The Shame of Debt and The Cure

This is my first blog post and I’m so excited to share my financial experiences, lessons learned, losses, and wins with you. I’ve been wanting to start a blog for years. I’m not sure what took me so long but maybe we’ll discover the answer together as I start this blog with divulging the money shame I’ve felt for so long. I’m in my mid-thirties and I found out about this lifestyle subculture called Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) a few months ago. As you can tell by the name of my blog, I immediately became fascinated by what is way more than a philosophy – but a way of life.

What is FIRE..in my own words?

It is setting up your financial house such that your sources of income (money saved and invested) meets or exceeds your expenses which provided you with the freedom to retire early from your W-2 job as an employee. Amazing concept, right? Well I know this hit me like a ton of bricks the more and more I learned about it from the FI pioneers. The mere thought of retiring earlier from my job that I’d pretty much accepted that I wouldn’t retire from until I was like 65 years old is just jaw-dropping. Are you feeling my excitement here?! Well in the rare event that you aren’t, let me dig deeper here and make you understand a little bit better.

My Shame of Debt

Let me sort of paint my build-up and then bring you into my downfall. I live in an upper middle class neighborhood where the normal way of life is to drive luxury cars, live in a big ass house with tons of unneeded space, send your kids to private school with the best quality of education, have all the toys that your garage and kitchen cabinets will hold (not including the local storage unit you rent down the street), pay for a cleaning and lawn service, and oh if don’t have a collection of Louis Vuitton, Gucci, or Chanel shoes and bags then you just can’t hang with us. I’m college-educated and I have a Master’s degree. One might look at my life from the outside and assume that I live a comfortable life. And I do. But my bottomless spending pit has brought me nothing but years of agony and stress. I was taught from an early age that creating this type of life for yourself is what it means to have “made it” or to be “doing well for yourself.” I followed the popular and ordinary trajectory of go to school, take out a million dollars in student loans, get a good job, buy a house in the best part of town, and work hard until you’re dead. The American Dream, right? I was good, I did exactly what my parents told me to, I walked the path they said I should. And now I’m here:

  • $95k in student loans
  • $415 mortgage balance
  • $17k in credit cards
  • $3k line of credit balance
  • $4k in personal loans

= $534,000 in DEBT

For years I’ve been drowning in debt and for years I’ve been trying to get serious about my finances. I used to be that person that would take out cash advance loans so I could have some additional money to travel, go blow it at the bar, or restaurants. Yep. This is my ugly dark shame. So again, imagine my surprise when I found out about FI which debunked everything single thing about life that I’ve ever known.

Now The Cure…well My Cure

There are so many wonderful personal finance blogs out there and I feel like I am just one needle in the haystack but this is MY story. And I hate to state the obvious, but my point here is that the obvious isn’t always embraced. The obvious can be known and ignored at the same time. I had to take a long hard look in the mirror and accept the fact that my frivolous spending wasn’t reflective of my best self. Not to deflect blame but anyone can see that the societal pressures of constant advertisements, the Joneses, and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) left an indelible impression on me. I strived to become and get what everyone else wanted for me and not taking the time to sit down and think about what I wanted for me. And I can tell you for starters that $534k of debt IS NOT IT! So here I am, exposed, but also smarter. Smarter because I am a FI-seeker-in-practice. Better because I forgave myself and released the shame. Less debt today than 6 months ago because I took action. Empowered because I learned the Power of NO. I am on my way. It may take me longer but I’ll get there. This is my Cure. Implementing a lean lifestyle that includes activating multiple strategies which I can’t wait to share with you on this journey and this blog is how I plan to keep myself accountable.

I hope you identify something in your own life that requires your immediate attention and you resolve to take the steps needed to eradicate it.

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