Ah debt, my old ball and chain. You were such a drag, but I finally managed to cut you loose. You weighed a tonne and didn’t go with any of my outfits; it just wasn’t go to work. It was time to grow up, face my demons and get real.
There are many different ways of tackling debt, but for me the only way I knew was to get my head down and attack it with full force. Back in November, I set myself the goal of becoming debt free within a year – and I did. It took me nine months to be exact, and is one of my proudest achievements to date.
I work as a graphic designer and earn £25K a year. Not the best wage in the world but enough to live off of comfortably. That is, unless you have a shit load of debt to pay off. The only way I could live and pay off my debt was to take on extra work. I looked at various options, until one day I had a light bulb moment.
Ah ha! I said to myself, there’s something I can do… I love kids and have plenty of experience. I stuck an advert up on Gumtree and within days I had my first booking. Soon I was working up to 30 hours a week on top of my day job and I loved it. I started working for some wonderful people and felt proud to be redeeming myself.
I took pride in my babysitting work and made myself business cards and a website. I loved it when people contacted me on the recommendation of other clients; there is something very touching about being trusted with another person’s most prized possession and I didn’t take the responsibility lightly.
I became obsessed with paying off my debt. I lived and breathed it every day. Whenever I had some free time I read blogs about other people’s experiences with debt and felt even more inspired to keep going. One man I must mention here is Adam Baker of Man Vs Debt. We’ve never met but I feel like I know him and his family so well. His honest, frank and genuine writing was exactly what I needed at the time. It was also the first blog I ever subscribed to and is definitely one of the reasons why I am here today writing my own. So thank you Baker – you’re a rockstar.
I also took very much to heart Baker’s principal message: “Sell your crap, pay off your debt, do what you love”. I began to realise how little I needed, or really wanted, the majority of my belongings. I bought Baker’s Sell Your Crap eBook – it’s a fab resource I highly recommend – and began the long process of selling my things on ebay and Amazon. It’s tedious work but worth it. I also started doing car boot sales (similar to American yard sales but you sell everything out of the back of your car). Slowly but surely my crap is dwindling. By the time we leave for India next year I will be down to just one backpack of belongings, and I find that idea strangely thrilling.
This is like a whole new realm. I have never had savings before in my life and the world of being in credit is very foreign to me. But, like any new and unchartered territory, I am thrilled to be able to experience it and share my tales of discovery.
On a slightly more cheesy but nonetheless important note, I would like to say a public thank you to my boyfriend Lee, who has not only forgiven me for hiding my debt from him, but has put up with me working like a maniac and dragging him to many a car boot sale. He has allowed me to grow and discover new things about myself and is a constant source of love and support. I’m just crazy about him.
While I’m dishing out gratitude, I feel I must also say a big thank you to a few other people who have supported me in a variety of different ways, and shown me love without judgement.
My mum… as a single parent she was both mum and dad to me and my incredible sister Ceri; my grandmother who thinks I’m perfect… her love is blind and that’s just the way I like it; my BFFs and tequila partners Phillipa, Danica and Anna; my best friends from afar, Mara and Claire… there’s an ocean between us but they make it feel like a mere puddle; Naomi and Ruben Clark, always a pleasure never a chore; Kate and Al Roberts and their sleeping angels… for their generosity and kindness; Iren, Nick, Jiya and Khubi Brown, who have made me feel like part of their family; and to the Smith’s and everyone else who has hired me.
So that’s it. Work hard, sell your crap and appreciate the people around you. You will become richer than you ever dreamed possible.
(Image: Toban Black)