Once upon a time I was really good at saving money. While I was in high school I did lots of babysitting, lawn mowing, farm work, and worked weekends as a convenience store clerk. I think I graduated with about $10,000 in the bank. I also earned a full-ride scholarship for undergrad. Life was good - I was looking like a case study for ERE at 25.
Then the bad decisions piled up. Enrolled in law school for no reason other than that's what my friends were doing and surely there was a big income waiting for me in a few years. Unfortunately my 'education' up to that point never involved any studying, so law school completely overwhelmed me. Barely passed my first semester classes, dropped out during second semester. Congratulations kid, you're $20,000 in debt.
Lived like a bum for a while, wrote a basketball blog that eventually got mentioned in Sports Illustrated, but didn't make much money over the next year, and managed to max out a couple credit cards. Then I got the bright idea that I'd go back to school to get an education certification to teach high school math. But halfway through that first semester I met a girl and was far too distracted to be bothered with school again (discipline wasn't my strong suit back then).
Finally got my wake-up call a few months later when my car broke down. I was at the shop with my boss/mentor and my girlfriend. I needed about $900 for the repair, which I didn't have. The shop offered to finance it at 0% for three months - good enough. They swipe my card and - DENIED - bad credit. Having that happen in front of two people important to me was probably the most humiliating experience of my life. To top it off, my girlfriend paid for the car repair with her Christmas bonus (cue self-loathing). Time to make some changes! I hated the feeling that I was giving away control of my own life.
Started listening to a lot of Dave Ramsey (still do), delivered tons of pizza, and paid off about $12k in debt that first year, but still had $18k to go. Made it my New Year's resolution to be debt-free by the end of the year. I had to dig deep (and sell my precious Monte Carlo), but I made my last student loan payment on New Year's Eve, about eight months ago. The life I had to live in those two years was great training for ERE.
I've since cut back on a few of the extra work hours. My income isn't great right now, but I've been putting away about $1,000 a month since I broke the chains of debt slavery.
More to come....
- current lifestyle
- future plans/goals
- solicitation for advice