUPER personal post, and sharing those numbers isn’t something I am super comfortable with.  But THIS IS REAL.  I truly hope you guys got something from this.

Stay Sweet,

Annalisa

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