Here comes Pluto in Capricorn in full force. Pluto is the planet of death, transformation and MONEY. If there has ever been a time to get faced with all of the shit you don’t want to confront about money…now is that time!
I want to be completely transparent here because I know there are SO MANY people out there in a similar situation to myself. I write this to help get out my own anxieties and frustrations, but also to help anyone reading this to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It is only since June that I really started to get real about my money (astrologically right on time, of course). Every year I had these plans on how I was going to work and pay down chunks of my debt. Except, I had no real knowledge around how the payments and interest around my debts worked, and without tracking my actual spending I was always setting myself up for disaster. Every year, my debt never really went anywhere as I got bogged down just from monthly bills and debt payments themselves. Ironic, I know. The one thing you are working so hard to pay off is also the thing that keeps you from paying it off. In June I set an intention that I would vigorously start paying things off and track my spending better. By October, I realized that I needed professional help. I sought out a financial coach, whom I have been working with since November. Her name is Caroline and she is fantastic. Go check out Verdi Coaching if you are interested, its the second best money I’ve ever spent (second to therapy, of course). With a few simple tools, like paying off purchases you make on your credit card right away rather than later on so that you are actually only spending money that you HAVE…my credit card bill miraculously cut itself in half. MAGIC! Seriously, a few of these steps changed my life. Another was putting monthly payments into my RRSP and TFSA, AND NOT TOUCHING IT. Upon some advice I took into my own hands back in June after listening to a podcast on money, I set up a savings account with the highest interest rate I could find and started building up to an amount I had in mind for a goal. I actually surpassed that goal by 2k before the end of 2019. So, all of that stuff I am SUPER proud of.
But it still doesn’t fix the problem of my debt. As I have jumped into a career change in the midst of all of this, I would be nowhere without the help of my financial coach AND my parents who have been gracious co-signers on several of my debts (I imagine watching this downward financial spiral has not been pretty). I spent most of my 20s living however I felt like, and doing remote, bush work and making lots of money. I never had to worry about anything in my early to mid 20s. I had few bills, and whenever work ran out I went on EI and lived however I wanted. If EI wasn’t enough to cover a month, no problem, I’d just tap into the wealth of money I had sitting in my account from the last contract I completed. I had zero concept of saving for the future, and never foresaw a time where I wouldn’t want to be in the bush all the time and have ZERO personal or romantic life…oh youth…
You see, as much as other people on the outside may think that all the traveling and cool things I’ve done throughout my 20s are to blame for this. Except, I know they are not. It is actually just my everyday life, and the choices I made that are the culprit behind my debt now. How I spent my time doing every single thing I wanted so I had no time to cook for myself; the amount of times I would get fast food instead of cooking my own for cheaper. The amount of unnecessary driving I would do and go out of my way for other people when I had no boundaries. The work I would do for free just because I wanted to be nice and I was on EI anyways. My lack of education around money and my own spending meant that once I got into a little debt, it made it harder and harder to get out of. And when I took jobs to build my career rather than for the money, accepting wages WAY lower than what I was worth (a whole other blog post entirely), I wasn’t able to get out of it as quickly. When I opened a line of credit for graduate school to help myself stay afloat, I actually had no idea what I was really doing. I had no concept of the kind of debt I could get into and how HARD it is to get out of it. I knew I would take a hit, as my living expenses were undoubtedly higher than the money I was making on a meagre student budget. My priorities took hold, which ultimately were healing from the trauma I had just experienced, and not around watching my spending. If something came up that would benefit my healing process and ultimate recovery, I did it, and would worry about the cost later. Several years later, and those were the right decisions. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t have made those decisions smarter, however.
Having said all of that. I want YOU to know that I don’t beat myself up for my past choices, and I don’t want YOU to either. I have felt shame and guilt around it a lot…but I know the only way forward is through. Through transcending all of the previous beliefs I have had around money and willing to face the music to truly free myself. There is absolutely NOTHING that can be done about the past, no matter how much debt you have because of it. To get completely real with everyone, I currently have 2.5k on my credit card, 4.5k on my personal line of credit, 34k on my student line of credit, and 17k left on my car loan. If you don’t want to do the math, thats a total of $58,000 in debt. Now, go easy on me, anyone reading this. This is the first time I have ever come out and said this, in the open. I have never before admitted the total of how much debt I actually have. Its utterly terrifying, embarrassing, guilt-ridden, and shameful. But, in calling it out I am also feeling empowered, inspired, and PROUD for owning myself as a fully-faceted human being who isn’t perfect and who sometimes makes (rather large) mistakes. I hope you can also own your debt and do the same. No more hiding in the shadows! Be unapologetically you and ALL that you come with! Back to the debt. This comes from someone who came out of her undergraduate degree with ZERO student debt…thanks to my parents who split the cost of my education with me, and to tree planting where I could make almost enough money to pay for 1/2 my schooling and still enough money to live back then. Ultimately someone who had everything in front of her to set herself up beautifully for a mostly debt-free future. And yet, here I am. Despite all of this, I actually have excellent credit. I attribute that to one of the few skills I did pick up from my parents, particularly my father, who always taught me to pay my credit card bill every month. I have had a credit card since I was 18, as I got a starter one when I lived overseas so I could book flights to travel around without having to always go through my parents. I have religiously always paid my bills (even if that bill was only for the minimum payment) on time my entire adult life, and with that I have been rewarded with very good credit.
HOWEVER. All is not lost! There is hope! With awareness comes education, and with education comes smarter choices and with that comes actual results. So here I am, working my tail off to start a new career while jigging the system to pay off my debt the quickest and most efficient way I can, OH and of course putting away some savings for my future BECAUSE I KNOW BETTER NOW! Pluto has been a bit of a bitch with all of this, but I am also proud and ready to stand up to all of it. Accountability is key for any of you reading this and feeling all of the same feels. Trust me, it has given me anxiety on a daily basis. But, what I have been learning is you cannot let it consume you and inhibit you from doing what you truly want to be doing in this world..whatever that may be. I know, and I also know that YOU know we are all capable human beings who can get through this, and out of it. No matter how insurmountable it all seems, taking small steps everyday count. Whether that is working with a financial coach, applying for jobs, putting your own work out there and starting your own thing, selling stuff you don’t need, tracking your spending…every little bit helps.
So for all Millennials and beyond who feel like they will never be able to afford the life they truly want or emerge from the crippling boulder field of debt, I STAND WITH YOU. We have the power to get through it, and also to do things differently. To design lives that are different from what our parents or grandparents had, perhaps even different from your siblings. You have the power and the choice to take those shuffles, steps, or leaps whenever you feel you need to. And know that as long as you are working at your debt day by day, it will eventually be conquered.
I know reading this you probably think I have such a good handle on all of this and have it under control. Reality check is that I DO NOT, and have spent much of 2020 thus far riddled with anxiety and fear around what the hell I was going to do about it. It has been a daily practice for me to remind myself that I worked hard to be where I am right now, and that I am working hard everyday to knock this thing down. I don’t have all the answers, I simply have lots of support and guidance from everyone around me, including my gut instincts deep within all of the adulting bullshit.
I have and continue to work incredibly hard around my limiting beliefs around money. A lot of that work has truly helped me with seeing where some of my behaviours and attitudes towards money have come from. With that, I would like to point anyone resonating with all of this to some COMPLETELY FREE resources below, that I have used myself:
https://www.erinskyekelly.com *scroll down to the free net worth spreadsheet and journal course and LISTEN TO HER PODCAST
Lastly, I say this because this is a new intention I am setting for myself moving forward. A daily meditation practice, I will probably start out with only a minute or two a day. This is to help ground me, remind me all of the things I am grateful for, and why THIS IS ALL GOING TO BE OKAY.
So much love to each and every one of you,
PS. I think a poetry book about money is in the works soon…
PPS. My gorgeous bag in the photo is courtesy of my dear friend Hannah, of Black Spruce Leather. Go check out their website and all amazing handmade leather goods!