It all started in 2004. I lived in the US for only a year and I just started my new job as a teacher. I was making $2200 a month and I thought I was the richest person in the world (Ha! $2200, you’re kidding. Remember, I came from the Philippines where we make an average of $300 a month.). I just moved into my very first apartment, I bought a new car, I felt like the world was my oyster. What do I do with all this money? It all started with small things. Fancier shampoo, new furniture, new clothes, frequent visits to the salon, new electronics. Later, I started going to nicer restaurants and going out more with my friends.
In the process of working and spending, I started developing the mentality of “I worked hard for this money. I deserve to reward myself.” I bought a timeshare (15% interest – 7 years to pay), started buying the newest TVs, home decor, newest Apple products and other electronics, more purses, more shoes, new watches, more clothes. I fell into the trap of materialism. As soon as I get my paycheck, I was already broke. I was not getting along with my family and other people. I hated my job and wanted to quit. I was just depressed.
Then in November 2012, I went to First Step to Success. I was forced to look back and see what I had acquired in all of my years of “working hard.” I had nothing to show for. I had no assets. All I had were “things” and they had NO value. My mentor Dani Johnson asked me how much I had made in the last five years and how much money I had in the bank. The numbers were astounding. I made so much money but I had nothing left but $800 in my savings, which was quickly getting depleted because I kept dipping into it every month. Disgusting. To top all of that, I was in debt (timeshare, student loan, car loan, and I even owed some cash). I was devastated.
That was the moment I decided I was not gonna be that person anymore.
So I listened and followed directions. In fifteen months, I was able to pay off $16,000+ by changing my spending habits. I stopped caring about keeping up with Joneses. I improved my relationship with my family. I am so much happier at work because I am less stressed. My students are awesome and we enjoy our time in class. I have become an inspiration to my family and my friends. I have been able to travel to Texas, New York, North Carolina, and Portland with expenses paid in cash. I always wanted to travel, which was one of my top goals in life.
I am now able to dream big and actually know that I CAN do it.
The past year has not been easy. Some relationships were strained, but thankfully recently restored. I have been able to teach my son and my students about money. I wish someone taught me how when I was younger, but that doesn’t matter because it is NEVER too late.
This year, I am celebrating my freedom so I have already purchased our plane tickets to the Philippines to visit Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Island Palawan and I am taking my family this summer. My next goal is to make smart investments (which I was afraid to do while focusing on just paying everything off). I am going to get involved in charity work that is close to my heart. I am also going to do better at blogging by being more consistent and not being all over the place. I want to pursue my makeup career even further. I also plan on exploring photography this year, another hobby of mine. I will not question myself anymore and trust that I have the skills that I have always been insecure about.
I have another chance for a new beginning. That starts today. I am free. My life will never be the same again.