Since I shared some of the tools that I used to accelerate my debt pay off with you, it seems like I have had one financial setback after another. Why can’t I put a filter on my finances to make them look better than they are? Is there an app for that? *asking for a friend*. I’m doing almost everything right. I budget, I think twice even three times before spending money and it’s still not enough!
The reality is things happen… that’s life so here are some steps that I took to get through a particularly rough financial patch.
1. Admit temporary defeat
One of the top six reasons you’re not sticking to your budget is “you’re not being realistic,” wrote Kristin Sutton in a blog post, 7 Mistakes You’re Making When Paying Your Debt Down.
At the beginning of June, I had to make a smaller payment than I usually do towards my biggest and most pressing debt. I had been on such a roll that it really hurt to not be able to make the full payment that one time, but it would have made the rest of the month unbearable if I had not acknowledged I couldn’t do it. I’m putting emphasis on temporary because I will not let this minor setback overshadow the progress I’ve made so far. Keep it 100 with yourself. Denying you’re in financial trouble will only make it worse.
2. Work harder (not smarter)
Yes, you read that right. Sometimes I have to put the motivational tweets aside – I’m quite the preacher on Twitter – and DO something. This can look different for you depending on your situation. Maybe you could work overtime, you could seek an extra client that month as a freelancer or maybe even sell a few things you don’t need. For me it simply means the short-term grind is putting in extra hours at my part-time job.
3. Small sacrifices
Spending smarter comes in handy. I made a go-to struggle grocery list, disabled my Uber account and I skipped a few concerts too. Did I die????? No! On a serious note, these small luxuries are just some examples of things that I do usually budget for but are not fixed costs. During this rough time, I had to scrap all of these things and focus on the things I absolutely needed. These slight adjustments will provide some financial relief.
4. Mind over matter
I have been practicing being grateful for what I CAN do versus what I can’t do. When I focus on all the things I can’t afford I feel overwhelmed and that’s when I fail at step 1 to 3. I wrote in my journal at the beginning of the month, “I paid my bills this month on time and in full.” That’s something not everyone can do and certainly something I used to struggle to do not so long ago. I started to see things switch up for the good when I exercised some gratitude.
5. A closed mouth doesn’t get fed
It’s okay to reach out and ask for help. Clearly frustrated one night, I asked my tweeps if they knew of any side hustles that were fairly easy to get in my area. I got three fruitful replies and at least one of those replies has directly led to more income! Your favourite money therapist offered me a paid opportunity I could not turn down. I am now on the Debt Free Black Girl team and lovin’ it. Let the church say AMEN!
What are some of the things you do to help you get back on financial track?
Written by Zandile Chiwanza
Zandile is a hard working, resourceful, fine & frugal Zimbabwean living in Toronto, Canada. Proofreader by day, Zandile like to write about music, lifestyle and now personal finance when she is not busy being the grammar police!
You can find @Zaknows on Twitter, Pinterest and Medium.
“When I first started getting serious about paying down my debts, I had to really think about why it was important for me to get out of debt as soon as possible,” said Kristin Sutton, founder of this platform Debt Free Black Girl in a recent newsletter.
Good question. Why is being debt free important to me? Well frankly, I am tired of dealing with the emotional consequences that come with debt such as stress, anxiety, shame, depression, low self esteem just to name a few. Since I started this journey I have had to constantly remind myself why I am doing this in the first place. It has helped tremendously to keep me focused and remind myself of my purpose and changed my outlook on my finances.
Here’s what I did to accelerate my debt payoff in no particular order:
It was the summer of 2003; I was 17 years old and was gearing up to attend school at North Carolina A&T (Aggie Pride). As soon as I stepped onto campus, they had a table set up for students to sign up for credit cards. Bruh! I was like a kid in a candy store as I approached the table and signed my name on the dotted line. I just had to get my hands on one of those cards! Mistake #1.
I knew nothing about how credit cards REALLY worked, and how much trouble they would ultimately get me into. So picture me, a young naive ‘carefree black girl’ with a credit card. A CREDIT CARD! I would just ball out with no remorse; frequent shopping trips to the local mall and going out to eat and footing the bill for all of my friends was the norm. I must have thought I was Diddy or something. Like who does that? Just being RECKLESS! Not realizing that I actually had to pay all of that money back plus extra (just kidding), I was living the good life as a poor little rich girl (I was spoiled SMH).
Broke. Poor. Overdrawn. Late Payments.
These are just a few words that I chose to leave behind in 2017. My financial vocabulary got a new year’s makeover along with other resolutions that I plan to execute in 2018. But how did I get even get here?
My relationship with money only really began at 20. Before then, I lived at home in Zimbabwe where my parents took care of me. I wasn’t spoiled, I knew the value of money and I appreciated the hard work my parents put in to afford me a comfortable lifestyle and an even better upbringing, but nothing could have prepared me for my years in university in Canada and the real struggle it was for me to finish my degree because of financial hardship.
Photo Cred: She Lives Deliberately
As a mental health therapist, I’m truly committed to ensuring that the people I encounter and work with take care of themselves mentally and emotionally. Money is so strongly connected to our emotions. Most people don’t realize this and the first thing they think about is the amount of money they have in the bank.
Sometimes our feelings towards money are so strong that we start to hate money because we believe that it is the cause of all of our problems. Hate is a strong emotion.
The truth is that the problem isn’t money. The problem is how we approach money, how we think about money and how we handle money. People who constantly think negatively about money, tend to be plagued by money problems their whole life. This can cause a downward spiral emotionally.
One of the main issues that people face is being in debt. Being in debt can literally take a toll on you emotionally, if you’re not careful.
Photo Cred: She Lives Deliberately
In America today, debt is considered to be just part of normal life. We go into debt to go to college, we go into debt to buy a car, we go into debt to buy a home, and we are constantly using our credit cards to buy the things that we THINK we need.
As a result, we’re swimming in debt bruh.
We often have “buy now, pay later” syndrome. We want what we want when we want it and will do whatever it takes to get it! This often equates to us [ballin on a borrow] and using credit to satisfy our desires. What if we just had the patience to actually save up for what we wanted and paid cash for these purchases? We would be able to live a life without worrying about any debts piling up or having extra bills to pay each month. Less stress! Sounds pretty awesome right?
The ‘American Dream’ is all about having it all together — the nice car, the house, and anything else that we could ever want. Are we as Americans too materialistic? A lot of times, we’re making the money, we have these nice cars and these nice houses, anything that we could ever want, and we’re still unhappy! We still don’t have that sense of peace and joy within us, and that’s a problem. Additionally, regardless of how much money we make, we still have problems with making ends meet and still living paycheck to paycheck. That’s because most times when people’s income increases, their expenses and spending habits increase as well in an attempt to increase their standard of living. So does it really matter what your income is? Because like they say, “more money, more problems.” You can never have a fulfilled life chasing after those material things. Instead of trying to increase your standard of living, you should focus on increasing your quality of life. How can you increase your satisfaction with your life without relying on material things?