“I want to hear from you about the number one story or event that made the most dramatic impact on your life financially. What was it that you’re so thankful to have experienced?”
I got some amazing and uplifting stories and felt that I had to share them here. Each of the readers have given me their permission to share their story. Here’s Lacey’s story….
About 3 years ago, I lost my car. It was not stolen although that is what I told several people due to embarrassment. Nope, it was repossessed.
I was about 3 months behind on my car payment but I usually fall behind trying to cover rent, groceries, daycare, etc as a divorced mom so it was no big deal to me. Well, it probably would not have been if the company I owed was not AIG who, come to find out, was in dire need of cash as the economy started to visibly tank in 2008.
Crashing Around Me
My world crashed because, up until this time, I depended on my car heavily. What was I to do without a car?! With a car loan still on my credit report showing “Unpaid” and “Delinquent”, no car dealership wanted to give me another car, no buy-here pay-here could offer me what may have been a decent interest rate, and I had zero money saved to buy a car outright much less come up with a good down payment. I was screwed! Emergency fund? I’d never heard of such a thing. I was trying to keep my head above water so where was this excess cash to store away for a rainy day going to come from?? That was 3 years ago…
That situation changed my life financially because I had to lean and depend on the awesome public transportation system of my city (Chicago) which I honestly was not taking advantage of.
First, I bought a monthly pass to ride the bus and train which was far cheaper than my car payment even before I added insurance and maintenance costs. Work? 5 mins from my apartment is a Metra station that takes me directly to and from work and, amazingly enough, everyone takes public transportation in some fashion to get around the city so I was not alone!
Second, I had to deal with the embarrassment and ask myself why what others thought of my car-less situation bothered me. Why did owning a car seem to signify something that it did not? It took some time and 3 yrs later I still get the shocking reaction when I tell certain people I do not and have not owned a car in 3 yrs but I’m clear on my main goal and that is financial stability – not freedom just yet.
After my car was repossessed, I reorganized my finances, cut what costs I could and/or downgraded others to the bare minimum, if possible. My $350 monthly payment which would have gone to my car was instead used to pay down other bills I had fallen behind on and start my very first emergency fund.
Checkpoints of Success
Today, I have a $12k emergency fund, I am contributing to my sad (thanks economy) but existent Roth 401k, I am putting myself through graduate school (with the help of my company’s tuition reimbursement program), and I now spend on things I know are “needs” instead of allowing others to determine that for me.
There truly is humiliation in financial despair but, looking back, if I had never lost my car, I’d still be in this downward spiral of financial destruction instead of experiencing the stability I now have. I am still car-less in Chicago with 2 kids but mom can pay the bills on time, keep more than enough food on the table, provide for all of our needs, and still put some away into savings – mom is doing awesome!
How about you? What’s your success story?