Are you ready for some financial inspiration? This week I have the pleasure of interviewing Lindsey from Cents, Sense & Sensibility. She blogs about getting out of debt and taking control of your financial future. She offers her own personal journey to financial freedom and tips on budgeting, saving money, and investing. Make sure you stop by and visit anytime, she would love to hear from you!
Let’s hear how Lindsey has taken control of her finances:
What event lead you to want to get out of debt and simplify your finances?
It was about seven years ago. My best friend came to visit me for the weekend and it just happened to be on a payday weekend. I had a routine that I went through every pay day in order to ensure I had money for everything. At that point, I was relying on payday loans to get me through the month. I knew on one level it was a big mess, I just didn’t let myself think about it.
She watched me frantically run around and arrange new due dates with billers, wait for my last pay day loan to clear, and then run back into the same payday loan center and negotiate a new amount. This nonsense took most of the day and was beyond stressful. After everything was done, she asked me if I thought this was normal. I blinked a couple times and realized that I actually did think it was normal. It was that day I knew things had to change.
What area of your financial life needed the most help or simplification?
I needed to find a way to get my debt under control. No matter how closely I stuck with a budget or how frugal I was, the numbers just didn’t add up. I never had enough money to pay the bills and my debt. I needed some help simplifying my debt so I could get the rest of my finances in order.
What steps did you take to get your finances in order?
I had to face facts and understand that my debt was much bigger problem than I could hope to solve myself. The first step had to be finding a way to control my debt. Since I didn’t have the credit to do it on my own, I enrolled in a credit counseling program called Orderly Payment of Debts. It consolidated all my debt, set an interest rate, and put everything together into one payment that was more manageable.
What was the biggest financial mistake or mistakes you have made?
I think the biggest mistake I made was taking out too many student loans. By the time I graduated, I had over $50,000 in student loans. In a sense, I was finished before I even had a chance to start. I just didn’t realize it yet.
Please understand I’m not saying that everyone who has a large student loan is doomed. For me, it just wasn’t a good idea. There were definitely some extenuating circumstances: I was a single mother and I took a degree in something that wasn’t going to be profitable until much farther into my career. Not surprisingly, a big student loan number, combined with being a lone parent and employed in a lower paying profession was not a recipe for success.
What was your biggest challenge or roadblock to eliminating your debt and get your finances in order?
I think I felt trapped by my limited earning potential. After a while, I just ended up not even trying – everything felt so pointless. It wasn’t until I realized that I could get creative with how I made money that I understood I could take control and write my own future.
What app or tool did you use?
I’ve used several apps and tools over the years; I liked Quicken for tracking my finances but have recently moved to Mint.com. It’s great because I can access it from everywhere and it sends me notifications on changes or charges to my accounts.
How has eliminating debt and simplifying changed your life?
Well, I haven’t fully eliminated my debt but I’m well on my way! Simplifying my finances has been about simplifying my life. I’m practicing good financial habits every day and I’ve devoted myself to learning more about how to be better at money. This has helped me be more flexible with how I approach new problems and planning for my future.
Are there any areas of your finances that you still need some work?
For sure. I think my finances will always need work because there is always room for improvement. At this point, I think I’m most concerned with having the resources to manage crises that always seem to come up. I don’t want to dig into my retirement savings whenever something happens so I need to find an alternative. I need a strategy for building an emergency fund for the future while dealing with whatever crisis happens in the present.
What advice or tips would you give to others who want to get their finances in order?
Everyone is in a different place when they start thinking about getting their finances in order. Some people really need to work on a budget, while others need to increase their earning potential, and still others need to do some retirement planning.
It’s important for you to determine what priorities are for yourself. Take the time to organize your finances in a way that works for you and go from there. You can do it!
What book, blog, or podcast would you suggest to someone who is looking to simplify or improve their finances?
The book that really got me moving in the right direction was the Smart Cookies Guide to Making More Dough by Andrea Baxter, Angela Self, Katie Dunsworth, Robyn Gunn, and Sandra Hanna. I started a money group with some like-minded ladies and got going on fixing my finances.
I liked that this book was written by Canadian women who just wanted to improve their money situation. They didn’t have any special knowledge or understanding about their finances; they just wanted a better future and made that happen for themselves. It was really relate able and inspiring at a time in my life when I felt overwhelmed by all my money issues.
Thanks Lindsay for taking some time to share your thoughts and how you have simplified your finances. She offers some great advice Simplifying my finances has been about simplifying my life. I’m practicing good financial habits every day and I’ve devoted myself to learning more about how to be better at money. This has helped me be more flexible with how I approach new problems and planning for my future.
To read previous interviews in the series click Simple Inspiration Interviews.
If you are interested in sharing how you have simplified your financial life, send me an email and I will follow up with you.
Enjoy the rest of your week. Til next time, take one step at a time to simplify.