[Image credit: Max Pixel]
I've been working with Katie for a while now to help her regain control of her finances. She has an amazing story about how she went from perfectly independent, to finding herself in an abusive business relationship, through to building the strength to take back the reigns.
It’s so inspiring I asked if she would be happy for me to share it with you. This is what she wrote:
Rock bottom can mean a lot of things, and for me it meant more than one. Emotionally, I had become vulnerable and that made everything about the financial stress seem so much more suffocating. Through a lot of hard work and a constant effort towards trying to keep positive as often as possible, I was able to overcome.
The situation I had found myself in had started years earlier, when I moved in with someone that I had considered a close friend. I was very positive at first, but as things started to progress, it became clear that I was the only one that was going to put forth any effort. As a freelancer with a roommate that I had brought into the same business, that meant that while I had once thought I was achieving more income and less work, the reality of the situation was that I had to take on twice as much work in order to make enough money.
One person was working and two people were spending, which quickly led to debt. It did not help that I am a nice person, and I would still lend or give small amounts of money to one of our neighbours. He was on Centrelink, so he had a fixed income, and he suffered from hallucinations due to paranoid schizophrenia. Having said that, he was diligent with his medication so I honestly believed it wouldn’t affect me.
At first, we would pay our bills a few days late. Not a big deal, I thought. Then chores weren't getting done though, so the house became messier and messier. The only way to change that was to take time away from work to clean things up, and then paying our bills a few days late turned into a few weeks; then a few months. Before I knew it, we were facing letters from our internet, power, and landlord saying that we were at risk of losing their services.
This, of course, was when my roommate finally decided to leave. In any other situation, that would have felt like a gift from heaven. You’d think it would have been obvious that my life was infinitely better… but all of that debt was staring me in the face and now I knew without a doubt that I would be the only one working to pay it all off. Deadlines were looming which made it even more stressful.
There were only two options. I could lay down and give up and allow my debt to swallow me whole, putting me on the streets with my cat and dog or I could dust myself off and make things better. Nobody else was going to help me as much as I could help myself.
The first thing I tried to do was jump into work. Perfect solution, right? But I found that my mind was clogged from all of the stress I had endured. I applied for a few writing jobs and then got to work on the house. It was hard, but I tackled different parts of the mess my old roommate had left behind and piece by piece, things started looking better.
For days, I alternated between cleaning and applying for new work, and unexpectedly I realised that the cleaner the house was around me, the more it felt like my home. The more the living space around me felt like it was mine, the easier it was to work.
My priorities became clearer. I realised that my focus needed to be on building a "financial home" and then a new life. It was hard at first, because I didn't have anyone to help me, but with Erika I've managed to find my way out of debt and now have some huge savings behind me!
Isn't Katie amazingly inspiring? Next week we'll be discussing some takeaways from her story (and I want to thank you again, Katie, for letting me share your story with everyone).
Have a wonderful week,
The Income Organisers