Yes, you read that correctly: a guy attended a Women’s Money Group meeting. That was back in December, when I opened the doors to men. The topic was financial goals, the impact of debt, and the importance of debt repayment.
One of my members invited her son, whom I’ll call Chris. Afterwards, I spoke with him briefly and learned that he had enjoyed the meeting. “Great,” I thought, “I’m glad he learned something” and I left it at that.
Little did I know that the wheels in his head were hard at work!
He recently reached out by email to share an update on what he has accomplished since the meeting (reprinted with permission, with some details changed to preserve anonymity). His story is inspirational.
This is what happens when you grow your knowledge, get clear on your goals, and take action one step at a time.
As one of my members put it, when you know better, you do better.
Chris’s story of debt repayment
“Hi Doris,I was in attendance during your Open House in December and found the information on corrosive debt very helpful. In addition, the worksheet we filled out helped me write down, and realize, what my finance goals were, both short and long term. I left there with 3 main goals:1. Pay off my credit cards. I owed roughly $5000 at that time, and was hardly making a dent with smaller payments barely covering the interest.2. Purchase a new vehicle, preferably a small pickup, only once the credit card was paid off. I always have something on the go, and more times than not I have wanted one.3. Put $50 aside into savings every paycheck.
I work as a [type of technician], so I sometimes have a few days, or even a few weeks, between jobs. December proved to be difficult as I was off the entire month. In January, I returned to work and began to throw roughly 75% of what I was making at my credit cards. I left the minimum amount to pay my bills, with minimal spending money.
Additionally, I took on extra shifts, sometimes working 10-hour shifts for 13 days in a row. I was doing well until March, when my car at the time starting having problems. My head gasket had blown disastrously, causing my engine to run out of oil and blow. The repair would have cost thousands of dollars and many hours of my time if I wanted to do it myself.
Debt repayment Plan B
It was at this time that I sat down and laid out all of my expenses in a spread sheet. I still had around $2500 left on my cards and I needed a new car. My plan went a little sideways, but I realized I could afford financing a new car with proper budgeting.
With this in mind, I had a look at a 2019 Toyota Tacoma, but had to decline when they wanted $388 bi-weekly over 5 years. A used vehicle was the next option, and I found a good option at a dealership close to my work. I forked out $10 for a Consumer Reports membership to make sure I was getting the right one, and they spoke well of it. The dealership was asking $14,500, but I was able to negotiate it down to $11,500, with new brakes, a tune up, and a 6-month warranty.
I put $1000 down, which was paid for by the price of scrap I got for my car and tires, selling a table and chair set, and the savings that I had put aside every paycheck. Since it is a used car, the interest rates are higher. They offered me 8% over 7 years, but we came to an agreement at 5% over 4 years with my father as a co-signer, for a bi-weekly payment of $170. I picked up the truck a few days later and love it very much.
Goodbye debt, hello savingsTwo weeks ago, I finally paid off the rest of the balance on my credit cards. I still have the two, but only use my Canadian Tire card since I get Canadian Tire money back, which I can use for gas or tools for my job. The balance will be paid off in full next month as I have vowed to only use it for gas (I get 5 cents/litre with my card), and my phone bill.
My savings are beginning to fill back up and I have a comfortable amount of cash in the bank. I am tweaking my budget as I go, now adding things like annual expenses such as my plate stickers. The next goal is to pay off my toolbox for work. It has very low interest -$80 bi-weekly – but it would still be nice to pay it off sooner than later, with $4400 owed at 1.9% over 7 yrs.Thanks for having me as a guest and giving me that little extra push I needed to eliminate my corrosive debt. There was a lot of long hours, and exhaustion, but it was very much worth it.Chris”What’s not to love about this story! I gather that Chris is now an avowed saver and is looking forward to learning about how to grow his money through investments.
Let’s think about this for a moment: A 22-year-old went from being someone who took credit card balances as normal and who was planning on accumulating a ton more debt, to someone who completely changed his approach, including his indebtedness, in five months. Five months!
The “old” Chris was headed down a path of perpetual debt. The “new, aware” Chris is headed toward financial security. All it took was a little bit of education and the determination to make a change.
Next stepWhen Chris is done paying off corrosive debt, he might want to think about reorganizing his expenses to help crank up his results.Over to you: What ONE thing could you do to move yourself down a better, stronger financial path? Write it down right now and then move forward one step at a time.
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Great story. Smart young man!