I’ve partnered with TransUnion to talk about how you can take control of your personal information and your finances to get on the right track when it comes to your life and your money. Though all opinions are my own, I’ve been compensated for this post.
When I married my husband, we both had a combined $60,000 in student loan debt. We went on to finance a luxury SUV to the tune of $30,000 and racked up another miscellaneous $30k or so in credit cards and other small debt obligations.
Just a few years into our marriage, we realized that the way we were handling our finances was not sustainable — especially if I was to stay home with our kids. This was very important to both of us, but in order to make it work, we’d have to bring our expenses down. After combing through our spending, it became clear: debt, high interest rates, and many bad money decisions could keep us from our goal. Plus, life was expensive with poor credit scores that came with those bad money decisions.
At this point, I felt so hopeless. How could we let money problems keep us from raising our kids the way we really wanted to? Who would have known that taking out tons of student loans and signing up for all those credit cards would affect my life so profoundly so many years later? After reality sank in, I began to look for resources that could help us manage our money better. I stumbled upon Dave Ramsey’s teachings and books, which helped us put a system in place to begin paying off our debt.
One of the first steps I took was getting a copy of our credit report. At this point, the amount of money we owed and to whom became clear. This helped us create an organized, systematic approach to paying off debt.
Amazingly, once we got our “ducks in a row” and committed to fixing our financial situation, more resources appeared in the form of discounts, extra income opportunities, and even debt forgiveness for some bills. Though it felt like we might never finish paying off our debt on one income, it became apparent that as long as we committed to the process, we’d have what we needed. This encouraged us as we trudged forward to pay off every last dime.
There were some months when we had large expenses and couldn’t pay down our debt as planned. It would be discouraging, but we decided to keep going. Then, there were other times when we received large windfalls of cash or money or additional income through my husband’s job or my side-hustling efforts. In those times, we had to be diligent about staying on track, even with big money wins under our belt.
Finally, about 5 years after we started the journey, we had paid the last of all the $120,000 in debt. We had so many questions on how we did it that I decided to start my blog in an attempt to mass mentor people who wanted to do the same thing. It was such an honor to be an inspiration to so many people!
Paying off all that debt has allowed us to do so many things, including homeschooling my children. My daughters have active careers in acting and entertainment as well. The flexibility I have as a result of not needing a full-time job has helped me support them in many ways. We invest their money and are so pleased to know that they will have things like a car, college and possibly even their first home without being deep in debt and in financial shambles. That alone, was worth every dollar of debt paid off!
We’ve also been able to save and invest additional money into retirement and non-retirement accounts. Covering things like cars, vacations and home renovations with cash have also been possible since paying off the debt. We’ve taken some cool vacations to places like the Dominican Republic, Cuba, California, Memphis and other fun locations. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of paying off debt is the feeling of peace and security while knowing that we are setting a good example for our children.
In the next phase of our journey, we are building wealth through investing in real estate. So far, we’ve acquired our first investment property with cash and have obtained a construction loan to renovate it. Without paying off debt and improving our credit, this would not have been possible. Plus, having an excellent credit score could help us refinance the home or even invest in more property when the time is right.
For the person wondering if it’s worth it to take control of your personal information and the related financial habits that create it, I want to assure you that it is. If you think you could never do it because of the amount of your debt, your income or other limiting factors, I want to let you know that it doesn’t matter. Sure, it may take you longer or you may be faced with some challenges along the way, but it can be done.
Choosing to manage your finances and personal information can have so many effects on your life when it comes to:
- Building wealth
- Applying for a job
- Applying for an apartment
- Getting insurance
- Reducing money-related stress
- The ability to save and invest for your kids’ future
- Giving to causes you care about
- And so much more
If you’re ready to start your journey to financial freedom, then you should know about some free tools from TransUnion, that can get you started:
- TransUnion.com and TransUnion’s blog offer a library of trustworthy credit tips and educational resources to help consumers understand and manage their credit
- TrueIdentity, a free credit and identity theft protection product designed to help consumers protect their identity through vigilance
- TrueCredit, a free credit management product designed to help consumers manage their credit through vigilance