Light Bulb Moment

I had my “financial awakening” moment circa fall of 2004 when I was watching a show on T.V. Some of you must have a better, more solid, life changing “financial awakening” but this was mine. I was just flipping through the channels and I came across the Suze Orman Show. It is a T.V. show that talks about finance and how to manage it. I was just drawn to Suze’s advice to the callers whose have had financial troubles. Her advice were very inspiring and honest. I could totally relate to the callers. It felt like… Suze was talking to me in person! This show changed my life.

I reflected on myself at that moment and really thought through about my life. How I feel about my life. What I want to do with it. I dug deep. The result? I felt unsecured. I felt lonely even when I had the things that made me happy. I felt powerless. Where is this coming from? Why? Because I didn’t have savings and I was drowning in credit card debt. It felt like I was in a prison. My debt was my prison. What would happen to me if something comes up? I had to do something.

The Details 

So, I made a plan. A plan to eliminate the entire debt . I used the following strategies to get out of debt.

1.) Leave Credit and Debit Cards at home

This really worked for me. This way, I was not tempted to use the cards because I don’t have them. I did not cut the plastic cards or freezed them or burned them. I just left them at home. As simple as that.

2.) Be a Cash Diva

I lived off of cash. Yes. I went back to the basics. The basics that my great grandmother and your great grandmother used way back…may they rest in peace. I used cash in all of my purchases with the exception of the bills that can be paid online. It felt like I was a caveman at first but to my surprise, it worked! The reasoning behind this is, you actually know how much cash you have left in your wallet versus using credit cards where you can’t keep track your spending instantly.

3.) Don’t Use Your Credit Cards… Until They’re PAID OFF

This is like the last nail to #1 to seal the deal. Whenever I got my paycheck, I paid way more than the minimum balance payment on my card. Whenever I got extra money, it went to my debt. I was in a “pay pay pay” mode. 

4.) Keep Thyself MOTIVATED

This is probably the most important out of all the four. I surrounded myself with whatever motivated me. I kept on watching Suze Orman’s shows every weekends. I’ve read finance books and blogs specifically tailored for getting out of debt. I made an Excel spreadsheet for my debt to keep track of how much more do I have to pay. I also surrounded myself with people that does not spend like it’s the end of the world tomorrow.

Getting rid of debt does not happen on a flick of a finger. It does not happen overnight. It may take weeks, months and even years depending on how much you owe and how motivated you are. It requires a lot of mental preparation. It requires sacrifices. It requires a budget. A system.

I got real. I got real with myself. I spent less than I earned. I realized that I am not defined by the material things that I have but by the depth of my character. I learned to appreciate the little things in life. I learned to discipline myself. I stopped impressing people.

Before I knew it, all of my credit card debt was gone! None. Nada. Zero balance. Wheeew! And it’s true as of today.

It is not impossible. It is not a rocket science. I believe that you can do it too. It’s just a matter of discipline, planning, willpower and motivation.

Are you ready to pay off your debt?