Meet Latoya! A writer for hire who loves talking about budgets and money. She is currently paying off $79,000 in student loans and living to tell about it. She’s a full-time, work-at-home mama who shares her journey over at lifeandabudget.com. Enjoy her money story! p.s. If you would like to be featured as part of this series please send an email to [email protected], subject line "My Money Story Feature Request".
What was your "enough is enough" moment regarding your debt?
My "enough" moment was really more of a progression to an ideal place of wanting to be free from past decisions that were still haunting me. During college, I made some of the worst financial decisions of my life. Now that I have cleaned up my act considerably, I want to let go of the student loans. Much of that student loan debt I didn't even really need. I just used it as a crutch and looking back I realize how much of a mistake it was. I'm ready to do new things and I feel once that debt is behind me, I can move forward at a faster pace than I have been.
How much debt have you paid off in total?
Honestly, not much. In 2008 after graduating from college, I was in debt up to a tune of $95,000 dollars (including student loans). I filed bankruptcy (I've shared my story here if you're interested in reading it) and kept a car loan in the amount of $7,000. I used that loan to rebuild my credit and recover financially from bankruptcy. I paid that car off in December of 2009. Now I'm focusing on paying of my student loans that have grown 11 percent since graduation.
"During college, I made some of the worst financial decisions of my life."
How do you keep yourself motivated?
I keep myself motivated by writing down my problems (the debt) and acting on the solutions I've created. I make one milestone and I don't get comfortable. I just focus on doing what's next so I continue to progress. My end goal is to have my student loans paid off in full within the next 5 (or less) years. The ability to use those payments and applying them to creating passive income is A LOT of motivation!
"My end goal is to have my student loans paid off in full within the next 5 (or less) years."
How do you manage the days where you just wanted to go out and spend money?
I'm a lazy shopper. Matter of fact, I actually hate shopping now! It's something I'm grateful for because it keeps me out of stores. I plan days when I go to the stores and I avoid weak spots (like Target) by having household items we need to be shipped directly to our home. I rarely go to stores anymore unless we really need something. Another area I'm working on is the grocery store and when I'm tempted to go there for something we really don't need, I look at a picture of Beyonce and just remind myself that she gave up Popeye's Chicken to have that body, so I must give up whatever vice I have to get mine, lol!
"I plan days when I go to the stores and I avoid weak spots ."
What would be your money advice to your 21 year old self?
Honestly, I would admit to myself that I'm depressed and I need medical help, not retail therapy. Many of my weak moments with credit cards and accruing debt I shouldn't have was a direct result of not dealing with my mental health issues. I've dealt with them and I know it's had a big impact on my not needing to go out and spend money.
What steps are you taking to ensure your debt freedom is permanent?
My debt freedom from consumer debt - I'm ensuring it's permanent by continuing to take care of myself physically and mentally so I don't fall back into a state of depression. I'm so focused on my goals now, that the thought of swiping a credit card for a COACH purse or a pair of Nine West shoes (some of my favorite things) actually make me anxious. If I want those things and feel the need to splurge, one of my 15 or so savings accounts with Capital One can hold the funds until I have enough to indulge myself.