Once upon a time, I was the friend that a few people envied. I used to never know why. Most of the time, I didn’t care because I always had a mentality of, “if you don’t pay for my bills or education” who cares if we are not friends. One day a friend asked me, how I paid for things. She wanted to know how I could afford a three bedroom home, utilities, and maintain the home in such immaculate condition. At the time, I was working a lot, a full time student and was managing fine( to everyone’s eyes). Balancing all meant having the finances to do all. My friend didn’t know that I was on a hamster wheel of debt.
My friend had no clue that I was going through these 5 things.
1. I was in debt up to my eye balls: I was living way beyond my means taking care of a home was filled with stress. The house was a money pit always draining my bank account. I would ignore house repairs until it got so bad. When I had to fix it, it meant getting a contractor out to see and solve the problem. I had major to minor plumbing issues, pest control, electrical and heating problems. I was also a student taking on loans and sometimes to supplement the mortgage. I had heavy transportation cost for my four hour commute from school to work and home. My full time job was not enough to do everything at once.
2. Sleeping at night was a problem: I would stay up at night thinking about how I would catch up with bills. I would budget to every dollar I didn’t have. I spent more time thinking about my day to day expenses than I did my education or my job. I would check all my online bank statements. I would avoid checking the mail. Sleeping well was a foreign language for a very long time.
3. I would pay everything late all the time: the late fees caked on and made the bill three times the original bill and it was a nightmare to pay. I once had a utility bill run on half way paid for six months. The only time I was able to catch up was because the electric bills became smaller during the summer; therefore getting it to current was manageable.
4.I never spent frivolously: Everything was budgeted to every dollar I never had. When I did spend, it was to go visit family and I had to save up or work on extra projects to be able to afford it. For example, my regular day job was for bills. If I was going to visit a friend or family in a different state, I would tutor on my college campus for money. I would find something to do to purchase the $200-$300 ticket. Plus I did interstate trips. I never went to Central America or across to the other side of the world. Just the cheap ones.
5. I would avoid events that cost a lot: for example, I never went to concerts or shows. I never went on girls trips abroad. I would decline going to weddings that were not in my state and just send a portion of my airfare funds as the wedding gift. Most of my friends would have online registries.
After drowning in debt for several years trying to maintain everything, I decided I couldn’t live on the hamster wheel, so I decided to lower my standard of living and eliminate debt.