Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, life is getting better as I develop in my sobriety. Part of my development includes knowing freedom and losing the fear of economic insecurity that has plagued me since I started footing the bill for my life. These Promises from the Big Book are beginning to take shape.

I have racked up quite a bit of debt over the past 10 years. Student loans and credit cards floated me through the majority of my twenties. It’s not that I didn’t understand that loans have to be repaid or that credit cards can charge crazy interest, it’s more that I chose to ignore the long-term consequences in order to satisfy myself in the moment. There is a great line on page 49 of the 12X12 that says, “We eat, drink and grab for more of everything than we need, fearing we shall never have enough.”

I have lived as a greedy little consumer for a long time and that grabbing/desiring/wanting is all fear-based and ego-driven. If you can pay for it with a credit card, I probably have: furniture, books, haircuts, eye exams, groceries, painting our home, getting new windows, cigarettes, alcohol, cell phone bills, clothes, vet bills, plane tickets, hotels, dinners, gas… you get the point. When I got married, neither myself or my husband had a steady job and I was about to start my Masters program. I bought about $5000 worth of furniture on credit so I could play house and we could appear to be a successful young couple in a cool loft apartment. I spent some pretty desperately drunk times on one of those stupid couches. This was the beginning of making financial decisions based on impulse, self-satisfaction, ego and a sense of entitlement.

No more! I want to be free from owing other people for my existence. The home I live in doesn’t quite belong to me. The student loans won’t be paid off until my own children go to college. The disposable income we have every month that could be saved, invested or used to enrich our lives is eaten up by credit card payments. It’s hard to feel free when you are wearing a $250k pound backpack of I.O.U.s. I would rather be free from debt than wear fancy clothes. I would rather be free from debt than drink Starbuck’s coffee everyday. I would rather be free from debt than buy that really cool piece of art I found on etsy.com.  Freedom doesn’t mean being able to buy whatever I desire – freedom means 100% ownership and acceptance of what I have.

The point of all this rambling is to share a website called powerpay.org. It’s a free resource that helps individuals create a debt elimination plan. We are utilizing the Dave Ramsey system of paying off debt smallest balance to largest balance.

Anyone else found financial freedom in sobriety? Any tips or suggestions for getting out of debt?

4 thoughts on “powerpay

  1. If you are that much in debt have you considered filing for bankruptcy? My girlfriend had a total of TWENTY (20) credit cards with a total debt amount reaching almost $35,000! The day she filed for bankruptcy we had a Cut the Credit Cards up party to celebrate. A year later, she’s living in a beautiful ocean front apartment, was able to co-sign for a used vehicle, and has learned that if you can’t buy it with cash, then you probably don’t need it as badly as you think lol.

  2. I bet that was a good feeling to cut up all those cards! We have about $130k in student loans and about $20k in credit cards. We never miss payments, we are just working on increasing the amount we put toward our debt so we can wipe it out (excluding student loans and mortgage) in two years. Then we are going to put all that money onto our student loans and home so we can be completely debt-free in 10 years. All this is banking on the fact that we both keep our jobs. In this economy, I guess you never know how long you are going to have a steady paycheck!

  3. I’m proud of you for working through your debt and NOT filing bankruptcy. The Dave Ramsey plan works! I used it, and then slipped up as I never addressed the root causes of my spending (ego, alcohol, “i want it” mentality). Finally, my husband and I are on the same page and working the plan again together. I love your blog – found it through the BFB website. Good Luck and keep on keepin on!

    1. Thanks for visiting the blog. It’s amazing how sitting down to write helps me sort out some of my thinking and behavior. Did you check out the powerpay website? It’s kind of a neat way to see all the debt in one place. We are trying to be “gazelles,” but some weeks are better than others. One thing I do know is that when I was drinking, I had no ability to delay gratification in lots of areas of my life. Like you said, I was all about how can I feel good now and feed my “I want it” mentality. I love BFB. So glad I found it. I will look for you on the boards.

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