Getting Out of Debt And Starting My Photography Business
30K paid off in just 22 months… It’s crazy that I can even say that now! It’s not been easy, but it is achievable. Here’s how I did it:
A lot of people struggled during 2020, myself included, but it was a year of growth. I realized I was in an abusive relationship and needed to get out, I got deathly sick for 2 weeks (not COVID, just a really bad flu), and lost my job, literally all at the same time. I hit a rock bottom, and was severely depressed.
I moved away from my ex, and into a place with a good friend. The pandemic hit shortly after, and I was still jobless. Mourning the loss of a long term relationship and finding myself again, I was determined to turn my life around. No longer was I going to play victim to life’s circumstances. I was determined to take back control of my life. One of my goals was to pay off all of my debt after reading Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover. Although I don’t agree with everything in the book, one thing stood out and that was to pay off all of my debt as quickly as possible. I started with about 27k in student loan debt, and about 3K in other debt.
Living off my savings, I found a job at Costco during the pandemic. I made barely enough to pay my bills and groceries. I put myself on a very strict budget, and put anything extra towards debt, even if it was only $20-$30 at a time. My roommate and I then decided to take up Instacart, where we would get paid to grocery shop for people. I ended up pulling in an extra $200-$400 a month, every penny going towards debt. I remember almost crying when someone gave me a $50 tip - I was so determined to pay off debt.
During the pandemic, student loan interest was put on hold, so it was the opportune moment to pay down principal without having interest. I paid off my cell phone first, and some other debt, and then hit the ground running on my student loan debt. 27K. I was determined to be rid of it before the interest rates came back.
Every single stimulus check from the government went straight to debt. Every time I received money for my birthday or Christmas, it went towards debt. When I got a tax return, it went towards debt. I even told family members that I wouldn’t be buying birthday or Christmas gifts for a while to save money and pay down my debt. They were very supportive during the process.
After about 6 months at Costco, I needed to change my career path. I took the leap and quite my job and started my photography business. The first few months were scary, not knowing how to run a business and how to get clients. As a result, I had to put a hold on paying down debt for a minute, but after things started to pick up again, I was putting money towards debt. This time, I was making more money, but keeping myself on almost the same budget as I had before. Of course, I had to invest in my company along the way, so there were more expenses that way, but I tried to keep the expenses at a minimum.
Building a business, and putting anything extra towards debt has not been easy. However, I will say the process has been quicker because I have a completely different mindset about money. Building a business makes you think about money, relationships, and life a lot differently. You learn to look for opportunities wherever you go.
One of the opportunities that popped up was being able to buy out my 2019 Toyota Truck that was a lease, and turn around and sell it for more than I bought it for. The pandemic caused used cars to go up in value, a rare thing, but I saw the opportunity and ran with it. I used the extra cash from my truck to buy my current car. No more car payment - saving myself about $400 a month. $400 more towards debt.
Other opportunities arose last year that allowed me to make more money with my business. Networking, working with other business owners, and getting some bigger referrals all helped me put more money towards my debt.
As I continued to expand and invest into my business, I’ve felt incredibly grateful for the growth, and the ability to make enough money to pay off my debt. Every person who’s hired me this last year, I just want to say thank you T. Every person who paid me a gratuity, thank you. Every person who has supported me in one way or another, thank you. I seriously could not have done this without all of the support in my life!
Words almost can’t describe how grateful I am to finally be debt free. To know that I’ve put a lot of work into paying down 30K in the last 22 months is invigorating. I totally recommend anyone who wants to be finically free to pay down your debt first, and as quickly as possible. It’s a sacrifice, but I highly recommend anyone who is in debt to get rid of it. It is a huge burden off your shoulders. Plus, you can do so much more with your money once you are debt free.
So what’s next? Well, here’s my plan:
- Build and emergency fund. A fund that will last me at least 6 months if I don’t get any work at all.
- Build my 401K and have a nice retirement.
- Start saving up for a down payment on a house/or commercial property (can’t decide yet).
- Invest money in myself
So, here’s to being debt free and moving forward!
Now, I want to hear from you! Are you on a financial journey? Are you building a business? Maybe both? I want to hear about it. Email me and let's chat!