Credit card fasting, bad money beliefs, and finding true financial freedom
I truly believe that women should be financially independent from their men. And let’s face it, money gives men the power to run the show. It gives men the power to define value. They define what’s sexy. And men define what’s feminine. It's ridiculous.
- Grammy Award-Winning Superstar, Beyoncé
Carla looked at her credit card balance in horror. She had some unexpected expenses in the past few months, along with her daughter's birthday party, Christmas, and a few too many trips to Target to cure the winter blues. "I'd been avoiding it because I knew it was bad, but I didn't realize how bad it got," she said, her head cast down in shame and shock. Carla knew she needed to make some changes to her financial health. So she took a step-by-step approach .
Confronting Bad Money Beliefs
Before Carla did anything about her dire financial situation, she did some inner examination. What beliefs were causing her to overspend and live outside her means? Why didn't she save money for emergencies and unexpected expenses? After some soul-searching, Carla realized that she grew up learning how to overspend from her father. Every time he got his paycheck, he immediately spent it. He bought used cars he didn't need to satisfy his amateur mechanic hobby. "I can't take it with me when I'm gone," he used to say about saving. Impressionable young Carla unknowingly adopted these unhealthy money beliefs and habits from her dad. Once she challenged these beliefs, she replaced them with healthy ideas about money. For instance, she changed "What's the point of saving," to "I am happy to save enough to make sure I'm taken care of in all situations." Invigorated, she made a financial plan.
Credit Card Fasting
Carla jumped over to Canva to grab a budget template she could easily print out. Then she got honest with herself about her spending. She wrote down her income, all of her credit card debt, and her expenses. Then she went on a credit card fast. She made a note of the places she could reduce her spending, such as unnecessary or spontaneous purchases. Carla set a goal to pay off her debt in one year, which meant a strict budget. She figured out the monthly amount she would need to pay off her credit cards in twelve months and wrote it down where she could see it every month. Nerd Wallet has a helpful guide for how to pay off credit cards fast. She took her credit cards out of her wallet and stashed them in a drawer with a picture of the house she wants to buy on the front. Every time she wanted to use her credit card, she had to look at the house of her dreams and decide if the purchase, the one that would put her further away from that dream house, was worth it.
Next, Carla got to work learning how to start a side hustle. She became a virtual assistant at night and on weekends and brought in an extra $1,000 per month to help her pay off her debt. (Millenial Money Man has a great list of side hustles). Instead of going out to eat with her friends, she got home early and clocked in a few hours. She not only saved the money she would have spent eating out, but she also made extra money. Important note: working around the clock is not sustainable and can take a toll on our health. Carla made sure to take breaks to rest and she saw friends for activities that didn't cost money, such as hiking.
It's not possible to avoid shopping completely, so Carla learned her financial triggers and avoided those triggers as much as possible. Instead of going to Target for groceries, she hit up her local farmers market and grocery store. She made a list before going shopping and stuck to it. In the rare instances that she needed something that only Target carried, she used Instacart so she wouldn't have to fight the urge to buy things when walking down the aisles, the $10 fee was worth it so she could avoid a $400 bill at checkout.
After Carla paid off her debt, she reallocated a portion of the money she'd been using on credit card payments over to a savings account. She labeled her account "Emergencies Only," so she wouldn't be tempted to tap into it. When her car needed a new battery, she used her savings instead of racking up credit card debt. She only used her credit cards if she knew she was able to pay off the balance at the end of the payment cycle.
Investments and Retirement
The rest of the money she had allocated toward paying off her debt, she diverted to a Roth IRA and started contributing every month. Since the money is tax-free, she not only set herself up for a brighter future, but she also reduced her tax liability each year.
Acorns offers a user-friendly platform to help first-time investors get started. By the end of Carla's second year of her financial freedom plan, she had zero credit card debt, a healthy savings account, and a growing retirement account. That's enough to make anybody proud, even Beyoncé.
We spend so much time beautifying our faces, bodies, and homes. It's time to beautify our budgets so we can lead truly beautiful lives. It all starts with confronting our money beliefs, creating a spending plan, budgeting, paying off debt, and investing in our futures. Nothing is more beautiful than a financially free and empowered woman.
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