Why Ruining My Credit Was The Best Decision Of My Life

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I recently shared my super painful debt story on Chain of Wealth Podcast. This interview inspired me to create this series. Rise From Rock Bottom tells every story from my failure years - and how I overcame it.


 

In 2015, I was under a mountain of debt. I had about $15K in credit card debt and a $25K car loan on a Mercedes Benz. If that wasn't bad enough, I also had a luxury apartment that easily cost $1500/month. 

I was 25 and a single mom. #TheStruggle

Determined to maintain my credit score, I worked 3 jobs to put food on the table, pay my car note, my high-AF rent and continue making the minimum payments on my various credit cards.

I was under water, overworked, exhausted, and out of options.

If I stopped to take a breath at any moment, I would fall behind on paying bills, my rent would not get paid, there would be no food on the table. I was the epitome of paycheck to paycheck. 

Flash forward to today.

By the end of 2016, I landed a job for one of the top Marketing Analytics firms in the world, making triple what I was making with three jobs. My company that lets you work from where ever you want, have unlimited vacation, a robust retirement plan and values me as an individual.

Most importantly, I am happy.

 

How did I make this transition in one year? 

I made the hardest decision of my life: I stopped paying my bills... ALL OF THEM. 

I called all of my credit cards and informed them I would no longer by paying. I turned my phone off (yes, completely off). I did a voluntary repossession on my Mercedes Benz and bought a crappy car in cash. 

 

Lowering my bills meant I didn't need more money.

With over $2500 in rent, car payments and credit card minimums every month, I was obligated to work enough hours to cover my bills - EVERY SINGLE MONTH. That means before I could put money into my savings account, buy food or invest in my future I had to make $2500 that would immediately go out the door to pay for my earlier mistakes.

I only made $2000-$2200 each month as a receptionist, waitress and low-paid freelancer at the time. That meant that every month I was also spending MORE MONEY ON CREDIT CARDS. 

Deciding to stop paying my bills and move out of my apartment (and into my moms basement) meant that I would no longer need $2500 each month. Without working any harder, I would now have $2200 each month TO INVEST IN MYSELF. 

 

What did I do instead?

I made the decision to get masters a degree in a high demand, high value and growing field: Data Science.

I woke up every morning at 3am and rolled out of bed so I could wake up by the shock (and slight pain) of hitting the floor. (I was training myself for a war I intended to win.) I started studying for the GRE. 

Within a few months, I had scored well, applied to school and got into the state school near my parent's house.

Remember the crappy car I bought with I did a voluntary repossession on my fancy benz?  I sold it to pay for as much of my school fees as possible and minimize the amount of loans I had to take out.

Because I no longer needed the money, I was able to quit my receptionist and waitress jobs to go to school full time. I even fired all of my freelance clients and only kept the highest paying client.

After my nine month master's program, I walked across the stage just one year after starting this journey with an offer in hand - for triple what I was being paid before.

 

My life changed completely.

At this new job, I made $65K per year. That meant I finally would be able to pay off my debts and also have time for myself, my family and there would be money left over to save and invest in myself. 

I also learned the most important lesson of my life: Spend less than you make. (Crazy how long it took to learn that lesson, right?)

 

I sacrificed my credit score to improve my life.

I am not advocating for scamming your way out of paying for your financial obligations. I am a firm believer that you SHOULD pay your debts. However, that is a choice you CAN make. 

Without the bills, I didn't need three jobs.

Without the jobs, I didn't have to feel stressed every month about creating more income, working harder. I didn't have to burn myself out.

I could think clearly about who I was and what I really wanted out of life. With a clear mind, I put myself in a position to change my life permanently.

I made the conscious decision to take 10 steps back to (finally) propel myself forward. From where I'm standing, I made the right choice.

 

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About Chantl

Chantl founded Thrive Lounge to give women the kick in the pants they need (lovingly, of course) to uncomplicate their goals, stop making excuses, get productive and start living the life they always wanted. Her book, Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams, gives women a step-by-step guide to create, plan and achieve their grandest goals.

Six Common Mistakes People Make When Hosting A Vision Board Party

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Vision board parties can be a ton of fun, but since they're often hosted by us regular folks who sit around drinking and chatting for fun - and have now decided to add some vision boards into the mix, they don't always have the best structure. 

As a host, it your job to make sure that attendees get what they want to achieve out of coming to the event.

Here are a few common mistakes people make that you'll want to avoid while you're planning your vision board party.

 

Filling every minute of the agenda

I know this one sounds a bit crazy! We want for every moment to be planned out and have every activity flow really well into the next one. 

Here's what's wrong with that: 

  • About 50% of attendees will show up late.

  • People will inevitably miss key content and want you to repeat.

  • A full agenda doesn't leave much time for networking and chatting with others.

Solution: Leave some "mingling" time in your agenda. It's unstructured time where people can get to know each other and chat about whatever they want. This will help them start to build relationships with others on their own. 

 

Not having food/drink options for everyone

Food can be tricky. I once held an event where I forgot the non-alcoholic beverages and had to get a pitcher of water for non-wine drinkers! You want to have super yummy options and get creative to your hearts content, but you also want to be inclusive so that everyone at the event has something to eat.

Solution: Make sure you cover the basics and have gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian options for people. If you want to get fancy, add a form to the registration where people can outline exactly what kinds of food allergies they have so you can plan accordingly.

 

Not having enough good magazines

Magazines are the backbone of the vision board! If you don't have enough good magazines to go around, people will end up fingering through the same ones over and over long after they've realized that there is no inspiration in them. 

Solution: Ask attendees to bring their own extra magazines from home. 

 

Not telling people what to bring

It's pretty common for people provide their own poster boards and bring their own magazines at vision board parties. If you don't plan on providing everything for your attendees, you'll want to make sure they know exactly what to bring. Otherwise people may show up empty handed and you run the risk of not having enough materials to go around.

Solution: Provide a list of items that they can scan quickly.

 

Not curating good speakers

If you decide to bring speakers to your event, it could go really well or really poorly. Speakers are meant to compliment the event or raise it to the next level with fun, relevant and inspiring stories for your audience. 

Solution: Make sure any speaker you invite has experience that would be relevant to the people attending the event. 

 

Not Facilitating conversation among guests

Sometimes you can drop people into a room and they just click. People make friends easily and find common grounds to start really cool conversations on. Other times, it's a bit more of a struggle. Unfortunately, you have now way of knowing whether your guests will click immediately or if they'll take a little warming up. 

Solution: Have a few ideas ready to get people engaged early on in the event with some ice breaker activities that can get the conversation started. 

 

These common vision board party mistakes are super easy to avoid with proper planning and a little bit of flexibility. Enjoy your party planning. 

xoxo

 

Want To Start Planning Your Vision Board Party? 

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About Chantl

Chantl founded Thrive Lounge to give women the kick in the pants they need (lovingly, of course) to uncomplicate their goals, stop making excuses, get productive and start living the life they always wanted. Her Sold Out Vision Board Parties online course, helps success and mindfulness coaches host profitable, effective and transformative vision board parties.

How To Survive (And Fully Recover From) Your Bad Credit History

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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I recently shared my full debt story on Chain of Wealth Podcast. This interview inspired me to create this series. Rise From Rock Bottom tells every story from my failure years - and how I overcame it.


Two days after I got my first job offer, the recruiter told me that the company would not be able to hire me. I had too much debt and my credit was so bad that many of their clients would not allow me to work on their accounts. 

I knew when I decided to quit my three jobs and stop paying my debts to go back to school I would have some set backs, but I didn't think that this - my big break that I worked so hard for - would be taken from me in the process.... all because I had bad credit.

I had character references lined up to attest that it was extreme circumstances (not immaturity or lack of responsibility) that sent my finances spiraling out of control. 

That way not the first time I had to sacrifice something I wanted because of bad credit. In fact, in one year of bad credit, I has the displeasure of experiencing every single one of these.

 

You can't buy a car.

Well, you COULD, but it would have to be in cash to make any financial sense (and if you're here, reading this, I'm sure you have a fair amount of financial literacy). With interest rates up to 24.99% for people with bad credit, car purchases don't make sense on any level. 

 

How to survive -

Focus on living and working in big cities.  Large cities (like DC, Chicago and New York) have amazing train systems that can allow you to get around without a car while you stash cash away for that car purchase. Trust me, your future self will thank you when your monthly payments don't go directly to paying only the interest on your fancy new car. 

Make Uber and Lyft your best friends. Pro Tip: Use UberPOOL! This will save you extra money to put toward that car you're saving for. 

Buy an old, crappy car for pennies. If you find yourself in a position where you need a car (like if you happen to land your dream career... in a city with no public transportation) your crappy car will be your best friend. You won't have car payments and you can still get to far away places without the requirement that they be accessible by public transportation.

 

You can't get a credit card.

When you have bad credit and you reach a position where you're ready to start re-building your credit, you'll find it's nearly impossible for anyone to trust you with their virtual cash. It's not happening... so don't even think about it. You'll get rejected for lines of credit until you show that you can be responsible with other people's money - and that takes time (a lot of time).

 

How to survive

Do it that hard way. Start paying off your debts, one by one. Slowly but surely your credit score will rise and eventually someone will trust you with a credit card. You may get a card with a $5 credit limit, but we all gotta start somewhere.

Get a pre-paid credit card. If no one is going to trust you, show some initiative and trust yourself with your cash money. Put $300 - $500 towards a line of credit for yourself and start practicing some of those good money habits you know you have. Over time, your credit score will rise.

 

You can't refinance your credit.

I always thought it's hilarious that credit refinancing will look at your credit to determine whether you're worthy of refinancing.

The people with bad credit are probably the ones that could benefit the most from a lower monthly payment. Unfortunately, you have a history and (in case you don't get it by now) no one trusts you with money.

 

How to survive

See above. #SorryNotSorry

 

You Can't Rent A Car

Have you ever tried renting a car without a credit card? After being super frustrated with my debt levels, I turned off - and then cut up - all of my credit cards. 

My goal was to pay for everything in cash and if I didn't have the money that simply meant I could not afford whatever I wanted.

That was certainly not a smart decision for when I inevitably needed a rental car. Showing up for a rental car without a credit card is (simply put) a death wish. Some places will demand you show them a pay stub to verify your address. Many places will refuse to rent a car to you at all.

 

How to Survive

Rent from Dollar or Thrifty rental car. They will allow you to rent a car while placing a $350 hold on your car until you return the car. These are the only two places I've seen that will give you a rental car with very little (to no) hassle. 

 

You can't get a student loan.

When I decided to go back to school, I had to sacrifice a lot to have the time to dedicate to learning a new craft and start applying for full time jobs in my field. I finally knew what I wanted out of life and I wanted to channel the force of Hercules if I needed to.

I successfully got into a program, paid the fee (with the help of my friends).

 

How To Survive

Ask your family. My dad was able to get a parent loan for me (in his name) so I could get the remaining $5k to complete my education.

 

Sometimes (if you're really unlucky) you can't get a job.

At the beginning of 2016, I had a target number for the salary I wanted. Months before graduation I was offered a job at that target number.

I was blown away that all of my hard work had finally paid off. When HR rescinded my offer due to poor credit, I felt helpless. The one thing that could help me fix my poor financial situation slipped right from under my fingers... because of my poor financial situation. 

 

How To Survive

Keep this in mind while applying for jobs. I never met anyone that this had happened to so I thought it was an urban myth. Knowing that this is a possibility will help you manage expectations better during the application and interview process. It will also help you cope with losing a job offer.

Be wary of jobs with banks, financial services firms, government, and consulting firms that work with banks. Instead, look for larger firms rather than boutique firms. Even if these firms work with banks, they will likely be able to put you with another team that does not judge you based on your credit.

Stay positive! Cast a wide net and look forward to the journey. If you are offered a job, take the time to talk with HR and let them know your situation BEFORE they check your credit. Trust me, if they offered you a job, they WANT to work with you! They will do anything in their power to close the deal.

 

Yes, if you have bad credit America hates you! Understand it and get over it! With one foot in front of the other, you will walk right out of this bad credit situation and live to tell the tale.

 

 

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About Chantl

Chantl founded Thrive Lounge to give women the kick in the pants they need (lovingly, of course) to uncomplicate their goals, stop making excuses, get productive and start living the life they always wanted. Her book, Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams, gives women a step-by-step guide to create, plan and achieve their grandest goals.