It feels surreal to write this. Just 11 short months ago I found myself, once again, in the depths of my seemingly never-ending debt. However, this time around I had valiantly tried to do something about it. But as my debt grew deeper and my options lessened I knew I had to enlist professional help. Upon recommendations from a Facebook group of women I am apart of, someone pointed out Verdi Advising, a woman named Caroline based out of Los Angelos. Although I didn’t enjoy the conversion from USD and always paying more because of it, its the best money I’ve ever spent. I don’t regret a penny. Not only did I begin tackling my money stories and everywhere I’d gone wrong before with her, but I also did it on my own. I spent many days reading books and journalling about how I felt about money, and where those feelings came from. I wrote about how I saw money, how I made money, and how I wanted to do better going forward. I addressed the shame and guilt I felt for putting myself in this position, and I still constantly try to work at feeling less like a failure every day. She helped set me up to leave a career I spent 8 years building, but knew I didn’t want to do anymore. She was there alongside me when I took the leap into the great unknown, with a mountain of debt weighing me down.
I wrote about how much debt I had earlier this year, which at the time was approximately $58,000. That was even after having already paid off a few thousand dollars on my credit card. That doesn’t even count another $10,000 that I secretly want to pay back in what I see as loaned money too. As I entered 2020, I, with the help of my financial coach, came up with a master game plan for this year. I crunched all the numbers, and decided to set out on the longest treeplanting season of my career in an effort to pay off as much debt as I could. However, the goal, as had been before, was not just to throw all my money at my debt. I had tried this approach in the past, and failed miserably. This time around, I did it smart. I had the entirety of each paycheque already allocated (thanks to my coach), down to the dollar, for day to day expenses and the multiple savings accounts I created. At first it felt frustrating, that the debt wasn’t disappearing quicker. I stayed the course, and remained patience with much reassurance. I spent money only on essentials, and treated myself very sparingly. Usually it was to things already allocated in my budget that I deemed essential to my well being as a human.
I began planting a month early, and quickly started busting my ass out there to make the most money I have ever made in 11 years doing this job. I’ll admit, I was incredibly hard on myself this year. Yes, there was a “pandemic” swirling around me, but I stayed focused. I called in what I needed, and what I needed was lots and lots of work. All the plans I had made during the winter months fell through, and at the last minute new plans were formed that turned out so much better than the originals. There were only two days out of the 135 that I planted where I let myself end the day a little early. Every other day, I pushed. I grabbed another bundle or two. I did camp duties when I had the opportunity to for the extra cash. I was hungry for money. But I did get tired, really tired. And that was when I am thankful for the support around me that kept me going. The people that pushed me to do another half bag, or grab 3 more bundles. The people that told me to keep going because eventually it would end and I’d be all the more proud for it. And I am. This year I hit my best money day ever, half a dozen times.
So here I sit today, with just a few more weeks of bush work that fell into my lap, after my planting season has wrapped up. I am very grateful for it, and for the entire season. Today I just took all the extra money I had in one of the savings accounts that I won’t need to supplement myself while I take a few months of well deserved rest to focus on my art. Yes, you heard that right. You can pay off your debt without suffering for years on end! I chose to do it this way specifically so I could have 4 months off to pour into my creative endeavours and to creating new career ventures and focusing on myself. I set myself up to be able to do that financially, by also saving the money I know I’ll need. It doesn’t have to be all bad. It doesn’t have to mean you’ll have no life for years on end. It can be the way YOU want it to be. I am an example of that. I don’t have a stable paycheque. I don’t have a full time job. I don’t work a 9-5. Those are not ways of life that call to me and so I am paying off my debt my way.
Speaking of saving money, another reason my debt isn’t completely eradicated yet, is also because of this. To me, at age 30, as someone who had basically no savings, was a huge problem. This was something else I worked on with my financial coach. We set up a plan to create savings, and I did just that. I now have 4 different savings accounts, all allocated for different purposes. In addition to the amount of debt I’ve paid off, I have also created nearly the same amount in savings. This is something that is often overlooked in the numbers, and I want to point it out because I am REALLY freaking proud!
So, without further ado. The grande reveal. As of right now, I have paid off $25,681.09 of debt in the last 11 months, with the majority of this happening over my 135 days of planting. IN ADDITION, I have created $18,382.00 in savings. Which I am equally as proud of; possibly moreso!
My journey is far from over, and I still have a ways to go on being completely debt-free, which is my longer term goal. But this year went better for me than I could have ever imagined. I have nearly reached all of my big goals, as I am just $5400 away from achieving the last one. I could actually make it happen this instant, but I don’t want to reach into my emergency savings if I can help it. I have learned so much throughout my first year of this journey. Hard work played into a lot of it, but so did asking for help. The expertise, advice, leg-work, and support I received from working with a financial coach is the only reason I am in the position I am in now. Continued patience and a willingness to try doing it a different way is also what has led me to success so far in my debt journey. And lastly, trusting the Universe. I envisioned what I wanted for this money marathon; in fact I wrote it all down. I wrote down exactly how I wanted everything to go, down to the very end. So far, its pretty close to on point!