The whole process took 18 months. I put all tax refunds and bonuses toward paying down my debt and paid off as much as I could each month. I was serious about being free.
It was a painful year and a half, but deciding to pay off all my debt was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It taught me how to live simply, to enjoy what I have and to be more patient. It ultimately changed the way I thought about money, and the daily actions, over time, became automatic habits.
When I paid off that last credit card, it was such a great feeling! I told my new boyfriend at the time, now my husband, on the phone and we both shouted, “Woohoo!” We celebrated that night with a nice dinner out.
Eventually, I began sharing my financial struggles with other women, and one suggested I teach a workshop on the subject. I started asking friends and friends of friends if they would be interested in getting smarter about money too. On a Saturday morning, 10 women showed up to a friend’s apartment ready to learn. It was so thrilling. I made it a workshop specifically for women because I wanted us to be able to open up and share emotionally, which I think is easier when it’s just other women in the room. From there, I recognized a real need for simple, honest financial counseling for women, so I began teaching more classes and taking on private clients.
Now four years into what turned into my own money coaching practice, I’m working full time teaching women how to quickly take control of their finances and helping them transform their relationship with money.
The most rewarding part: when clients come back to me six months or a year after our sessions, reporting that they’ve paid off their credit card debt or student loans entirely. One woman in my workshop looked at her financial snapshot and recognized a need to earn more money. A few months later, she landed a new job, nearly doubling her income. Another woman used the tools to save $10,000 and go back to school full time with a scholarship. Other clients have a clear date on the calendar for when they’re going to be debt free, which gives them peace of mind.
And then there are the softer examples. Women report that they feel less anxious about their finances. One client told me she sleeps better at night now knowing she’s on the right track with her finances. Another reported she and her husband fight less about money. Although it takes some time, most of my clients wean themselves off using credit cards. If they don’t, I encourage them to use just one card and pay the balance in full every month.
I'm so happy to be have come full-circle: repairing my finances and then sharing what I’ve learned with others through my own small business.
Jill Davi blogs about taking control of your finances at http://abundantfinances.com/blog/.