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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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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.