After graduating college I took a massive leap of faith and moved to Washington D.C. with my cousin, without a plan and without a job. For those who know me, this is extremely unlike me. However, faith is the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Unfortunately, my first year in DC, I was not seeing a lot: a full time job, a steady paycheck, or a way to quickly change my situation.
It was around this time that I thought I should get my first ever credit card. You know, to start my life as an adult. I was with Bank of America at the time and they had a starter card with low risk. I promised myself I wouldn't ever reach the full balance on the card, which I think was about $500. As I understood it, I had to build credit to survive in this world; but that didn't mean I had to like it. I would purchase everything on my credit card and then immediately transfer the money over to pay off the charge. I was determined that the credit card companies wouldn't get any money out of me owing interest. As you can imagine, this got tiring real quick. I needed to find a new way to take control of my financial future.
At the time, I worked as a temp at Time Warner Inc., as well as doing nights and weekends at Ann Taylor. I was crossing the street on the way to the Time Warner office, when it struck me: I wanted to pay off my student loans. I was already living with very little income, and I knew that I would get a salaried job at some point (there's that faith again because I certainly wasn't seeing any salaried job anywhere near me). I was banking on the fact that any salaried job I had would pay significantly more than my temp and part time jobs did. My radical idea was this: what if I continued to live off the same monthly amount I was making at the time and put all my extra funds to my loans? I bet I could pay them off pretty quickly.
Now, I didn't know anyone who had paid off their student debt, or was even considering doing so. To me though, it made sense. I hate owing anyone money, or anything else for that matter. Just because I didn't know the person I owed money to didn't make the situation any more tenable for me. The problem was, I had no idea how to go about it. To my knowledge, people considered student debt good debt (more on that later). Luckily, after talking to her about my radical idea, my landlady (and dear friend) at the time recommended a great resource to me: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. This book literally changed my life.
As this blog title suggests, this was the start of my journey. I recently read a Bible study that said change happens by making a decision. I know that sounds easy, but that's how my journey started. I decided I wanted to live free of student debt. I encourage you to make a similar decision to start your own financial journey. Maybe its about paying off that car note, or saving up for your children's college education. Whatever that decision point is, make it. It'll be one of the best decisions you ever make.