We know this saying…it begins with one step. That’s exactly what Terria Lewis is doing as she consented to share her story for the New Year New You 2015 collection of profiles.
We’ve talked with many who’ve made great strides is paying down or paying off debt. The one thing they all have in common…the decided to get started.
Terria’s debt situation has a familiar ring: medical debt and student loans! She would absolutely prefer to be free of her student loans, but hasn’t given the loans a consistent focus in the past.
This is a very special profile, because Terria is just starting to get serious. I’m looking forward to her debt free date because we’ll be able to say – girl, we remember when you let your light shine and shared your story so that others might be inspired to join you.
Debt is an equal opportunity problem. As a community, we have the opportunity to support and motivate one another so that debt freedom is not just a pipe dream, but our reality.
If you – like Terria – are just getting started, I’ve included suggestions following her interview.
1. How long have you been actively working on your goal to eliminate debt? Off and on for a couple years. I eliminated a few collections by settling them when we were in the process of purchasing a home. I’ve eliminated the majority of [the debt in collection] which consists of mainly medical bills. The rest are student loans.
2. How much student loan debt do you have? Currently, it is just about $90k. This is part of the reason I quit grad school because it was quickly accumulating!!
3. What resources have you found helpful throughout the process? I have not used many resources. Honestly, I should have been trying to research ways to dump this student loan debt!!
4. How comfortable are you talking about finances with your circle of friends or close family? I’m comfortable!
5. What are you top 3 financial goals for 2015 and how do you plan to accomplish them? My top 3 financial goals for 2015 are to truly save, dump majority of my debt (student loans), increase income!
6. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned thus far in your debt free journey? Steer clear of debt! It may seem nice and cool now but it will truly come back to bite you in the pockets!! Seriously, I would say to try not to get so many student loans and apply for as many scholarships as possible. Also, it pays to save and plan for rainy days!
7. How motivated are you to pay off your student loans on a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being very motivated? 20!!! HIGHLY MOTIVATED!! I am just having trouble on where to start and in planning the budget to see what I can afford or what I can go without to pay off the loans!
8. What has been the biggest obstacle so far to accomplishing your financial goals? I would say my current budget/expenses. My credit card debt is really minute!!! I have a few collections that are literally medical bills. The main objective is the student loans!!
Terria has made an excellent decision – to dump debt. She’s also in a good space because she’s open to talk about her journey with those around her – and the Internet! Fear and shame will be much less of an obstacle to seeking help as a result.
To be successful, those who are just starting should:
- Focus on building your budgeting skills. Budgeting doesn’t come natural for all, but with practice, you’ll be an expert in no time. Budget BFF (Part I)
- Increase your financial IQ. Make sure you’re reading or listening to some personal finance topic each week. The more you learn, the better decisions you can make. Your doing well by starting with these series. Check out more New Year New You 2015 profiles to stay motivated.
- Set up an accountability structure. Surround yourself – either in person or virtually – with a group that will help you stay focused on your goal. Stay connected with the Debt Free Divas online via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
- Determine your debt free date. Identify what you owe specifically and, based on a reasonable budget, what you can pay off each pay period. Need help calculating that date? Here you go…Debt Free Date calculator
- Find ways to maintain your motivation. This journey can be long and tedious. I have a few ideas in this post: 10 Tips to Fend Off Frugal Fatigue
- Take notes. Joe Mihalic set out to pay off $80,000 in Student Loans in 1 Year. How creative can you become with your resources to achieve your goal?