Three years ago, my life came to a point where I was going to sink or swim. I found myself a divorced mother of two, moving back in with my mom, unemployed, in debt and without a car. I was unable to make payments on my bills and was getting by with the help of child support and a little government assistance. It was during a particularly low moment that I decided to fight my way out of this situation and, while doing so, share my story so that others may avoid the same mistakes I made.
I created a blog and started it by announcing to the world how much debt I had accumulated. I began sharing how I came to be in such a position. It boiled down to three key factors, and I think these are the same for most people who find themselves in debt.
1. Lack of education. I was raised by a single mom who with little knowledge of personal finance. She thought that the only way to live was to be in debt. Therefore, I learned very little about how to handle my own finances. When it was time for me to buy things I needed in college and I could no longer turn to my parents, I took out credit cards. Unfortunately, I was not educated in the proper ways of using those cards and in just a few short years, my credit card debt was out of control.
2. Lack of impulse control. While in college, I went through a great deal of depression. One of the best things I did was seek help though the university counseling services. It was then that I discovered how much I was feeding my emotions through credit cards. I was unable to control those impulses to shop and spend. It took years of counseling and years of maturity to really come to terms with this issue.
3. Lack of planning. Because I did not receive a solid education in finances, I was unable to adequately plan for my future. I did not know how to plan out a budget. I was unable to plan ahead for unforeseen expenses like car repairs or even regular maintenance. My inability to plan a budget caused me to overspend and unable to save.
It has been my goal over the past three years to share my story and encourage others to have conversations about finances. I want to encourage parents to speak with their children, to use my story of the debt trap to discuss the proper ways to handle their finances. I urge everyone to have an open dialogue with those they love about money and to remove the stigma. Ignoring the topic of money does not help anyone.
I hope, through my posts with Dimespring, I can encourage everyone to open those lines of dialogue by sharing the lessons I've learned and the steps I wish someone had shown me many years ago.