The Constant White Noise That Debt Creates in Your Life
Having debt is similar to having tinnitus…you never know how much noise the debt takes up in your life until it’s gone. The constant whine that you get used to until it abruptly stops. I came to this realization when I accidentally noticed that I was missing something from my daily life: being in contact with my debtors.
Hey, Girl Hey
Was the white noise of my debtors being in constant contact with me via:
- Letters-Because, I was behind on my debts.
- Calls-Umm, because even when I called to communicate (depending on how I was doing mentally) they would call to “just check in.”
- Emails-Because, you have to copies of everything that is going on.
When I first started my financial journey, I had an enormous mess that I was trying to manage. My financial life had turned pear shaped after years of not knowing how to manage my finances with the additional financial pressure of helping my mom during a prolonged period of unemployment (while I was working at Starbucks). Yep, that sucked.
My personal finance skills comprised of a willingness to work really hard. I didn’t have great savings skills, and credit cards were my kryptonite. Put in simple terms: I was a financial hot mess.
2012-My Financial Journey Begins
It sucked. Honestly, if felt like nothing I did was working. And, I was still getting letters, calls, and emails. Not to mention…the constant notifications on my cell phone. What I didn’t realize was that…I had gotten used to the constant noise of debt in my life.
Almost like a slightly itchy wool blanket that you still use because you can wear something to buffer you between the blanket and the eventual itch it would give you. My false wealthy lifestyle was that itch. Every time I charged a trip, clothes, or something fun the noise would get louder-but, I was so used to it that I didn’t hear it.
Then, despite myself, I started to notice the noise because my focus had shifted. I had reached a personal and professional breaking point and was desperate to make some changes to my life. So, I dug in deep.
And, nothing seemed to change.
I worked on my habits. I looked closely at my budget, my spending my earnings. I from April 1, 2013-April 1, 2014 I even stopped shopping.
Still, it felt like nothing seemed to be changing…but, it was. Each day I was taking baby steps. I would stop charging on my credit cards and then I would charge again. Fail. Then, I started tracking my money. Again, it felt like nothing was changing.
What I didn’t know was that each habit that I worked on was changing…me.
Then, I began paying on my debts. I will be honest and say that I tried to be organized, but the truth is this process was a bit more haphazard than I would have like because in the middle of my journey I quit my job. Yep, because that made sense.
Leaving Saved My Life
Really. My body was breaking down day by day. A tooth fell out, my hair broke off, I gained a ton of weight, I was having panic attacks, and basically losing it. I quit my job in an act of self-love and self-preservation. It was a crazy…but, I was going crazy. Somethng had to give. So, I left.
But, each day, week, month I took action. Somedays the actions were small. Other days they were huge, and after awhile something started to happen. Those actions added up.
The White Noise
Began to go away. The letters slowed down to the point where I stopped getting so much mail. I stopped getting calls and my emails from creditors became non-existent.
I started getting solicitations to open new credit cards (no thanks). It goes without saying that as my debt related White Noise began to go away I found myself better able to focus on the remaining debts that I had.
The lack of structure and focus that I previously dealt with eased away to an almost obsessive focus that has now shifted to a focus on growing my income moving forward. During the course of this journey, I lowered my expenses by $13, 500 (find out how) and I’ve truly changed my life.
So, why on earth did I decide to share this post? I wanted to remind those of you who are just in the beginning of your debt-freedom journey, or seem to be stuck at the mid-point of journey…
What you’re doing is changing your life and making a difference. You may not feel like it right now. You may feel frustrated and discouraged, so I wanted to encourage you. Keep on going. What has been frustrating for me is that this journey feels like it’s never going to end. I have another two years to go. But, in two or three months I will have only 2 big bills: my mortgage (which is actually VERY small) and my student loans. Instead of working on around a minimum of 12-15 debts, I just have to focus on 2.
I can do that.
My Financial Life Now
It’s not perfect. I’m now focused on earnings and the mental block that I discovered I was dealing with concerning underearning. This will require me to dig deep and get uncomfortable but I’m willing to do that because I see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Every once and awhile the financial White Noise flares up…but I notice it right away and take of it before it gets out of control.
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