The Road to Financial Wellness 2.0

The following blog post is part of The Road to Financial Wellness blog tour. The Road to Financial Wellness is a three-month, grassroots campaign promoting financial empowerment on a national level and encourages people to pursue their dream lifestyle. Find out more about local events near you.


The Road to Financial Wellness

Over the last few months I have lived without any personal debt.  Over the previous 10 years of my life I have lived in debt.  It started with student loans to pay for college.  It moved on to a credit card to go on spring break or pay books or buy food.  It didn’t end there.  Instead of less debt it became more.  As my high school vehicle was limping to work at my grown up job, I made the decision to purchase a Mercedes Benz.  If I couldn’t make any more poor financial decisions, I left my job and moved across the country just a few short months later.  I had no job and 1 month worth of savings to live off of.  While living across the country I didn’t find full-time work for over a year.  I hustled my hardest just to make the minimum payments and as my credit card payment reached it’s limit, I realized I had failed.  That’s how my road to financial wellness all started with a failure.

I moved back to the Chicago area with a family member to get back on my feet.  I began working the second I stepped out of my Mercedes Benz and I knew things had to change.  I was able to get full-time work shortly after I arrived.  My family member showed me some tough love and kicked me out of my rent free arrangement.   I needed the tough love, I needed to be responsible, I needed to grow up a little.  I sold my Mercedes Benz and started down the road of eliminating over $100,000 in debt and where I stand today.

I wanted to share the details of where I was a few years ago.  Many of the stories you read in the big financial websites include a simple statement like “I paid off my student loans in 14 months”.  I know it sounds odd, but I need to see a bigger fail.  I need to see someone not have a job, buy an expensive car, move across country, move back home because he/she couldn’t make the minimum payments.  I need to see someone struggle to show they really won.

Financial Empowerment.  When I first came across these 2 words, they didn’t really mean much to me.  Over time they meant a little more.  It all started with a budget and knowing where my money was going.  That made me feel empowered.  Then I sold my car and next paid off my credit cards, which made me feel in control.  I was doing something with my money that I had never done before.  One of the biggest feelings of financial empowerment came about one year ago when I paid off my student loans.  I had over $60,000 in student loans and I paid off the last$46,500 in 2 years and 3 months.  I felt Financially Empowered.  I felt like everything that I did with my finances before this point had led up to this moment.  I paid off the last of my personal debt this past year, a loan to my parents.  It wasn’t the most conventional way to pay off the last of my personal debt, but I have come along way.

I have not always made the right choices with money.  My guess is that know one has made the right choice with money.  That’s why it’s so important to learn, live, and listen to everything you can get your hands on about money and financial wellness.  The places it can lead you to and the choices it can provide are endless.

The Road to Financial Wellness could be coming to your town, what a great way to start on your road to financial empowerment.

25 Responses to “The Road to Financial Wellness 2.0

  • Your journey is incredibly inspiring. I never had that moment that broke me and I knew I had to change. Instead, my story is boring in my eyes but stories like yours gives me motivation to work that much harder. Keep up the great work Steven!
    Thias @It Pays Dividends recently posted…Stop Bad Money Habits With a Money DetoxMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      5 months ago

      Thanks Thias, I don’t think anyone’s story is boring just different than others. I don’t think I was broken, but certainly damaged. I’m glad I can say that with a smile!

  • We all have different financial paths, some more bumpy than others, but as long as we eventually find the road to financial wellness we’ll be in good shape. I had to stop and ask for directions 🙂 but I’m glad I did.
    Brian @ debt discipline recently posted…How We Saved $2100 on our Summer VacationMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      5 months ago

      I know you paid off loads and loads of debt as well, so directions along the way are probably a good thing. I think I wandered around town for awhile trying to figure out where I was supposed to be going;)

  • I definitely hit the point of being maxed out, but I didn’t hit financial rock bottom. I’m kind of like you, though, in reading some of those stories — like, yeah, good for you, you made a bunch of perfect choices. Where’s the fun in that?? I think the stories with more hardship are definitely more interesting, and they require a lot more soul-searching, too, to overcome the bigger number of challenges. Either way, huge congrats on getting out of personal debt! That’s a huge achievement no matter what, but you have some interesting stories to go along with it!

    (Also, yay for no more page reload before commenting!!) 🙂
    Our Next Life recently posted…All the Secrets of Our Success // A CompendiumMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      5 months ago

      Haha made a bunch of perfect choices, yeah that’s boring 🙂 Thanks ONL on the congrats, we all have small victories along the way and that one certainly felt great. I’m going to pretend like I fixed something for the reload on the comments;)

  • Steven, I felt the same way for some time. ” I had over $60,000 in student loans and I paid off the last $46,500 in 2 years and 3 months.” That’s being empowered and understanding you have control. Thanks for being part of this mission and helping me empower others through your story.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      5 months ago

      Happy to do a small part for the cause. Hope to see you in Chicago!

  • Huge congratulations to you! I can’t even fathom the weight of that amount of debt; the fact that you’ve paid it off so quickly is a testament to your hard work and persistence. Very inspiring!
    Matt @ The Resume Gap recently posted…Why I Quit My Most Lucrative Side HustleMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      5 months ago

      Thanks Matt, I did my best and will continue to do so that’s all I can ask of myself:)

  • Man kuddos to you for writing this up. People need to hear the good, the bad and the ugly. Im glad to hear it all worked out and the light bulb came on. 🙂
    Alexander @ Cash Flow Diaries recently posted…May 2016 Net Worth UpdateMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      5 months ago

      Thanks Alex, yeah it took awhile but that light bulb was powerful!

  • I remember when I first started getting my student loan bills. I was making $40k/yr and they were close to $1200/month! Add in about $12k of credit card debt that was close to $300-$400/mo of payments and I realized something needed to change. I reconsolidated my loans and got that payment cut by 3/4 which helped and began working on paying of my cards, but I was still bad at money management so when one would get paid down, I’d see it as an empty card to fill up, not exactly to keep empty (slaps forehead).
    That was when I looked into going back to school like my original life plan was, because I “needed to make more” and that would fix it all… I got into school and added about $15k more in loans even though school was paid for and I got a stipend (slaps forehead again). And the card debt climbed to about $18k. It wasn’t until I met Mrs. SSC and started working a job out of grad school that I started feeling in control of money and not have it in control of me.
    Had I not met her, I shudder to think what kind of financial boondoggle I’d have myself in.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      5 months ago

      It amazes me what we do with money while we have no idea what’s going on financially. Buy a car, go back to school, and just toss it all on a loan. Lots of forehead slaps, lol.

  • You’re very right that probably no one has made all good money choices. While we were lucky in avoiding student debt (thanks UK education system) we managed to saddle ourselves with a mortgage that was too big for us at the time. Luckily we got away with it as our salaries increased, but isn’t that just the same a lifestyle inflation: growing into your mortgage?!
    What’s important is that we learn from our previous experiences and don’t report them!
    Mrs. PIE recently posted…Our Investment Portfolio Update (Q1, 2016)My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      5 months ago

      I think a lot of people don’t get away with lifestyle inflation especially as it relates to a home, which is literally the biggest purchase you and I will make in our lives. We sometimes live in Crazytown, just hope we can afford to stay there. I think the financial crisis kicked many out of Crazytown, hope they don’t come back.

  • We haven’t made 100% good money choices, but it did take me 4 years out of grad school to land full-time employment. Prior to that we literally scrapped by. I think those years served me well, in that my mindset had to be a frugal one and I never took my income for granted. Amazing story, and great job pulling yourself up!
    The Jolly Ledger recently posted…The Ledger – May 2016 Expense ReportMy Profile

  • I find it helpful when people share their failures. Especially the big ones. Thank you for this. We can all inspire one another with the truth of our lives.
    ZJ Thorne recently posted…Immediate Rewards are Rare in Finance and ActivismMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      5 months ago

      Agreed ZJ, reading about others can be inspiring.

  • Kudos for the steps you made to overcome some initial poor decisions!
    Like Mrs PIE says, we all made some stupid decisions in our life. What matters is the next step you take and what you learn from it.

  • I think my financial wellness has only come in the past couple of years. I still feel, in some respects, like I am bumping along the bottom. It is a hard balance between wanting to “live” my life, but becoming financially fit. I want to do both, but it just seems so daunting the fit part and the “living” is easier, but an illusion.

    Perhaps that is part of my journey as well to determine what is fitness and if I will ever be satisfied. I am glad to see you back with regular posts. Go Vikings.
    Jason recently posted…A Lesson on Renewing Student Loan PaymentsMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      5 months ago

      I had a similar conversation with my wife this past weekend. I said I’m struggling with wanting to do different things: travel, buying a bike, etc. I said I need more money, she did politely remind me that this is the first year I’m maxing out my 401K and H.S.A. and that I’m still saving money and just have less to do those things, tough road. Always more to think about in a financial decision than just the money, happiness is key!

      Thanks Jason………I’m not so sure about this Go Purple Team you speak of.

  • Not gonna lie, I giggled when I read about your car.

    Jokes aside, I agree learning about finances is important. It’s a shame so many people are into their health and all that, but fail to see how money can help with their quality of life.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      5 months ago

      The Benzo de Lorenzo hurt me in so many ways, haha. I think fitness and finances are so similar in how we attack each one as well, yet one of the two often will be neglected and sometimes both.

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