A Straight Talk on Debt gives you the real deal on debt, straight from our employees and industry insiders. Learn more about our debt relief plans and important industry updates.
Today we are talking with David Weliver, owner of Money Under 30.
Debt changed my life.
When I was about 11 or 12, my father lost his job as a manufacturing executive. My parents went into debt as they attempted to maintain their lifestyle and put me through college. Seeing that, I think I internalized that debt was just a way of life. So when I got out on my own, I immediately used credit cards to live way beyond my means for several years. My stupidity was fun while the credit lasted, but eventually I was maxed out. I was in so much debt I was starting to have trouble meeting even the minimum payments, and I was stressed like you wouldn't believe.
Being in so much debt led to problems with my relationships and even psychical health issues that my doctors told me were brought on my chronic stress.
I hustled. And I got help.
After several years of trying to stop using credit cards and cut back on my spending, I ended up nowhere. I could got a few months and make a little bit of progress on my debt but then one big unexpected expense put me right back where I was.
So I started to earn more money.
I got a second job at a Starbucks and put all the money I earned---almost $1,000 a month---toward my debt. I was working almost 80 hours a week, sometimes without a day off, but I started to make progress, which kept me motivated. Around the same time I started making a little extra money from my blog. Every little bit helped.
Still, I wasn't making progress as fast as I should've been because every now and then I would slip and spend on something I shouldn't. One month I couldn't make a credit card payment, and I panicked. In all the trouble I had gotten into, I had always made my minimum payments. That's when I actually enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management plan. I had been studying debt management programs and decided that Care One was the best, but I put off using them because I wanted to be able to do it myself. I was smart---I was even blogging about money-I figured I didn't need help. But at the end of the day I wasn't getting out of debt because of psychology. I knew I didn't have the money to spend on going away with my friends or new clothes, but I did anyway. So what attracted me to a program like CareOne is, once enrolled, you HAD to cancel your credit cards. Along with the fact you just had one payment to make for a defined period of time.
I was one the program for a couple years before---thanks to second jobs and success with my blog---I was able to pay off all my debt a year or so early. It was helpful, and I actually wish I had joined earlier than I did!
Money Under 30 is about learning to be financially independent. That means a lot of things: from dealing with student loans to using credit responsibly to investing for the first time to buying a first home. The name says "Under 30", but I'm 31 now, and I've had readers in their 40s, 50s, even their 70s email me to say the blog has been helpful!
Absolutely. When I get an email from somebody who has made progress on their debt because of something I've written, it makes my day. And sometimes they write simply because I've given them hope. Debt isn't the end of the world---it's just an obstacle to become overcome.
Make good financial habits automatic. In other words, don't trust yourself to pay that extra $100 towards your debt or put money in your IRA every quarter. Set up automatic transfers so you don't even realize that money was ever in your checking account. If you tend to rack up credit card debt, then cancel the credit cards: don't allow yourself the temptation. That said, I'll add a second: Don't become so over-focused on saving that you don't enjoy today. It's about balance. Managing money is about balance: some for tomorrow, some for today.
At CareOne we believe personal experiences are what make an expert. Please visit David at his blog, Money Under 30 for personal finance advice from someone who knows what being in debt is like.