Please enjoy today’s post by Sara Stringer.
Like many people I had the dream of going to college once I got out of high school but reality put me in place after just one year taking classes. I found myself losing interest in my study and before long I decided to go ahead and drop out. The decision was the worst financial mistake I had made.
I had decided to take out student loans (I’m sure you’ve heard this story before) and like many young people I saw it as a free money rather than something that should only be used for education. I certainly put a fair amount toward tuition and housing but I definitely squandered a huge chunk of it too.
Now it’s nearly five years later since I last attended classes and I’m staring down student loan debts that were, once, out of control. I say this in the past tense because I have changed my mindset on what to do about my debts. In a way, I had a financial revelation.
The most important things I have learned since taking control of my debts include:
- · A relationship shouldn’t be so one-sided in terms of finances
- · A simple phone call can clear up a lot of issues with expenses & debts
- · A vice is no longer fun as you age and quickly becomes a catalyst for negative actions
The first revelation was the fact that I was never quite open with my girlfriend about finances until we decided to create a shared account to pay rent and other bills. For the longest time I was adamant about being the one that pays for the majority of our expenses because that’s just how I was raised. I had it in my head that it was a man’s responsibility to be the bread-winner.
I soon realized that a relationship doesn’t work when it’s financially one-sided. I sat down with my girlfriend, laid out the issues with our finances, overcame my conditioning, and got the finances leveled.
The second revelation came about when I realized how easy it is to handle finances with a simple phone call (something people shy away from because of long holding times and having to deal with people):
- I found out I was paying more for my health insurance and a phone call got it readjusted
- I was able to start to the process to fix my bad credit by going over a debt plan with a professional
- I settled a few outstanding debts by talking with customer service and negotiating the bill
The biggest win came about when I saw that my student debts had rolled over to outstanding. I had been putting the payments off for a long time because it was becoming a major burden. An hour phone call with the student loan people changed managed to change the interest and payment schedule to one that was better for my finances. Since doing so I haven’t missed a payment and I’ve found I am contributing more toward the bills because it fits better into my monthly finances.
The third revelation was about realizing that I was no longer in my “college years” and that all those vices I had picked up when younger (partying a lot, ordering out versus cooking in, and smoking) were no longer “fun” and contributed to my constant, downward spiral.
I talked with my best friends & family about the situation (something quite hard to do). I listened to what they had to say and realized that many of them were in the same boat but didn’t want to admit to the problems. Together we began supporting one another in getting rid of these vices by checking in once a day to see how things were coming along.
Today I feel that there are some parts of me that are “boring” because I no longer do a lot of those things but honestly I am a much better person without them. By cutting out those vices I grow my savings each and every day. I set aside what I would have spent on those things each night before I go to sleep and because it’s been some time since taking action I see my savings account ripe with funds.
My story is the same as many and that’s actually a good thing because there is so much support out there for these common, financial issues. If you find yourself in the same situation then do know you’re not alone. Sit down sometime today and lay out the issues you have with debts and start a plan to overcome those financial woes. Maybe you too will have revelations.
What financial revelations have you had?