12 Women on How They Finally Got Their Financial Lives In Order

Wendy Robinson | Sep 16, 2016 Money
12 Women on How They Finally Got Their Financial Lives In Order

I've done a lot in life that I can be proud of: I have three college degrees, a challenging job that I love, and a great family. But if I'm being honest, the thing in life that I am most proud of is the fact that I managed to climb out of over $25,000 worth of credit card debt. 

I accrued the debt in college and those expensive years right after graduation, and it took me almost five years of hard work and scrimping to get debt free. I was more proud of myself the day that I sent that last payment into Citibank than I was the day I earned my college degree.

I've now been free of credit card debt for almost ten years (but let's not discuss my student loan situation!) and I still love hearing about how other people totally transformed their financial lives.

Read on for some real-life financial inspiration for women who got their money acts in order and learned some hard lessons along the way. 


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  • Living The Dream

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    "I was working in a corporate environment but I secretly yearned to be an artist. I was always stressed out and I used shopping as a therapy. I ended up in over $40K of debt between a car loan and credit cards. 

    I was working with a therapist and we figured out that I would never be happy if I never got to attempt to make it as an artist. Having this concrete goal (quitting my job) was the kick in the ass I needed to get real about my money. 

    It took five years to get out of debt and to build a cushion of savings. I'm painting every day now and I am so happy." -- Kaye L., Austin, Texas

  • Bankruptcy Bounce Back

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    "Following the global financial crisis in 2008, I experienced a complete financial loss, liquidation of my business, and personal bankruptcy. Burdened with over $200,000 of debt ), I was advised by an insolvency expert to liquidate my business and file for personal bankruptcy.

    It was the most difficult, painful period of my life.

    After a year of working through it with trusted counsels, I was able to clear it all up, start over and rebuild my life.

    I took full and complete ownership and personal responsibility for MY part in creating this situation -- and not simply blaming it on the economic crisis. I was able to identify where I took too many risks in my business, was overly reliant on credit cards and didn't manage my finances astutely.

    Now I have a monthly budget and pay off every credit card at the end of the month." -- Julie B., Denver, Colorado

  • Reality Check

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    "When my husband and I found out that our daughter was going to be born with Downs, it was the motivation we needed to get out of debt. We didn't know how serious her medical needs would be, or how much we'd need to save. 

    She is four now and is doing great but we still live frugally and are committed to staying out of debt so we can make sure she is always taken care of." -- Sandy B., San Diego, California

    More from CafeMom: 10 OMG Texts About Money Struggles That Are All Too Real (PHOTOS) 

  • House Dreams

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    "My husband and I both came from families that were just messy when it came to money. We didn't have good role-models, like AT ALL. 

    In the first few years of being married, we spend a lot and never had a budget. You know how this ends, right? Yep. We were in debt like crazy. Credit cards, student loans, car loans, and all that. 

    One night we had a Come-to-Jesus conversation and realized that we both really longed for to buy a home and have a kid but couldn't afford either. 

    Our path to home ownership wasn't glamorous. It was getting second jobs, not eating out, not buying each other gifts. But we did it. It is possible! We bought our house last spring and I am so happy." -- Carmen W., Minneapolis, Minnesota

  • Second Job

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    "Get a second job! And a third. Getting out of debt is just math. I had over $20,000 in debt and I make $35,000 in my regular job. It would have taken me forever to pay it off, if I hadn't worked other jobs. I busted my butt for three years working a second job. Totally worth it." -- Allie H., Cleveland, Ohio

    More from CafeMom: I Regret Spending So Much Money on My Wedding

  • Up My Earnings

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    "Okay, this sounds counter productive, but I went into more debt to get out of debt!

    I took on student loans so I could get my MBA, which would get me on the management track at work. I went to a state school, which kept it cheaper, but I still took out about $20K in student loans. Add that to my $17K in credit card debts and that sounds bad. But after I graduated I got a promotion and now make $12K more than I used to, so I can really attack my debt now." -- Laura R., Tucson, Arizona

  • Embrace Technology

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    "I got into debt and wrecked my credit because of being stupid. I was traveling a lot for my job and I just missed payment due dates all the time because I was still getting paper bills. The fees and stuff added up and I was drowning. 

    One day I was crying about it to my BFF and she was like 'Idiot, online bill pay and a budget' -- that is a paraphrase-- but she was totally right. Getting all my bills online or auto-pay totally helped." -- Brooke K., Saint Paul, Minnesota 

  • Drastic Measure

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    "I got out of debt by getting divorced. Seriously. My ex-husband is TERRIBLE with money and he wrecked my credit and got us in tons of debt. 

    We got divorced, split the debt, and I worked for 10 years to pay it off and to rebuild my credit. Hardest work ever, but he is bankrupt and living in a crappy studio apartment. Justice." -- Pam P., Tucson, Arizona 

  • Therapy Works

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    "People joke about it, but I actually am a shopping addict. Like, got myself in over $68,000 in credit card debt, mostly on clothes, shoes, and make-up. After I got caught stealing some money from petty cash at work, I got referred to HR who set me up with a therapist.

    We worked together for three years, getting to the root of my spending compulsion. I ended up having to declare bankruptcy and sold almost everything I owned and moved into a studio apartment with my baby (I'm a single mom) and slowly rebuilt my life. It was so hard, but I live on cash now and am debt free." -- Name withheld

  • Team Work

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    "So, my story is kind of embarrassing. I got into over $10,000 in credit card debt and didn't tell my husband about it. I was buying stuff and hiding it in the house or lying to him about how much stuff costs. 

    One day he saw a bill in my email when I left my computer turned on and confronted me about it. I thought we'd end up getting divorced over it, honestly. But he sat down and we went over everything and made a plan. 

    I got into debt on my own but we tackled it like a team." -- Name withheld

  • Bad Advice

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    "Shortly after getting married, my in-laws gave us some terrible advice -- if we were going to purchase something big, like furniture, a car, or a vacation, they said to put it on a credit card to build our credit. But instead of paying it off, we ended up $150,000 in debt! It was not uncommon to receive 10-15 calls a day from creditors.

    We listed our house for sale and moved into a small rental home. We began eating every meal at home (which saves a lot more money than you think!)! Before going to the grocery store, I would clip coupons. About six months after selling our house, we cut up every credit card we owned and started living on a cash-only basis.

    If we didn't have the money in our hand.....we didn't buy it! At times, it was really hard to live by that motto, but it has DEFINITELY paid off! -- Vicki S., Dodge City, Kansas

  • Green Shoots

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    "I had been a mortgage broker prior to facing my own financial cliff. My life was at a crossroads in 2007. "I was getting divorced after 11 years, moving out of a Los Angeles beach house I could not afford, was the plaintiff in a lawsuit, my favorite dog was dying. And to top it off, I had no job, and was $50,000 in debt. We had been overspending and under earning.

    Ironically, my life seemingly was falling apart but in reality when I look back, that self-sabotaging life was being taken away from me so my authentic life could begin.

    I was getting creditors on the telephone and threaten them with going bankruptcy unless they gave me a payment plan I could commit to every month. I even considered bankruptcy.

    It got better when I read books that helped me see that my financial situation wasn't really about money, it was deeper and about older childhood emotional scars. The hard part was letting go of the denial I had been living in, that took courage and patience. So, here I am nine years later and I am debt-free but more importantly, I have control over my finances." -- Pegi B., Los Angeles, California

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