Hello from the Mediterranean!
I want to start off by apologizing for not writing more often. I am currently at sea, stationed aboard the USNS John Lenthal T-AO 189, a fleet replenishment tanker owned by Military Sealift Command. If you read my last post, I gave up my law enforcement career to go back out to sea as a 2nd Electrician. I was an electrician in the U.S. Navy for almost 10 years. I am just now getting my “sea-legs” back and adjusting to sea life again. Even though there are many recent changes that have happened in my life, one change is still holding true. That change is my desire to become debt free.
My 1 year anniversary…financially speaking…
I started this financial journey 1 year ago this month. Last August, somehow, I became self aware of my life and especially my finances. I kept trying to figure out what happened. I used to be a young early 20′s sailor that had no debt and was building a good retirement through a traditional IRA. In a blink of an eye, I am now in my upper 30′s with a ton of debt and no clear path to retirement. It had seemed as if I was ran over by the consumer debt train and never knew it.
I didn’t vote for change, I voted for POSITIVE CHANGE
One day I thought to myself, “What the heck happened?” I realized that something had to change and had to change for the better. I sat down at my computer and created 2 spreadsheets. On the first spreadsheet, I listed every debt I owed, the balance, minimum monthly payment and interest rate. I was OVERWHELMED at the total debt I owed. I felt embarrassed, ashamed and even sick to my stomach. $122,000+ I crunched and re-crunched the numbers. Could I really owe over 6 figures of consumer loan debt? You betcha! I realized then, my family and I had to make some serious financial changes.
Create a budget and you have created a path to financial freedom
My second spreadsheet I created was one that I listed out all of my bills that I had to pay on the 1st payday and 2nd payday of the month. It was like putting a puzzle together and not knowing what the puzzle was actually supposed to look like. However, after a few hours, one thing became frighteningly apparent… After the bills were paid, there was not much money left over. I used this rough draft of a budget to figure out where my money was going and what I could do to make it more efficient. The most important part is that I was now able to tell my money where to go instead of it going where ever it wanted to. Visualize your debt!
Pressing fast forward…
Once I created my spreadsheets, and realized that I was in serious financial trouble, I turned to the Internet to find help on getting myself out of debt. I was searching for all the money gurus out there that could assist me in my task of becoming debt free. After spending much the morning and afternoon at Barnes and Noble, I found a book, written by Dave Ramsey, called “My Total Money Makeover.” It was exactly what the doctor ordered. As I read it, it had felt like it was written for me. I could not put it down! The craziest part was that the things he wrote about was nothing new. It wasn’t some secret or “fly by night” way of getting out of debt. It was simply common sense laid out in order. How could something be so simple to do and yet so financially smart? Mr. Ramsey said it best…personal finance is 80% behavior and 20% mathematics. This is so very true.
My current financial status
After leaving my $56,000 a year law enforcement job and currently getting paid over $90,000 a year, I will tell you that my debt free plan is progressing a lot faster now. The $122,000 of consumer debt that I owed a year ago is now under $77,000. So far this year, I have reduced my total overall debt by almost $15,000. Not too bad considering I have only been out at sea since late June of this year. Since being out at sea, I have reduced my debt by over $2000 a month. I am also working on obtaining my United States Coast Guard 3rd Engineer’s license, which will increase my salary to around $150,000 a year. Regardless of the government’s effort in fixing the economy, or lack there of, I am fixing my own economy. How can I do all of this? It is called hard work, dedication and diligence. I don’t need a handout, a tax break or a subsidy. Even though all of those things would be nice, the only thing I really need is time. Give me time and I will give you the effort. I will get the result. I will accomplish my goal. I will become debt free. I encourage all of you to fix your own economy. Stop giving your hard earned money away. Start telling your money where to go instead of it going just wherever. Join me in my quest to become debt free and enjoy building wealth and not debt!
To your financial health – Martilyo!