Moving to Australia was a fantastic idea. It was devastating when I figured out I couldn't afford to move.
My financial history was terrible. A credit score between the low 600s or high 500s. I was always angry, fearful, and anxious:
- The anger from piles of credit card bills that were past due
- The fear of receiving an overdraft letter from the bank
- The anxiety of living paycheck to paycheck
If fear, anger, and anxiety weren’t enough, my attitude of “you only live once” was rampant. I didn’t mind partying, shopping or eating at whatever 24-hour diner or taco stand for 'after the party.' All the while my bank account was zero or near zero. No one should have to get an overdraft fee for spending $2.50 at Alberto's taco stand.
But the opportunity to move to a new country motivated me to get my finances back into shape.
Here is how I paid off $20,000 in debt and saved $10,000 to move to Australia.
HOW TO SAVE MONEY AND MOVE ABROAD
Goal setting is about uncovering barriers. Before deciding to move abroad, I had made attempts to pay off debts but always failed.
Why did my budgeting attempts fail?
After asking myself a series of questions, I was able to pinpoint the moment and reasons for my financial destruction.
Over ten years ago, on my way to the bank, I was held at gunpoint. At this moment, we were surrounded by people, but these innocent people didn't do anything to help me, this is called bystander effect.
Thank goodness no one was physically hurt. But it did change the way I thought about myself. Not understanding bystander effect, I believed since no one came to my rescue, I wasn't worth saving. I was worthless.
If I am worthless, why not have as much fun as I could? I was at least worthy of fun and useless things, right?
My mentality switched and out went any form of responsibility or financial obligation.
"Bartender another round of patrón, please!"
Flipping the switch
The opportunity to move abroad was my motivation to let go of all that BS I fed myself. In working with a therapist and finding gratitude in all moments of the day, I regained my worth and confidence.
It was time to get real with myself and my money mindset.
THE FINANCIAL ACTION PLAN TO SAVE CASH AND MOVE OVERSEAS
Getting real with finances. I joined mint.com and linked every bank account that I had available.
Staying balanced. Every day, multiple times I day, I checked my balances using the app. Mint's accessibility, provided that necessary reality check when I could have caused some severe credit damage. I.e., if I was out shopping with friends, I had the sanity to check my phone and put the clothes back on the rack.
Find money motivation. The Suze Orman Show was my money motivator. I loved the segment, “Can You Afford It?” Someone would call her and ask if they could buy something expensive. After delving into their financial history and assets, Suze would deny or approve their purchase.
Kids would call into the segment too. Suze would let them knew if they invested their birthday money they could have a more substantial sum in 25 years. A majority of these kids decided to save, per her advice! If these kids could do it, I sure as hell could too!
Knowing My Spending habits. Mint categorizes all transactions to get an overview of spending. On average, I spent over $1000 a month on night outs, another $750 on restaurants/eating out, and too much on wasted groceries. It was eye-opening to know how much money I lost.
Making a budget. Using the zero budget method, I revolutionized my spending. Starting with net income, I subtracted all the bills I had over that two week paycheck period. Using Mint, I then deducted average costs for food, gas, toiletries and any other expenses. Once that was complete, I reviewed if there were any extra expenses I could cut like cable, Netflix, and eating out.
Prioritizing debts. In the past, my debt was high, but I still had a decent amount of money in my savings account. The credit cards had a high-interest rate so; I was losing money monthly. I realized this wasn't the right approach, so I used my savings to pay off the credit cards.
Once I paid my credit card, I started contributing to my savings again.
Note: Always keep $1k in savings just for emergencies!
The lessons I learned
Unveiling and dealing with the traumatic experience resulted in massive changes to the way I lived. I realized many lessons that I still live by today.
Avoidance is lonely. Going out, drinking, and buying frivolously only made matters worse.
Letting go is empowerment. Removing all of the negative feelings about my self-worth and the robbery grew my confidence.
Worth is not defined by what you do or own. Before it was so easy to make a purchase just because I wanted a new jacket. YOLO! But questioning every purchase meant I had to set boundaries between real needs and wants. At first, it was a battle because in my mind everything was a necessity. However, over time, I saw the value and worth of my hard earned money.
Gratitude is a blessing. Taking a moment to be thankful for everyone, and waking up to live another day altered my need for going out and drinking.
The outcome of honesty and budgeting
In 10 months, I paid off $20,000 off and saved $10,000 more!
If you think you can't do something you want to do, you are wrong. Figure out what's holding you back from being empowered. Ask the hard questions, deal with any barriers, and make a plan of action.
What's holding you back from your next big adventure and how will you overcome it? Will we use any of the tactics described above?
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