How I beat my addiction to debt…once and for all

To most people, I had it all. Great job, healthy disposable income, new outfit most weeks and a yearly overseas trip that made Instagram posting a sport. Sydney’s social life had me by her talons and I was loving every minute of it. Heck, I was single and in my early 20’s, who wouldn’t be? The only problem was, I was drowning in debt. And I don’t mean paddling around in it, I mean head under water, can’t breathe, scene out of The Godfather kind of drowning. It had consumed my life like a recurring nightmare and despite having flashes of an adult conscience, I just kept spending.

 

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Hi, my name is Bryanna, and I was addicted to a life beyond my means. I was addicted to debt.

 

Fast forward to today and I have been debt sober for 5 years, 10 months and 16 days.

 

When people ask about my debt sobriety and how it started, I always think about my lowest point, you know, the point I realized I was going to be on the street with all my pretty clothes if I didn’t make changes. It was March 2011 and I had just returned from a 4 week trip to the US. I had spent so much money, that I returned with 67 kilos of luggage. Not pounds, kilos. Like an addict looking for my next hit, I roamed the streets of Manhattan every day, weaving from shop to shop with a glazed look and two steaming credit cards. I bought $500 handbags I didn’t need, sequined ball gowns I would never wear and I can recall walking out of Sephora with an $800 receipt in my hand. At one point one of my cards was declined because I had reached its limit. Never mind, I’ll just increase it and deal with it later. Thanks Mr. Bank Man for your speedy limit increase.

 

debt devil

(Image: iStock)

 

Landing back in Sydney was more than sobering, it was downright confronting. The stuff panic attacks are made of. I didn’t have any cash and my credit cards – both of them – were maxed. I still had two weeks until pay day and 15 days until rent was due. As a 23 year old, I called my mum and lied – I told her the bank had frozen my accounts due to fraudulent activity and sheepishly asked if I could borrow some money. Any normal person would question this, but my poor mum, who doesn’t have money to go around, lent me a few hundred dollars to get my entitled, irresponsible ass to pay day. I was so embarrassed, and the guilt was overwhelming but that night, me and my lack of self control went out for cocktails, sporting a fresh wash and blow dry. Honestly, what the hell was wrong with me?

 

The truth is, I was on a dangerous spiral into a future addicted to debt and the only person I could blame was myself. I was 23. I knew I had to go cold turkey. I knew I had to get sober. And that’s exactly what I did.

 

I physically cut the crap out of my life – my two credit cards.

Chopped them up and threw them away. I needed the ceremonious burial so that I felt the emotional release of being credit card free. Let’s be honest, there’s an emotional element to all of this. I consolidated my debt, by transferring the outstanding balance of one card onto another. This allowed me to pay down one amount with one set of fees. I allocated 30-40% of my salary each month and rang the bank after each payment to decrease the limit on the card, further preventing any overspends!

 

I wrote down every expense.

From my car loan, beauty regime, groceries, pill prescriptions. Everything! And then, with a glass of wine as liquid courage, cut out more BS from my life. I didn’t need to get my eyebrows shaped every 6 weeks, or a bi-monthly mani-pedi. I didn’t need a new outfit every week and my waistline could certainly benefit from a home cooked balanced meal.

 

I opened an online (high interest) ING savings account.

And this was completely separate to my everyday bank account. I set up an automatic transfer of 10-20% of my salary into it each month and because it was separate I couldn’t automatically transfer money out for my spending pleasure. Out of sight, out of mind! And as you’ll learn ladies, compound interest is your friend!

 

debt devil

(Image: iStock)

 

In 5 years, 10 months and 16 days I have paid off both credit cards and my disgusting car loan. I have saved money each month since that day, invested in shares, bought a house (with a partner), paid for a wedding in cash and I’m 12 months away from buying our second investment property. I don’t have any credit card debt, car loans or personal loans….just one mortgage paying off an appreciating asset. And that right there, I’m pretty bloody proud of. If I can do it, anyone can. Trust me!

 

Fearless Female Traders

xx

2 responses to “How I beat my addiction to debt…once and for all

  1. From Briana››

    Bryanna, I just wanted to let you know that I literally NEVER write comments on blog posts… I think this is my first one.

    Amidst Googling on how to consolidate my credit cards (guilty. SO guilty!!), somehow I came across your blog.

    And I just wanted to say a HUGE THANK YOU – I am literally you a couple years ago. I have known for over a year that my ridiculous debt was out of control but nothing really hit home until I read this post.
    I am going overseas to the US next month (and now – am going to be so, so cautious to NOT come home with 67 kilos of luggage)…

    The moment I’m back, I am going to be implementing all of your tips above, and you have a new, loyal reader of FFF 🙂

    Anyway, there’s no point to this comment, I just wanted to say a big thank you – I am sure you probably don’t hear it enough 🙂 I love your blog and content is so relatable and so easy to understand.

    Have a lovely rest of the week!!!

    • From Bryanna McDermott››

      Briana! It must be a ‘Bree’ thing 😉 I’m so glad you came across FFT and girlfriend, let me tell you, you will be A-OK! I hope you enjoy your time in the US and come back refreshed. Can’t thank you enough for your message (I even showed my hubby, I was so happy!). Keep reading and feel free to drop me a line at anytime. More than happy to help xx

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