Hold tight, 'cause this is gonna be a long one!
I've been through this before. If you want to, feel free to read backwards through those posts and see how far I went in 2012 with my Spending Fast. I paid off nearly half my debt! It was amazing, difficult, liberating, quite a struggle, but so rewarding.
Then 2013 came. And shit happened.
My boyfriend and I broke up, and I moved out. I suddenly had to pay a new deposit, a new rent, re-stock my fridge with groceries, pay for any moving costs (thank GOD I had friends to help though).
I made excuses. I spent money on things I didn't need to make myself feel better. I went out to eat, I bought drinks, I ignored my troubles.
I went on a vacation. Although the vacation was done on a budget (which I'm very proud of), and it was one I'll never regret taking - it was still an expense. An expense that I helped pay for by using my credit cards.
I lost my job. Suddenly I had no income. NONE. I turned to my credit cards to console me, yet again. I also still needed to eat, pay for gas, and everything else. I did get a new job relatively fast (which I'm unbelievably grateful for), but it's only part-time right now.
I needed dental work. Desperately. My tooth was becoming so painful due to a filling that fell out that I needed to get fixed a year ago, and because I waited so long I had to get a crown. Which cost me over $1,600 in money I don't have. Add it to the credit card.
I decided to go to school. Orientation fees, doctor's visits, application fees - the list goes on & on. And my financial aid would barely cover my tuition and other expenses - and yet, how would I pay for my credit card bills??
I'm certainly glad that none of these things happened BEFORE I started the Spending Fast, otherwise I'd be in even more trouble now. However...
...Remember my ending amount after the spending fast? Here's a refresher of how much I accomplished in 2012:
$13,168.04 - Starting Debt at Jan 1, 2012
$7,169.78 - Ending Debt at Dec 17, 2012
Pretty amazing huh?
Well, guess where my debt is now. I currently owe:
$13,829.64 - as of August 9th, 2013
I actually managed to rack up even MORE debt than when I started the Spending Fast the first time around. SHIT.
I guess it's not something you can just change overnight. And getting out of debt is not about just getting DOWN your debt. It's about getting COMPLETELY OUT of debt. And SAVING money so that when the shit hits the fan, you can turn to your savings INSTEAD of your credit cards.
Well, here I am again. Frustrated, dissapointed, and scared.
What to do now? Well, get back on the horse that bucked ya. Start over.
Therefore I have decided that I cannot possibly go back to school this year.
This has by far been one of the hardest choices I've ever had to make. I have been struggling with this decision, but it's the only solution I can find. I can't get out of my debt while accruing more debt - especially at a school where the tuition is so ridiculously high.
When I finally realized what I needed to do, I was so upset I thought I would burst. My heart felt like it was broken. I sobbed until I could hardly breathe.
I did so much work to get to where I am. I did all of the paperwork, spent hours submitting the proper forms & applications, hounded my advisers for help, got all of my appointments done, went to orientation, met all my requirement. I literally spent months getting ready for this.
And now, with only one month from starting my next chapter in life - it's delayed.
This year has been a strange one. They say that every handful of years or so we go through a "year of change". Where everything is just a complete clusterfuck, you lose your place in the world, you go through some growing pains, cry a lot, and change a lot. It's sucky at the time, but it brings about a new year of growth and hope. I am pretty sure I'm in one of those years right now. And it sucks. But I know that good will come.
So here I am, trying to be brave. Trying to embrace what life has in store for me no matter what.
Being an adult is fucking hard.
And so, with this, I'm beginning my Spending Fast for the second (and last) time. This time, I'm not going to do it for a year. I'm going to do it for as long as it takes. As long as it takes to pay off my debt, and get my savings going. As long as it takes to be financially secure. And if delaying school for another year or two is what it's going to take, I'm going to do it.
I'm going to start blogging about my progress again too, which is why I'm making this public. Yes, it's a shameless plug for support and encouragement, but hey, I'll take what I can get. And if my struggle can help others become debt-free as well then that will be worth it. We are not alone. This is not just a problem I struggle with - it's a problem THOUSANDS of Americans struggle with.
If you haven't watched this yet, please check out the documentary film Maxed Out.
I believe it's still available on Netflix Instant. I would highly recommend it.
One different thing I'm going to be doing this time around is that I'm going to get some professional help. I'm talking to a Financial Adviser / Financial Planner who will help me get back on track. I figure they know a lot more about this stuff than I do, and they can help me figure out my budget, how to get my savings going again, how much I can afford to put towards everything, etc. I mean, it's what they get paid to do!
I'm also going to use this time to research companies, volunteer with cooking schools / non-profits that already do what I'm looking to do with my future in nutrition. I'm going to find a school that can work within my needs, and help me reach my goals without costing me a small fortune. I may need to hold off on pulling the trigger for a little while, but now that I know what I want to do with my life I know that will keep me motivated.
I have always been driven by my heart and sometimes it takes a little while for my head to catch up. Sometimes diving in before asking if there's a safety net actually works. Sometimes I land in a pile of rainbows and marshmallow fluff, and I'm so glad I took the leap of faith. And sometimes, I hit the ground. And it really fucking hurts. But I have to deal with it, brush myself off and start over.
Last night I was talking to my friend Geneva about all of this.
Geneva: "So, do you feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders now that you've made this decision?"
Me: "Yes. I really do."
Geneva: "Then you made the right choice."
So here I go again. Broken, a little battered, but not yet defeated.
If you'd like to start a Spending Fast as well, please check out the blog that inspired it all here. Anna is an amazing person, and really knows what she's talking about!