The Beginning: From Slave to Lender

In my early 20’s I came cross this quote, 
“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” 
Without words, reality hit me:  I am a slave.

When I had this realization, I was working part time and taking courses at the local college.  My life seemed very pleasant from the outside.  Superficially everything was good, except for the fact that I was heading in a direction financially that would only lead to disaster.

I have to admit, I made some pretty bold decisions being a teenager, one of them being deciding to graduate high school one year early and then later packing up all of my belongings in my 2000 Grand Am and moving completely alone all the way across the USA, without the approval of my parents, to attend university.

.I had very little money to my name (no financial support from my family), but my determination to make my dream become a reality was so engrained into my being that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that no obstacle would be able to hold me back.
Obviously, nothing comes for free. Moving out of state to attend university came with a very high price tag, but given the fact that my mind was absolutely set on this, I did not even take time to think about the price.
My mentality was….

“I have my whole life to pay off debt, besides EVERYONE has it, so NO BIG DEAL.”

My mentality was not far from the truth. Most Americans are swimming in debt, so why not just be like everyone else?

I went to university, took took out a hefty loan and luckily I was able to get grants for the other large portion. I had never learned about dealing with finances in my life. This was not something that was even mentioned in school (which is a shame) and nothing that my parent’s ever taught me (they have their own warped view on money, so it’s better I did not get many lessons from them on this). 
In addition to all the student loans that I accumulated over years of attending the university, I decided that I absolutely NEEDED a new car. I did not have the money for it, but the car dealership was offering such good and honest offer to me, where I would only have to pay like $400 a month with interest for the rest of my life, good deal right?!!?!

Do you sense my sarcasm?

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But remember, I was young and  “I have my whole life to pay off this stuff.”
So, what did I do next? I went blindly into the car dealership and walked straight into a scam. I brought along my dad to help me with the papers and BOY was that a terrible idea….
So there we were… Two naive buyers in a car dealership, with an urgency to buy NOW and ONLY NOW, which is literally the ideal client to have as the seller. He made it sound like we were getting the best deal ever and BAMMMM, I signed the the papers without paying much attention to it, my dad cosigned and we walked away thinking we just got a bargain.. 
Little did we know, this small car dealership had review after review online of countless people that they had scammed. It took us about a month to realize that we had fell into the trap as well, and secretly within those fine lines of the contract was something that we did not see, which caused us to pay $5.000 more than we thought we were, with a higher interest rate that we had expected..

Seeing this situation, I felt cheated…

I knew I had to find a solution, because if not, then I would be paying like 4x more than I should at the end of having the car. I searched endlessly on the internet and decided that I was going to sell the car for what I paid and go directly to a “reputable” dealership and buy a brand new car from them.

I just knew that the big dealerships would be honest and get me a good deal, unlike the smaller used places- naive

 

At the time that I made this decision of getting a brand new car, I was working as a nanny for two kids. I was young and not even making a salary, but I felt entitled to have a brand new car, so I did not care about the price; I wanted my dream car and I wanted it NOW!

I was pumped up for the new idea and shared my new big plan to the father that I was nannying for, who is a successful businessman. Instead of sharing the excitement with me, he just stared blankly at me….

If looks could kill, I would’ve died in that very moment.
.

He already knew the trouble I got into with my first car and hearing my knew plan at such a young age, with no real income, he knew that he had to step in. He looked at me with a stern face and said firmly,  
“Sarah, I am going to step my boundary and be honest. You are being ridiculous. You do NOT need a brand new car and more than anything, you do NOT need more debt, especially for not even being 21 years old yet!”

I felt very offended by his opinion, but it was a life changing moment for me…. ..

Successful people do not just get to where they are because of speaking words, but by action. He did not just tell me those words and hope to get my attention. He said, lets make a deal… There is a financial expert out there named Dave Ramsey and he has a book called the “Total Money Makeover.” He said, 
Go home and read this book and at the end, if you still feel the obsession to go buy a brand new car, then do it….

OH. MY. GOSH

At the age of 20 years old I literally had one of those moments where I thought, “I will actually never forget this moment until the day that I die.” 
….
I instantly started reading the The Total Money Makeover, which is a best selling book that gives actionable steps on how to get out of debt and transform your life 

Some look at this book and call it common sense, but for me it was as if my eyes were being opened for the first time in my life!

.I was introduced to new concepts that I had never even heard or thought of and I could not put down the book. I read it over and over, highlighting sections and taking notes. 
It was an absolute SHOCK to me that this very successful author, Dave Ramsey, was actually saying that you can build wealth, be successful and do outstanding things, WITHOUT DOUBT….


WHAT?!?! .
….

When you constantly owe money the bank and other people, you are choosing to be a slave to them and their horrible conditions, interest rate and scams—and yes, many times they are SCAMS!

I felt like I owed my life to my boss for giving me the tool that absolutely changed and save my life and future. 

After reading this book a few times, all of my desires for a new car and more debt vanished. I had a burning desire to apply these new concepts into my life, because I wanted to be free and have a future with financial freedom. 
On the day I finished the book (after about the 4th time), I made a promise to myself….

I do not care how much I have to work, or all I might have to sacrifice, I am FINISHED being a slave to my lender.

 

I made a plan, finished my degree and the local community college, without additional debt and instantly applied for nursing school. I stopped nannying for the family and put my full dedication into finishing school in order to have a well paid job that would allow me to tackle my debt.

Making a very long story short, I graduated nursing school, passed the nursing exam, got my license and instantly found a job, making more money than I ever had. The more the money starting coming in, the more I was haunted by my debt.  During school I paid my car loan with my part time jobs, but my student loan was deferred while I was still in school, so I just ignored it.

I
was making good money, but I was also swimming in debt with an interest rate of over 13%. 

I pulled out the Dave Ramsey book again and was later introduced to a course that he offers called Financial Peace University and found out that the course was offered just minutes from my house!


I was willing and ready to do anything that it took to get out of debt, but I did not believe that I could do it alone. I needed to reach out and get support.

I instantly enrolled in the course, along side 20 older people that were swimming in debt and together we started to go into depth about our finances and changing the way we looked at money.

I instantly started applying what I learned and I started to gain momentum using his technique called the debt snow ball, where you start to gain momentum by paying off your lowest debt to your highest, all with the idea of seeing little wins along the way.

I was highly motivated with all that I was learning and by the fact that I was destroying my debt with all the long hours that I was working. I felt like the energizer bunny that took on ALL extra shifts, weekends and holiday’s, because that meant more pay and one step closer to my goal.

As much as it may seem like it, the biggest shift was not happening as I was seeing numbers drop. What I noticed more than anything was a sense of lightness in my mind and new sense of hope for the future.


I began to envision the kind of life that I have always dreamed of, but never truly believed that I could have, such as traveling and living abroad, while the appeal of a new car, a big house, new clothes and a life of materialistic possessions seemed to disappear. 


My WHOLE entire life was transformed. 

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I finished Financial Peace University and continued working feverishly, while day dreaming on a daily basis about what kind adventure I was going to take as soon as I reached my financial goal. 

Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else, so one day you can live like no one else.”

I repeated that quote OVER and OVER in my head during that time, knowing that if I worked my butt and ditched the debt, then one day I will have more freedom to do the things that I really want. 
It was one of the hardest journeys that I have ever taken. It was NOT easy. I felt exhausted on days and felt like I wanted to give up, but I will NEVER that feeling as I sold my car, took $8.000 dollars out of my savings account and made that VERY last payment on my debt.

I literally did something that most people viewed as impossible in such a short period of time– I was 100% debt free!

That was only the beginning.

I was in my early 20’s and I had no limits to what I could do. I decided to take action on my dreams and just shortly after paying off all of my debt, I bought a one day ticket to Spain and made my dream come true of living in Europe! 
 It seems very cliche to say, but it is SO true…
With a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, the willingness to put forth the work and effort and an unswerving dedication to make your dream become a reality, you really can do the impossible! 
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Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comThe Beginning: From Slave to Lender