Free at Last! • March 2015
I can hardly believe it. It is done.
The photo here was taken in August of 2010 when I started my program with the Credit Counselling Society to get me out of debt. I had had the "holy shit" moment in January of that year when I finally realized that what I was doing (using credit cards to pay off other credit cards, and making minimum payments on everything - but never actually getting ahead) was never, EVER going to work. I was paying more in interest payments at that point than I was paying in RENT every month! I owed $96,000 and had no idea how on earth I was ever going to pay that back, but I knew I had to stop burying my head in the sand and pretending to everyone that everything was fine.
The choice was clear:
1. Declare bankruptcy and deal with the ugly consequences of that decision
(it's NOT a fun process).
2. Find an alternate solution where I could pay back all the principal I owed -
but get out of the 19% - 29% interest that was killing me.
I chose option #2. I knew that I had created this mess, and I needed to own it and
suck it up.
I don't remember a time ever in my adult life when I wasn't in debt of some kind. I was reckless and irresponsible with credit cards: side note - I had one helluva lot of fun - financed my entire trip to Peru and all the fanciest gear to hike the Inca Trail on credit, along with my super-fun first-time trip to NYC! I had another huge chunk of debt attributed to expenses for building my dream project (PeoplewithDiabetes.ca) after I got hosed by a couple of sponsors who re-neged on their commitment to me for what we were doing. I also didn't put any $$ aside for taxes, so when Revenue Canada came calling, all of that ended up landing on very high-interest rate credit cards. It was the perfect storm.
I would consider myself a reasonably intelligent person, but I had been seduced by the illusion and promises of quick & easy money (which never materialized) during my days in venture capital. I had somehow always thought that my "situation" would be resolved by some magical stock deal - but alas, that was never the case.
I had to get through this the old-fashioned way: one paycheck at a time, being frugal, being open with my friends and colleagues about why I couldn't go out and spend $$ on unnecessary things, asking for help when I needed it, and learning to be happy with less. It has been an utterly transformational journey, and looking back on it now - I am better for it. It caused me to evaluate what I really "need," what's important, and I look at all of my spending decisions very carefully now in a way I never did before. I am proud of having dared to own my own mistakes and tackling them head-on, and showing that it's actually possible to get out of an unfathomable and seemingly hopeless scenario, one day at a time.
I don't think that this particular part of my life's journey is something I had ever imagined sharing broadly before, but if it can offer others some hope and show that it's possible to emerge triumphant, then I'm glad to share it. You can do this. It won't be easy, but it's possible. You just need to find the courage to do what it takes to make it happen.
Love, Strength, and Blessings,
Inspiring others to live inspired lives
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