You know how people say getting out of debt and building wealth require sacrifice? Well, they are not kidding. I dug myself out of a small mountain of consumer and student loan debt in 12 months making not much money and today I’ll tell you what it took.
I spent a lot more time working instead of enjoying life outside of work. But I don’t regret it. I might have missed a party or two (dozens) and stop sleeping in on Sundays, but if I carried on with the same lifestyle as my friends back then, there is a good chance I’d still be up to my nose in debt.
Did you know that when you give up your personal time, you also give up personal life? The two go hand in hand and the commitment to clear the debt did cost me friends. Not all friends, mainly the friends who threw and joined all those parties I missed. The hard truth is that you become alike with people who you surround yourself with. But it’s not just a hard truth, it’s also a heartbreaking and a hopeful truth because it means that it’s on you to choose your tribe. In my case it was important to make some grown up choices about who I should spend my time with. On the other side of that tough year I had less friends, but better relationships.
For almost a whole year my fun money was limited to somewhere around £20-£50 per month. Let’s just agree – this does not go very far in London. The tiny spending pot simply meant that in between working a lot more and going out for ‘big night’ out less, if I wanted to see friends, it was over a coffee or for a walk in the park.
In many aspects for life I am all up for exchanging money for convenience. Food delivered, cleaning service, somebody else running my errands – I’m up for that any day. And all that went away. It got to the point where instead of paying more for my commute I would walk from London Bridge to Shoreditch and back daily (almost 30 mins each way) to pay less for my monthly travel card. This had the positive effect of me becoming comfortable being uncomfortable in many situations, including work and negotiating outside of work. I lost the fear of the unknown to a desire to keep trying new things, streamline my life and enjoy the effects.
It used to be real for me. But it had to go. And in its place, determination slid right in. Because my social and work life went though somewhat of a seismic shift I came to realise that I am not missing out on what ‘might be’, I am capitalising on what already ‘is’.
I gave up a boat load of other things, from buying expensive house plants to Netflix, but honestly, they were all insignificant. And if I haven’t given them up, there would have been very little to look forward as little rewards once the debt repayment end.