We spoke with Deshena Woodward of Extravagantly Broke at FinCon19 about her debt-free journey. Here’s what she shared:
I paid off my home, I paid off all my vehicles. I would sat in total, cause it’s been a series of a few years in total probably at least $150,000.00 dollars. I’ve had tax debt where I owed at least $5,000, which is not as much as some people, but it hurt me at the time because I was only working part – time. My husband worked, but we had a small kid and so I didn’t work a whole lot and then, all of a sudden we get hit with this tax bill out of nowhere on my already strained finances.
Just in general, debt was wearing me down. It was actually, you know, I didn’t feel happy, you know? With my life. It was just too much. It’s like you know you can’t enjoy life when you have this hanging over your head you know that you owe people. I don’t like to owe people. I just want to live comfortably.
There was a time where I just felt like there was no hope, like I would never get out of debt. Is it even possible? But when I changed the way I deal with things, I changed my finances and the way I viewed money and so then I was able to stop and to spend within my means. I started spending within my means and looking for any opportunities I had to save more money and eventually I was able to get out of debt so it is possible, even though right now it might seem bleak and like, it will never end – it can end, but for that to change, you have to change. Otherwise, you’ll keep saying “next year”. It took me years. Each year I would still be in the same situation so that’s why I had to make that change so the next year, things were a little bit better and the year after that it was even a little bit better and eventually, just as of recently, I became 100% debt free. So, it is possible.
I just would wanted to learn to live comfortably and to me being in debt was not comfortable. So it is like, I let go of caring about what other people thought of me and just focus on my family and what I can do to help get better for my family and that just didn’t involve a lot of experiences, you know? We just budgeted and just cut back but still live comfortably. I never feel like we missed out on anything.
My daughter just graduated from college with almost no debt. She has a few thousand dollars in student loans but that’s it, because I wanted to make sure she didn’t have that burden. She is pursuing becoming debt-free – I’ve been grooming her well so she didn’t need to go to Harvard unless they would give her a full scholarship. She can go to Harvard because she can get in but unless they’re gonna give her a full scholarship, no. I mean you can go to a community college for two years and then you can go right to a college that is nearby still stay home, save money, not have to be burdened by student loan debt once she graduates. And now that she has, as soon as she gets a job she can pay it off soon. Quickly.
You can do it. It’s possible. First of all you can limit your debt, keep it to a minimum. I mean, there’s always gonna be bills unless you can you know make your own food or produce your own electricity you’re always gonna have bills but you don’t have to have debt. I try to share with people that debt does not have to be a lifestyle. I mean, we just kind of accept it like, as the norm, that’s what everybody does you know? I only have one credit card and I don’t use it unless I can pay it off in the next month. So I just want people to know that if you’re spending, if you can’t afford to buy that and you can’t afford to pay that next month, that means you can’t afford it you know? I know we all feel like we want to, you know, have everything and you can, just not always at the same time.