Recently I published a blog over on my pal Kate Northrup’s site called “How I Seduced Myself Out of $40K in Debt.” Since then I’ve gotten several requests from readers to share the steps of how I did it. Often when we hear miracle stories of debt melting away, it can make getting out of debt feel impossible unless we hear the nitty-gritty of how to make it happen. So today my darlings, I am performing a little striptease of the soul and sharing my experience just for you.
Before I begin though, please note:
If you plan on skimming this article, I recommend that you do not read it at all.
This is not financial advice column or a how-to checklist. If all you read are the bullet points you won’t get anything of value out of this article. I recommend that you stop what you’re doing, slow down, and read the story beneath each bullet point. The substance and the strength is always in the story.
1. I fully cashed in my 401K.
Back when I was working as a corporate trainer I squirreled away big chunks of every paycheck to my retirement, and managed to save about $20,000. In the back of my mind (usually in the tone of my Dad’s voice) I have always had a voice that says: “DON’T EVER TAKE FROM YOUR RETIREMENT ACCOUNT, NO MATTER WHAT.” One day I was comparing the statements and I realized that the interest I was earning on the 401K was not even coming close to the interest I was paying on the credit cards. So I called a financial advisor to make sure I wouldn’t be struck by lightning if I made this move, and after getting the ok, I dumped the account and put almost all of it towards my credit cards, while saving some to begin building an emergency savings account.
2. I moved out of my expensive NYC lifestyle and have been living with my Mom for the last seven months.
I planned to move in with my Mom for just a month or two while I caught my breath after 15 years of living in NYC. It’s been seven months now! I am having a blast living with my Mom, and I am saving huge amounts on rent, utilities, transportation and meals. Next month I am planning on moving out and onto my next adventure, but I am eternally grateful to have had a soft place to land while I got back on my feet.
3. I figured out how to create a budget.
This is an art I am just starting to learn and have a long way to go with. The hardest thing about budgeting I find is being realistic. There is the temptation when budgeting to massively undercut and expect to just “be more disciplined about spending”, but this is a totally symptom based solution and has never gotten me anywhere. Honesty is everything when it comes to financial wellness.
4. Once I had a budget, I created a debt plan.
Sometimes when I would see a looming 5 digit number on my credit card bill, there was the temptation to just pay off a big chunk whenever I had an influx of money. This is a cannibalistic cycle. The credit card bill went down and made me feel better for about three days, but with no money in the bank I’d just go back to debting a week or so later. I’ve learned that paying down debt is a LONG-GAME. Once I had a budget, I had a number that I could pay towards my debt every month after meeting my basic expenses. In the beginning if I had followed this formula it would have meant I would be in debt for the next ten years. But after making some drastic changes (like #1 and #2) the time was drastically reduced.
5. I found a deeper purpose for creating wealth.
After I moved into my Mom’s house, every morning I would sit on the screened-in porch under a blanket and read the book Sacred Success by Barbara Stanny. Every time I felt compelled to underline something in the book I would write it down on a flashcard, and then I would re-read the flashcards every day. This book cemented in a consciousness that getting out of debt and building a solid financial house is not just about lack of discipline, it is about resistance to owning our power. In order to see an outer result I had to do some serious inner work that this book helped me with tremendously. I cannot recommend Barbara’s books or her retreat highly enough.
Another book that was pivotal for me: The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist. This book is all about the condition of scarcity, and the detrimental effect it is having on us as individuals, on humanity and on the planet. I now have a deep purpose towards my fulfilling my financial goals and I am very grateful that these two books landed in my lap.
6. I realized that debt is very un-sexy.
After worrying about money all the livelong day for years, one day I had a realization: debt is so un-sexy. Not only was it affecting my checkbook and credit score, it was affecting everything – my sex life, my confidence, how I was able to take care of myself, my relationships – everything. Living in debt is living on borrowed energy. When you don’t have ownership of your energy, it makes it very difficult to be present. Once I realized this, it made it easy to pick up the dustpan and broom and start cleanin’ up my financial house.
7. I stopped debting. Period.
I once read in a book about compulsive debting that “the only way to get out of debt is to stop debting, period.” Once I started doing this, everything changed. I still carry a credit card for emergencies, but if an emergency occurs, I immediately make a payment to pay down the balance, even if it is only five dollars. I also realized that if it impossible for me to pay my living expenses and not be debting, something drastic needed to change (hence step #1 and #2).
8. Most importantly: I WISED THE F*CK UP.
When I look over these steps I realize that much of what was causing me to continue debting was sheer ignorance and lack of basic knowledge about financial management, as well as a refusal to look honestly at my spending. Today, when I notice my consciousness dimming like a light bulb, I stop and tune in. I get out a pen and paper, write down my bank balance, and physically record how my spending is deducting from my account. It doesn’t mean I always restrain, but at least it keeps me honest, because in the end the most important thing I’ve learned is this: Honesty Is The Antidote To Debt (tweet it!)
The best part is, I have never felt more seductive, sexy and sure of myself. I have the confidence of a woman initiated, and I feel excited about my financial future after how far I’ve come.
Do tell in the comments:
Which of these points do you most relate to? Which do you struggle with the most? I read and respond to every single one.
Rooting for you,
P.S. – The Sacred Seduction Instagram Challenge has been a TOTAL blast so far! It is amazing to see so many women from all over the world practicing seduction every day. You can jump in at anytime, join us by following me @kittycavalier and using the tag #sacredseduction!