“Ali” came to me a couple of years ago, because she was at a crossroads in her life. She was a teacher, who used to love her job, until she was transferred to a different school. The challenges of the new school, plus a big commute each day had led her to feeling a bit dissatisfied with her job and her life. She was also aware that she needed to start paying off debt, if she was to move forward.
She had been off work with a couple of periods of stress and was on the point of giving up teaching. However, she also recognised that not all the stress was work-related and was terrified that by giving up her income and her pension, she was actually going to increase her stress levels.
Trapped by debt
She knew that she had considerable debt on credit cards, but because she was able to make the minimum repayments each month, for years she had felt that this was under control. However, she realised that this was holding her back in life and she wanted to be paying off debt NOW. By giving up her teaching income, she knew that she was not going to be able to afford the monthly payments. Therefore she felt trapped in her job, because she needed the money to ensure that she could make her credit card payments each month.
A friend at work had been talking about one of my courses, and Ali decided that she would get in touch with me.
Support and encouragement
Ali joined a group course, because she felt that she would work better when there were other people completing the course alongside her.
Even during the introductions to the rest of the group, I could see some of Ali’s stress disappear. I could feel the relief in her words as she realised that some of the others in the group were in a similar position. The group had all been able to sign up anonymously, which had a great impact on how free they felt to share information about themselves and their finances.
Paying off debt
Ali was desperate to get stuck into working out how to begin paying off debt, because that was her main aim. However debt is only a tiny part of the jigsaw, so we start by looking at ourselves first. A major part of the beginning of the course is examining attitude to money and money mindset. It is often an emotional and hugely interesting part, as many women discover things about themselves that they have never known.
A major breakthrough for Ali was when she discovered that she had always felt “poor” as a child and often envied friends who seemed much better off than her. She thought that this might be why she now spoiled her own 4 children. Ali admitted that they only had to ask and they would get all that they wanted. She knew that this was a major reason for her credit card debt. Ali was really upset by this because, until this moment, she hadn’t even really realised that her children were spoilt. She immediately started feeling guilty for spoiling them, guilty for spending so much and for getting into debt and guilty that she was letting her husband down.
No time for guilt
I suggested that she needed stop beating herself up about it – what’s done was done and no amount of feeling guilty was going to change that. We re-focused on the future and what she DOES want to do, so that all her thoughts were positive. Forgiving yourself for any problems is a really important part of the coaching – we cannot possibly move forward if we spend time berating ourselves for all that has gone wrong. Through using strategies in the course, Ali was able to make peace with herself and move forward in a positive way.
We did a major makeover of Ali’s finances and after keeping receipts for a month, Ali could clearly see where she was wasting money. She was then surprised at how much extra she could then pay towards her debts, thereby significantly reducing the amount she owed each month. With a plan in place to be paying off debt in a little more than a year, Ali felt that she was regaining control of her situation. She could have paid even more towards her debts and got them cleared more quickly, but Ali wanted to start a savings plan for Florida. This was a great idea, because it meant that she could really see the dream beginning to form, as each month she put a little into her Fantastic Florida Fund!
Old and new
Another major part of the course involves clearing out the old to make room for the new. Although the course is about money the decluttering involves lots of areas such as emotions, attitudes, paperwork, clothes, the house and garden. Ali threw herself into this part of the course, because she had let the house get on top of her when she was off with stress and hadn’t really got back on track since then.
Ali was excited when she decided that she would employ someone to come and do a major clean of the house and that she would then employ a cleaner on a weekly basis. She knew that she was making savings in other areas, and felt that a cleaner would really remove a lot of her stress, and would be worth every penny. I love this! It’s great to see people looking at their priorities and deciding to spend their money on the things that make them happy.
The end result
By the end of the course, Ali had decided that she was going to continue to teach, at least until she had finished paying off debt. She was feeling much more prepared to face school, because she felt that she now had her home life in order. She had also chosen a couple of Florida villas and was emailing the owners direct to secure the best prices possible! I know that later in the year, when she and the family head off to the States, they will have an amazing time.
Without Ali taking the plunge and being brave enough to send me that first email, who knows where she would have been now.
Well done Ali – you are a blooming star!
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If you have debts that are worrying you, then this post might help you to learn how to pay off debt, without living on beans on toast for ever.
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