If you’ve been in credit card debt before, you’ll definitely relate to this story and if you currently have credit card debt, you’ll find it inspiring. This week my interview is with LaTisha Styles who paid off $22,000 of credit card debt in 3 years.
She overcame low wages early in her career along with being burdened by her debt by implementing some strategies that everyone can use. Most important, you’ll want to know what allowed her to change her mindset and become credit card debt free.
LaTisha “Tish” Styles is a nationally recognized millennial personal finance expert and digital marketing professional. She is the founder of YoungFinances.com and President of Financial Success Media, LLC. Through her signature training programs, LaTisha helps service-based entrepreneurs build a lead generating system to attract new clients. She has been featured in The Economist, quoted in Forbes, and mentioned in U.S. News and World Report as a top personal finance expert to follow on Twitter.
How did you get into debt? What was the first purchase you remember making that contributed to your debt or started the downward spiral?
I had allowed my debt to grow to over $22,000 in credit card debt and I had about $10,000 remaining on a car loan when I decided to pay it all off.
I got my first credit card at the age of 18 and I exchanged my SSN for a free shirt. I had no idea that I would get approved. In fact, I was sure that I wouldn’t get approved. A few weeks later, I got this credit card in the mail and I promised myself that I would be responsible with it.
At first, I paid it off in full each month but then I started to pay less and less. I remember my first purchase was a dress that I bought at Dillard’s. It was on sale for $10. I show the dress in my debt payoff video here.
When did you decide your debt was a problem? Did you have an ‘aha moment’ and what triggered it?
I realized that my debt was a problem when I had to turn down a job because the salary was not enough to allow me to handle even my minimum monthly payments. This was after I had gone back to school to get a better degree.
I graduated into the recession and because of the internship that I secured while in school. I immediately received a job offer. But the pay was no better than the full-time retail jobs I had left to improve my education. I felt defeated.
At that moment, I decided that I never wanted to make another decision based on my debt.
Did you implement a specific strategy to start paying off your debt?
Because I did not take that job, I went back to working part-time and jobs here and there to make ends meet. But I was starting to fall behind on my debt. My card accounts became delinquent and I sought help from a consumer credit counseling agency, Clearpoint.
They helped me to create a 3-year plan so pay everything off. I knew that I needed help from a third party because I was falling so far behind and many creditors were threatening legal action.
What were some obstacles you were/are faced with? How did you deal with the days when you lost motivation?
Paying off that debt over the span of 3 years was not easy. I put together a budget but I still had a bit of frustration when I saw about $400-$500 from every paycheck going to debt payoff. I started to think about what I could do with that money if I didn’t have debt. That kept me motivated at times.
But then I realized that I needed to include mini-rewards along the way for myself. So I started putting aside $50 per month towards a travel fund. And when it reached $600, I boarded a plane to the Bahamas stay for a day or so and enjoyed a taste of what life would be like after my debt was paid off. That travel fund kept me going.
What motivates you? What would you say to people who think they can’t get out of debt in an attempt to change their mindset?
I’m most motivated by competition. That is one of the main reasons that I enjoy Crossfit. But paying off debt is a personal struggle. I used stories of people who had done it already to help me stay motivated.
I read blogs, listened to podcasts, and imagined how I would tell my story. When I made my YouTube video telling how I had done it, it felt really good. And it made that 3 years all worth it.
Learn More About LaTisha
I’m most active on Facebook and you can find me there at Facebook.com/LaTishaTV. I’m also on Instagram and Twitter @LaTishaStylesTV and if you’d like my one-page budget printable that can help you get out of debt then you can view if here.
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