Although my About OMG My Money page has details on my personal finance journey, I think hearing the money moron moments directly provides another layer of OMG-ness. In this episode I share my embarrassing personal finance disasters, how I became debt free, and how podcasting saved my financial life.
Why Start OMG My Money
I created OMG My Money in 2018. This was not the first website I created, but it was the first website I created with a specific goal in mind. One of my main goals was to hold myself accountable as I began to aggressively tackle my nearly $77,000 student loan debt. The site was my way of journaling my debt free journey and to bring some inspiration to others. I always read about how if you write down your goal, you are more likely to achieve it. At that point, I had nothing to lose so I shared my debt payoff date goal. The great news is that I ended up achieving my goal and I became debt free paying off my massive student loan debt.
My Money Moron Moments In and Right After College
Now let’s rewind a bit to my college years and go through that period because this is where my first money moron moment happened and just kept getting worse.
I went to an out of state Big 10 school and I funded my education with student loans. During college, I did not work at all. It was also around that time that the sports cards bug hit me again after years away from the hobby. So…if I had an excess amount of funds available from my loans, I started to buy cards.
After graduating I got a full time job at a huge company, but of course now I have a massive student loan debt to pay back. Like many new graduates who start making money, I thought I had it made. Of course, I spent it all. I lived paycheck to paycheck. Unfortunately this is where my financial decline starts to happen.
2 Major Financial Mistakes That Start My Financial Demise In My 20’s
- I put my student loan debt into forbearance, which is when you are allowed to temporarily stop making payments; however, interest in my case would still accrue. Either way you look at it, putting this debt into forbearance for months at a time was a terrible decision because I had the money to pay my monthly debt payment except I decided to use everything I earned on…stuff.
- Because I was living paycheck to paycheck despite earning a very livable salary, I never invested in my company’s 401k match. I did not understand or even bother to learn about investing or retirement accounts let alone budgeting and saving money. As a result, I said screw it, I told myself I earned my money, I am going to spend it. This went on for a minimum 5 years. That means I did not contribute to my retirement accounts even the company match and I did not pay back my student loan debt during this time.
The realities started to hit me because there was no way I could pay back my student loan debt. Instead of educating myself about the topics I previously ignored such as saving, budgeting, and investing, I was overwhelmed. I mean how could I possibly pay this seemingly unreal monthly payment to start paying off my massive student loan debt. Every single piece of email that came to me related to student loans were immediately put in the trash. Every single call I received were ignored. Out of sight out of mind right?
What Happened To Me When I Continued To Ignore My Student Loan Debt
I started to get collection calls and as I ignored those calls, my debt starts to get sold to other collection agencies and eventually the debt goes into default. This might be the worst thing that can happen to your credit. Here is what I personally experienced:
- My credit score plummeted to under 500 because I got dinged every month for missing payments…for years
- Defaulting means late payment fees and penalties. I do not know what these amounted to, but I know these were added on to my debt.
- Some of the credit card issuers either lowered my credit line to nearly nothing or in most cases closed my account
- If I wanted to get a loan such as an auto loan, I would have to compromise and either put a hefty down payment or have an extremely high interest rate. I did the latter.
Recapping My Money Moron Moments. Cringe
- I funded 100% of my out of state college education with student loans
- I got overwhelmed with all the debt I accumulated after graduating
- I lived paycheck to paycheck despite a decent salary
- I ended up defaulting on my loans
- I did not invest a dime into a retirement account for at least 5 years despite a generous company matching policy
The Wage Garnishment Scare….It Got Me to Start Paying Back
So now fast forwarding a few more years out of my 20’s, I received this letter and it was unlike any other. After years of ignoring and trashing collection letters, this one particular envelope made me wanna open it.
It turns out it was the government sending a letter threatening me with wage garnishment. The first thing I did was go on Google. I mean was this for real and it turns out, it is very real. I started thinking about what happens if my wages are garnished and my company HR gets wind of this, will I get fired, will I get called out? All these scenarios were going through my head and this was literally the moment I started to get more serious about at least making my monthly payments.
I signed up with a loan service provider and my monthly payment ended up being a little less than $900 a month. Thinking about paying off my student loans until my 40’s deflated me.
How Podcasts Saved My Financial Life
I went through the motion of paying that monthly payment for I think a couple years until one day in 2018, which is when I started omgmymoney.com, I randomly decided to fire up the podcast app on my phone. It was really random. Before that year, I had never bothered to hit that podcast app on my phone. Thank goodness I did because ever since then, I have been listening to literally hours of podcast episodes every single day. Listening to podcasts is my ambiance.
I started to search for podcasts on personal finance and then started to find podcasts around side hustling and financial independence. I created a list of my favorite and best personal finance podcasts.
The first podcast I started listening to was the Dave Ramsey show. I no longer listen to that podcast because since being debt free, I felt like I needed to graduate from that podcast. That said that podcast is what got me motivated and what got me to where I am. As I was listening to hours and hours of that podcast, I got attracted to the section of each episode in which everyday people shared a debt free scream. These screams were incredibly motivating especially hearing so many of these debt free screams from those who were making a lot less than I was and was paying off their debt some who had 6 figures worth much more quickly that I was.
This was so motivating that from that point forward I continued to listen to hours of podcast episodes of personal finance and side hustling every single day and I started omgmymoney.com with my main goal to share my debt free journey and become debt free.
Fast forward to today after more than 10 years working my way back from all the money moron moments I had, I am debt free paying off my massive $77,000 student loan debt, fully funding my allowable retirement accounts, funding taxable accounts, fully loaded on my emergency fund, continuing to build up what I call an opportunity fund, which includes a real estate fund, and just being 100 times smarter with my money.
My Current Job And Why I Like My Full Time Job
Currently, I work full time as Vice President of Digital Marketing at a very large company and I am enjoying my work for 3 reasons
- I get to work in a field I am very passionate about
- I get to continue learning and expanding my existing knowledge set because digital marketing is ever evolving
- As a marketing executive, I can continue to grow as a leader and inspire others
The Side Hustles and How I Work To Make Extra Money
I am always looking to learn and make extra money through various side hustles. I am constantly trying new ventures and figuring out which ones are worth pursuing and which ones I am not enjoying as much. I typically learn by doing, but over the past year, I have really tried to take the next step and not waited for perfection to happen. If it means I lose a few hundred dollars or several hours of my life, so be it. Now I know better because I took that step. It is scary, but repetition is helping me overcome that fear. The side hustles I currently have and are pursuing include real estate specifically shifting from fix and flips to rentals with my desired sweet spot being single family residences in the suburbs, buying and selling items primarily sports cards but clothing as well, and consulting in digital marketing and credit card marketing because of my financial services background.
If you do not mind supporting the podcast, please share this podcast with your network, rate the podcast, review, and subscribe. This helps more than you know.
Lastly, if you have any inspiring quotes that you love, please share them with me and I will read them in the upcoming episodes. If you ever have any questions, please reach out to me. I will respond every time. This show is about you and I would love to see this community grow. Let’s learn, improve, inspire and collaborate.