Recently, a post in one of my Facebook groups grabbed my attention. It was from a blogger named Candice (of Young Yet Wise) who shared she’d managed to pay off nearly $50,000 of debt! I find that this blog is a better place when I can include these additional stories from what others are doing to save money and live well. With that, I asked her if she’d be willing to let me interview her on the blog. She graciously obliged, and I’m delighted to share her interview with you. My hope is that Candice’s story may encourage and inspire you today, particularly if you’re dealing with burdensome debt.
With that, here’s Candice’s story. The questions in bold are my own, and Candice’s words follow.
If it’s not too personal to share, what kind of debt did you have, and/or how did you get into debt in the first place? Was it a sudden event, or was it something that built over time?
I graduated from college in 2011 with $38,500 worth of student loan debt (plus $4,935.93 in interest payments). I also racked up $4,000 worth of credit card debt. The credit card debt was built up over time from shopping, everyday purchases and traveling. Leaving me with a combined debt total of $47,435.93.
When did you realize you needed to do something about your debt? Did you have an “AHA” moment?
Yes, I realized I needed to do something about my debt when my older cousin asked me what my net worth was. I didn’t know what my net worth was at the time all I knew was that I had a ton of student loan debt. My cousin told me since I was 23 at the time than I should have at least $23,000 worth of assets. Which at that time I had nowhere near $23,000 worth of assets. I actually had a negative net worth. So that’s when I decided that something had to change. I first wanted to focus on investing my money so that once I became debt free I could have a positive net worth.
What method did you use to pay off your debt? How long did it take?
When it came to paying off my debt first I focused on getting rid of my credit card debt since the interest was much higher and then I moved on to my student loans. I used the snowball method to pay off my debt focusing on the smallest debt balance first. It took me 6 years to pay off all of my debt If I wasn’t focused on investing in the beginning I would’ve of paid if off faster. I was paying the minimum payment on my student loan debt until 2015.
What kind of life changes and sacrifices did you have to make to reach your goal?
In order to reach my goals I moved back home to save money on rent. I also relied on public transportation instead of buying a car. I tried to keep my expenses low, but I still traveled a few times a year. I couldn’t think of it as a sacrifice, but I had to think of it as me doing something that my future self would thank me for.
Had you ever tried paying off debt before unsuccessfully? What happened?
Yes before I knew about the snowball method I found myself putting extra money towards all of my debt, but found progress to be very slow that way. Once I was more focused on paying more money towards only one debt at a time I noticed my debt going down faster.
How did you stay motivated to pay off your debt when things got hard?
When things got hard and paying off debt became boring, I created a debt challenge with 9 other people on my email list. Each person paid a small fee to join and the person who paid off the most amount of debt in 11 weeks would win the pot of money. We ended up paying off $39,500 worth of debt combined in 11 weeks. One person even became debt free. It was cool way to turn something boring into a healthy fun competition.
Can you explain what it felt when you were finally debt free? What has your life been like now that you’re debt free?
It feels great to be debt free, almost unreal. I’ve worked so hard to get here and it’s made me realize that every payment no matter big or small has brought me to this debt free moment. Now I get to keep extra money for myself and use it towards my savings, traveling, or investments. Since I’m an entrepreneur it’s important for me to keep my expenses low so getting rid of all my debt has been very helpful.
Are there certain steps you’re taking to avoid getting into debt again?
I pay off my credit card balances in full each month and for large purchases I try to save for them in advance.
What advice or encouragement would you give someone who’s just starting to pay off their debt?
Remember that every payment counts, don’t look at the huge balance you may have focus on the smallest balance and get rid of that one first. Maybe even create a challenge with some of your friends and family get them involved and make paying off debt fun.
Candice Marie is passionate about helping people take control of their finances. She started the blog Young Yet Wise as a way to document her own money journey, as a result, she’s managed to bring her net worth from the negatives into the positives is currently debt free and wants to help others do the same. Candice enjoys long walks to the bank, eating dark chocolate, working out and reading personal finance books.
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