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On my journey to financial freedom, I often wonder how I ended up with so much debt to begin with. As a single woman, I had ambition and secured my future by pursuing my education before entering the workforce. Why? I had the TIME. Now I am thanking the heavens above that I did that because as a single mother of an infant, there is NO WAY that school would be on the agenda! Between the doctor’s visits, the nap/feeding time scheduling, the career, and the little time I have to shower, eat and nap (no sleeping, just napping), I would not think to commit to a degree. But even in having a degree, was it worth all of the debt I am in now?
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I think about the times I could have taken on contracting projects during school or accepted a higher paying office job instead of committing to graduate studies. I could have been working full time and paid off debt while living in my cousin’s basement! Shoulda, woulda, coulda, right? Wrong! Sure I could have sacrificed a nice apartment and tucked away funds but the truth is, I probably would have spent every dime on a shopping spree or workout DVDs. Yes, we live in a country where there is the temptation to fall into debt every second. But it is ultimately OUR responsibility to just say no!
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For instance, our society tends to expect college graduates to obtain employment quickly, buy a home, start a family, lease 1-2 vehicles, and retire at some point. The reality however, is that there is an unbelievable divorce rate separating families within the first 5 years after the overly expensive wedding/honeymoon; college is much too costly for most to pay off within 10 years of graduating; the car(s) and home could be taken due to late payments; and just when you are ahead, there is either an unforeseen emergency OR you receive numerous offers to obtain MORE debt (ie. Credit cards, loan offers your mail/email). What should you do? Say NO! Believe it or not, you do NOT have to keep acquiring debt. You can build good credit just buy being consistent on a couple credit cards, a lease here or there, and a small loan…that’s it! With the instant gratification of our society, we are often gluttonous in our consumption and shopping (including food). Take a break, slow down, and reevaluate your needs as a household and as a person. Do you really need another workout system when you don’t regularly use what you have?
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Each decision we make is our own and therefore the consequences are ours as well. Sure we live in a world where money seems to talk – everyone wants it, many more want you spend it on what they have. From big box businesses, to accelerated “training” programs, EVERYONE wants you to invest in their big idea by buying from them – but are you investing in yourself? Your family? Your future? Before committing to another pyramid scheme, or investing in a depreciating toy to show status or impress family members think about what the long term costs will be. Talk to your spouse/significant other about your financial plans – that way you are not in the battle alone! Interested in starting a business or pursuing a new venture, do it as a team! No sure who to ask, recruit a finance accountability partner – someone with sound financial advice that wouldn’t lie to you just to make you feel better. Have a spiritual compass? Go to God in prayer…on EVERYTHING! You do not have to make these decisions on your own – and in this way, if you get stuck; you will know how to ask for help so you don’t have to face the debt alone either.