When the recession hit in 2008 – it more than hit me, it more like gave me two black & blue eyes and dragged me around and down with it.
2008 was also the year I received my bachelors degree, it was also the year I received my ﬁrst student loan re-payment booklet – It took me 6 years to finish my undergrad degree. No, I was not getting an MA, it simply took long to graduate ’cause like many other students who come from humble backgrounds – I too had to work and pay my way through school.
I ended up with student loans like many students do. Used up my student loan money to be able to afford bare necessities such as food and commuting at times – and to be honest – I don’t regret doing this. I was very much ignorant about a lot of important stuff such as managing my ﬁnances and alternate ways to receive a college education. I wish someone would’ve warned me about this, but no one really new a recession would become part of our reality a few years down the road.
My ﬁrst year of college, MBNA approved me (a 19-year-old without credit) and gave me – my very ﬁrst credit card. MBNA credited a whole $1,500 to my name – I call it my second “slave” move during my ﬁrst year of college. The ﬁrst “slave” move was signing my freedom away to Sallie Mae.
Let me make something clear before you start thinking I’m trying to discourage you from getting a college edu – I am not in any way anti higher education – I am in fact happy & proud to have one… What I am against is the evil student loans which go to the grave with us if they must and I can’t forget to give cred to the credit sharks that prey on financially ignorant students as a tactic to enslave us to the “system” from a very young age.
I’ve been making my own money since I became a tween girly – I was a babysitter, tutor, helped my mother clean houses for wealthy people, sold food with my mother, and even sold Avon products at one point, all this before I turned 16. This was all to help my family make ends meet – I am not complaining; I come from a 3rd world country & we are taught to work from a young age. I loved helping out and felt it was the right thing to do. I do wish my parents knew more about how to manage ﬁnances and guided me to make better money managing decisions, but unfortunately – that was not the case for me.
Not knowing how to manage my money led me to going into a lot of debt, I got into retail therapy “the frugal” way (if that makes any sense) it was mainly to keep me distracted from the mess my life had turned into.
It was not good, I was unhappy, I was unhealthy, I was wrong and I didn’t even know it.
In 2010 my first marriage fell apart and we ended up getting divorced. We were deeply in debt together with credit cards, student loans, car payments – and it was only getting worse. Neither of us handled money well. We spent many hours a week working hard to make money to simply pay off credit card minimums to keep our heads above water. It was a cycle with no end, it added on a lot of stress and we argued about silly things due to the stress and unhealthy routines.
Money is one of the biggest reason for divorce and I now see why. After my divorce I struggled even more on my own. I was left with not credit available and only made enough money to pay my rent and basic bills.
The day I was unable to purchase a $2.49 cent bag of feminine care products I realized that I had to change the way I handled money. I began to sell my furniture on Craigslist, work any extra hours I could, learned to coupon and that allowed me to teach coupon classes which brought me a little cash as well – this also led me to seek financial guidance. I was able to listen to podcasts during work on how to manage my money so I listened to over 100 hours of financial advice on Itunes, learned about Financial Peace University, I learned to set up a budget, make DIY products, coupon, and basically live on less.
Today I am still paying off debt and still have a long journey but I have a plan & and budget and I am sticking to it, perhaps in 5 years my story will be a different one and I pray that I am able to share that with you as well.