Are you there, debt relief? It’s me, Jordan.

I vividly remember sitting in a class senior year of high school and a woman came to talk to us about college and student loans. She was so nonchalant about taking on debt, comparing it to how no one scoffs at taking out a home loan. This was laughably before the housing market crash, but these are statements I will never get out of my ears.

I barely knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, still full of raging teenage hormones, but was somehow “responsible” enough to sign for six figures worth of student loan debt. This toxic industry was only reinforced by my parents outdated notion that since they paid their way through school, I should be able to as well. To clarify, I don’t think paying your own way through college is wrong or you should expect your parents to foot the bill, but my circumstances and my parents were incredibly different. Their statements only reinforced taking out loans in my mind. My college, which was also my parents’ alma mater, was only a few thousand a semester during their college years. When I was accepted it was a steep $40K a year and I received very limited financial assistance.

While no one was forcing me to sign on the dotted line, media had fed me idealistic images of beautiful college campuses and that this was the path you took if you were smart. I know this story is far from unique. I luckily had a great experience that I think of fondly and built a great network that got me a job right out of school.

When I graduated, I was overwhelmed by the debt. I was only making about $32K a year, and every step forward I took with raises I couldn’t help but have lifestyle creep. There are days I often reminisce about how I made my life work with considerably less. I became so desensitized to seeing a high number on my outstanding loan amount on my bank statement that I developed an unhealthy relationship with money.

A few years ago, I got a job that didn’t have corporate cards. It was the first time I took out a credit card. In my mind, I knew that I needed to only put work expenses on that card, but easier said than done. Because of my massive amount of debt, I had very little saved up for emergencies. Someone broke into my car and I needed my window fixed, that blue piece of plastic got swiped. I unexpectedly got the flu and had to go to urgent care, it got swiped. I was exhausted and was self soothing by shopping…well you see where this is going. I racked up a few more thousand dollars that I still chip away at.

There are days I still feel like a failure with money. I think about all the things I could have if I hadn’t taken out that credit card, or if I hadn’t gone to college. My mind swirls with the freedom my husband and I could experience if this debt didn’t exist. Now, I’m really working on being better with money, having a budget and cut back on frivolous spending.

We’re lucky that there are more people, especially women, talking about money (I personally love listening to Gaby Dunn or watching Aja Dang). When I feel really down on myself about money, I try to remind myself I’m not alone and so many of us were sold this bad deal. I know there will be an end eventually if I can just stay on track. In the meantime I will be working 60 hour weeks, freelancing and selling my clothes at Buffalo Exchange.

Are you there, debt relief? It’s me, Jordan.

Bougie on a budget

Ok I’ll be honest. I have a ton of student loan debts (like many of my peers) but I also have what my MIL likes to call “champagne taste on a beer budget.”

Personal style is really important to me. I went to a private school where I wore the same thing day in and day out. I feel most like myself when I can dress the way I want, which often comes with a high price tag.

Recently, I’ve begun to accept the fact that I really need to focus on spending better and spending less.

Spending better – only buying things that are 1) quality and will last longer. That cost per wear y’all. 2) make me feel good and no buyer’s remorse. I recently have begun swapping my beauty products for green & clean ones. 3) things that better myself, like my yoga studio.

Spending less – This is pretty self-explanatory but does ladder into spending better. If I buy better quality things and only things I truly love, I’ll buy fewer items. I also love a good coffee out, but that racks up quickly. I’m not going to ditch it all together, but just do it less.

Some things I’m doing to help me be better with money:

Podcast Bad with Money by Gaby Dunn – I recently discovered this from listening to another podcast called Glowing Up. What I appreciate about this Gaby’s refreshing take on “who was going to tell us this?” Meaning, who was supposed to tell us about 401ks or investments. It’s also super interesting from the perspective of the societal structures that keep the rich rich and poor, well, poor.

Investing/Saving – I’m a little ashamed to admit, I only just started a 401k about a year ago. Late is better than never I suppose. I’m also dipping my toe in investing with Ellevest. I don’t put in more than I’m willing to lose, because to be honest, much like Gaby  Dunn investing still mystifies me, but I know the investing gap is REAL.

Using services that help me save – when I do shop online, I’ve started to make sure I use ebates. It’s not a ton of money, but in the past two years, I’ve probably gotten a return of ~$100, which adds up! Also I make sure that I constantly use things like Hotels.com to get rewards. My husband I were recently able to get a hotel room for free on a last minute trip.

Shop used – I’ll admit sometimes this is hard. Because shiny new consumerism! However, things like Luxury Garage Sale and The Real Real is a great way to get something in a good condition at sometimes half the cost.

I’m really focusing on making a huge dent in my debt this year and to have financial freedom. What steps do you take to feeling in control of your finances?

Bougie on a budget