When I first started this blog I did it with the purpose of calling myself out so I could start figuring out this whole “adulthood” thing. Since then I’ve prided myself on being transparent – like sharing my income, net worth, and publicly admitting that I’d been through a break-up.
In 2014, I had to call myself out again.
For the first time ever, I was in debt.
It was debt accrued from unexpected dental expenses. I had a couple of dental surprises pop up and needed to get a procedure not covered by insurance (surprise surprise) which then led to another procedure.
Long story short I had to get a layer of my back gums on the lower jaw removed or risk serious inflammation or worse, an infection that could quickly spread to the rest of my body. While I had an emergency fund for these occasions, it wasn’t enough to cover the full cost.
So I had to slap the remainder on a credit card and I was in debt to the tune of about $2,000. My very loud financially focused fear based ego was flipping out. Stories about how I’m a financial failure have already crept in mixed with a little bit of imposter syndrome. How could I be a money blogger if I’m in debt?
And then I remembered something important. Teachers are always students. In fact, some of the best teachers are those who had to learn something for themselves.
So instead of throwing myself a pity party or complaining about how a first world country can’t figure out how to make health and dental care more affordable, I’m going to share with how I paid off my debt after an emergency.
If you find yourself in a similar situation I hope you find this helpful. By the way, these tips also apply if you’re in debt over something not related to an emergency.
Look at the bright side and release the guilt.
I’m a silver lining kind of gal and I fervently believe everything works toward our greatest good. So what’s the bright side here? I live in a country where credit is available in the face of an emergency.
Furthermore, I live in a country where I am able to get necessary treatment period. Not everyone is so lucky.
If you are giving yourself a hard time over any debt you accrued let it go. Forgive yourself and be thankful for what that credit was able to get you. In my case it was dental treatment, in your case, it could be your rent or an awesome experience.
This is a lot more empowering and motivating than crying about it. (Though if you really do need to cry please do. I certainly did.) Getting out of debt after an emergency is what you make of it. So push through and realize that it’s not the end of the world.
Look for ways to make extra money.
The beauty of being self-employed is that you can always make more money. No one has to approve you for a raise. So come up with your next offering, brush up on your sales chops or pick up some extra clients.
This still applies if you have a regular job. Maybe there’s a skill you can charge for on the side. You could take up baby sitting or dog walking. There’s always the option to sell some of your used stuff online. You could also make money online freelance writing, using affiliate links on your blog, or even using social media.
The point is there are always opportunities to make more money.
“Money For Me” To Pay Off Debt After An Emergency
A “Money for Me” account is a concept by Kate Northrup. Essentially, every time you save money or resist the urge to spend you put that money into a savings account called “Money for Me.” At the end of the month, you can use that money however you wish.
So for example, the other day I got $10 off my CVS purchases thanks to coupons. I put those $10 in my “Money for Me” account and I can now choose to use it toward paying my debt after an emergency.
Essentially this makes the idea of “saving money” and “cutting back” way more fun. So fun that it almost becomes a game to see how much you can save to put into your “Money for Me” account.
Don’t Neglect Your Emergency Fund From Now On
I’m going to call myself out here and publicly admit that I’d gotten lazy about saving for emergencies. I fell into the “I’m running a business and I have variable income, so I can’t save as much” mentality (which by the way is completely false).
I knew I needed to prioritize my emergency savings and did my best to beef up the account. My goal was to have $5,000 in the account by the end of the following year, and I met that goal with ease.