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A hustler's mentality: How I paid off $5,000 of debt in 5 months

“H.U.S.T.L.E.R.: How you survive this life everyday resourcefully” - Urban dictionary

So the goal was to be out of credit card debt by April 2020, but this damn virus has prolonged my plans. On the bright side though I’ve paid off $5000 in credit card debt within the last 5 months. Whew chile, God is good and my desire to master the art of financial discipline has come a long way. Let’s get into my journey to financial freedom.

On Sept. 12th one of my closest friends came to visit me and we were talking about our financial situations including the amount of debt we’ve accumulated from student loans to credit cards. We came up with this crazy plan to find a side hustle, live the minimalist life, and paid off these credit cards by the time we turn 25 which is July & August of 2020. That same day I applied for five jobs and by the end of Sept. I had secured a part time job. My first day was October 3rd and I’ve been busting my ass ever since.

Nearly two months later on November 29, 2019, I paid off my Victoria Secret credit card. Yayyyy, now one of my four credit cards is gone. After thanksgiving I really started working like a slave lol. That holiday tip money was everything, people were truly in the giving spirit and instead of spending my Christmas money on me I made a credit card payment (adult moves lol). By the end of January 2020 I paid off my JCPenny’s credit card meaning my washer and dryer were paid in full (hit the woah lol).

Now it's February which is when shit got real. Feb. 4th I missed work due to an incident at my main job and Feb.10th which is the day after a money making weekend where I made $240 from working that Friday & Sunday (ballin’ lol)..., my damn car got towed for a stupid ass reason and I had to pay $300 to get my whip back. That money was supposed to be a credit card payment and part of my spending money for Cancun..fuck. So I picked up two shifts at work and spent the next four days making back the money I lost plus some. I went on this trip to Cancun which was lit as fuck by the way and unfortunately, I came back to a bunch of bullshit from my main job. The week of Feb 24th- Feb. 29th was hell. I had to fire a person for no call no show which led to me having to find staff to cover those shifts and two staff members called out from their shifts that same week and since it was my on call week I had to work and I couldn’t go to my part time job. I cried so much that week and felt like giving up but thanks to my momma and God I pushed through the bullshit as usual.

Now it’s March 2020 and it was time to get my mind back right. At this point I’ve been making numerous payments on my Wells Fargo credit card and despite the BS in Feb. I managed to paid down over $900 within the last month (twerk something girl lol). I’m back winning again and after filing my taxes I used my refund to pay down on my Credit Union credit card. I also paid off one of my medical bills too.

Life was going good for the first time in a long time. Every since July 2017, these damn 20’s has been full of tears and made me wonder what the fuck am I doing with my life. For once I’m making great money, I’m not financially stressed, my boo thang is showing me much love, and I had a successful book signing in Virginia.

The high I was on came to a halt on March 17th when all restaurants were shut down to just takeout. No more tip money. No more working 70-80 hours a week. No more running around like a chicken with my head cut off. The weekend of March 20th-22nd was my first weekend home without having to work either job or traveling out of town. I was bored and sad to say the least but I spent that week regrouping, reflecting over the last 5 months, and calculating how much debt I’ve actually paid off from Oct. 2019 to then.

I added up $5000 which didn't feel like a big deal but my momma got me together and remind me of the progress I’ve made which was still a reason to be celebrate and clap for myself. Now I have five more months to meet my deadline which is being completely out of credit card debt by August 2020. I’m so close to finishing this goal and if I trust God and stick to my revised plan I’ll meet my deadline.

On a serious note credit card debt is real and I’m telling you to get a handle on it before it handles you.

Here’s five things to keep in mind:

  1. Look at APR rates. The higher the APR rate the more interest you’re paying. Thankfully two of my credit cards were interest free for the first few years as long as I paid the balance off in full by the interest free deadline.

  2. Keep your credit usage at 30%. Although you get approved for a certain amount only use 30% of it. For example my Victoria Secret credit limit is $1200 and following the 30% rule I shouldn’t have a balance over $360. Using more than 30% of the limit negatively impacts your credit score. In my opinion it’s dumb that they’ll approve you for an certain amount but penalize you if you use more than 30% but it is what is it.

  3. Pay more than the minimum payment. Paying more will help you pay less in interest, you’ll also pay off the balance sooner, and you can raise your credit score if you make more than one payment in a billing cycle.

  4. Don’t bite off more than you can chew hence why most banks and credit card companies follow the debt to income ratio rule. Just because they’ll approve you for a certain amount doesn’t mean you should take on that financial responsibility. This is exactly how I accumulated so much debt and it’s crazy how I’ve been paying $300 in credit card debt every month since Sept. 2017 umph never again.

  5. Use credit cards correctly. Having a credit card isn’t a bad thing as long as you know how to discipline yourself. Credit cards are supposed to be used for an emergency or financing something you can pay off with a payment plan such as furniture. I remember times where I would charge $250 on my Victoria Secret card just because I wanted it knowing damn well I had more than enough suits and panties from PINK.

To conclude I made other small changes along the way too. I monitored how much money I was spending on eating out and I stopped eating such expensive meals or ate at restaurants like Applebee’s who has appetizers that are half off after 9pm, and an alcoholic drink of the month for $1. I stopped splurging on my nails, I went from spending $70 to $40. I traded in going out for picking up some weekend shifts. I stopped going to the mall and only shopping online when there’s a sale. Shoutout to FashionNova for always having 30% or more off and Afterpay or Quadpay for four easy interest free payments.

My journey to financial freedom is far from over since I still have student loan debt to tackle but I’ve learned some great financial and personal lessons along the way. It's never too late to take control of your finances and learn financial literacy. I hope my friends understand why I was always MIA and I know my mom now understands why I wasn’t in the mood to talk some nights. This slight victory has shown me that discipline and time can be a game changer.

"All progress takes place outside the comfort zone."

- Michael John Bobak

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