There are so many real life debt stories, but I want to tell you mine. It is pretty sad, frustrating but a very true story about myself. This year, I found myself in debt.
I owed a small, but impactful sum to the bank for overspending on my credit cards.
For the first time in the last five years of owning a credit card, I lost control of my monthly savings and expenditure.
What happened? Like in all real life debt stories, I let my emotions get the better of me. I got registered (for marriage), impulsively bought a house without being able to financially afford it, I was planning a wedding… and I ended up in debt.
How did it even get to this point?
The worst of it happened in September. I got into a hit and run accident.
I managed to catch up with the guy who had grazed the side of my car to confront him for his actions.
He got out of his car, inspected mine, got into a heated argument with me without so much as an apology. Then he did the unthinkable.
He started punching me. He punched my face multiple times and left me bruised and in tears as he sped off.
Witnesses at the side of the road came running to my defence when they heard of the commotion. We managed to get his car number plate.
I made a police report. The police told me to drop it. It wasn’t worth it, they said.
I insisted on making the report anyway. After a week of investigations, the officer in charge called me and all he asked me was, “Miss, did you hit the guy back?”
I answered truthfully, “Yes, sir. It was self-defense.” The case was promptly dropped and I never heard from the police again.
I let myself wallow for days… weeks, even. My mental health declined.
Real life debt stories: The aftermath
I started gaining weight as I ate away the depression I had felt from the trauma of my accident. Just like the start of most real life debt stories, I started splurging on unnecessary material things. It helped me feel better.
I gained so much weight, my knees (which already had an existing patella tracking problem) started to give away. Walking up the stairs became a chore. The pain became unbearable.
My credit card statement grew longer and the number I owed got scarier. I couldn’t admit this to my new husband.
Nor could I admit this to my mother – she was under the impression I had my life under control. I couldn’t talk to anyone.
This left me with insomnia from over worrying every night.
One day, in early November, I embarked on a total change of lifestyle.
I managed to turn my finances around thanks to some VERY careful money management tips I learnt from the Asian Money Guide. Firstly I used the bulk of my month’s salary to pay off my credit card debt so the interest would not continue to accumulate.
Then I spent the rest of the month at home and living as frugally as I could.
In December, I told everyone not to expect a Christmas present from me this year – I hoped they would understand even though I couldn’t tell them the reason why.
I started eating healthier (and somehow managed to save money in the process too). I also started utilising the free gym membership that comes with my co-working office space (thanks, boss!).
While I may be starting from ground zero again, especially with savings and investment. But isn’t a blank canvas the perfect way to form good habits and kill the bad ones?
It is my personal goal for next year not to:
- Get into debt.
- Overspend on my credit card.
- Forget to prioritize what is a need and what is a want.
- Let ANYONE take away control of MY life ever again.
It is also the year I have told myself I need to start taking on a more active role in investing my money.
All this while, as a 26 year-old woman, I have spent a lot of time investing in my career. I will admit, I have achieved a fair amount of growth in that field.
But as far as everything else in my life goes, there is still so much to learn and develop.
So ladies, from one to another, let me just say, no matter what has happened this year to make you lose hope, there is a way out. Yes, real life debt stories are scary but you can always find a solution to the problem.
Whether it was a bad relationship or falling victim to a scam or losing control of your finances the way I had, you can turn your life around.
Start educating yourselves on investing. Start small. We’re not asking you to go out and buy a Bitcoin or try your beginner’s luck at sophisticated trading.
It can be as simple as just starting out an additional channel for you to build up your retirement savings or getting the right insurance plan for your life stage.
I now realize that with the support of a trusty sidekick, like the Asian Money Guide, investing and adopting new habits shouldn’t be too scary after all.
Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore
READ: Life-changing New Year’s resolutions that can benefit your family