When Shodi posted in our Health & Fitness group about paying off all her debt, I was so inspired. Being debt free is something my husband and I have more recently been working towards. I know so many other people are in the same boat and would love to feel the financial freedom of being debt free.
I asked Shodi if she wanted to share her story and some tips for paying off debt with the fierce community. She so willingly said yes and in our interview, I got even more inspired by her approach to life! Fierce, indeed. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.
(an interview with Ashley & Shodi)
1. You recently just paid off your house. That’s a huge feat! What I loved about what you said about it is that you said, ‘you sacrificed the temporary satisfactions like buying a or b for long term gain.’ How did you decide to commit to being debt free? Was there a moment of clarity you had or did something happen?
I didn’t really have a moment of clarity. I became a mom at a really young age. In fact it was my senior year of HS so I needed to commit to being a mom and was unable to go to college right away but i had a good job and worked full time. I gave up alot of things when i became a mother. A lot of experiences and freedom, etc.
When I decided to have a new home built at the age of 19, I recognized at that point that I had a head start ahead of most at my age at getting a jump start on a mortgage so one of the things that I did have going for me was that if i stayed consistent and persistent with it, I would own my home, free of debt at a young age. I may have gave up a lot of experiences but I also could recognize the opportunities that I did have that others didn’t!
2. A lot of people get really excited to start something that they really want to have in their lives like losing weight, being debt free, etc. Along the way, challenges and life pop up and this is usually when people stop or give up. Were there any challenges along the way? How did you handle them to stay on track with your goal? Did you have a ‘why’ behind your goal?
Oh good lord, I had challenges galore! Things that at times, I couldn’t see a way around.
I was married for a short time during the beginning of my mortgage and got divorced less that a year after the home had been built. During the time we were separated, my ex husband had created some medical bills that he didn’t pay and several years later they came after me for those bills because they couldn’t collect their money from him. It was $1700 and I didn’t have the money. They garnished my wages and my only option to get that stopped was to pay the bill or file bankrupt.
I had no extra money and no family that could help me. I felt like my world was ending.
I cried for days and days before I had to make the decision to file. It was my only choice. I needed to feed my son and myself and couldn’t live on my wages with a garnishment. I had taken so much pride in my home and paying my bills as a single mom. I was alone and facing something completely humiliating to me.
I have always had so much pride in myself and my actions and was going to have that on my credit record for 7 years. My why behind my goal was a couple things. Mostly is was my son, Gavin. I was strong for him when I couldn’t be strong for myself. I needed to dig deep because I didn’t ever want him to have a mom that gave up. That boy had been my reason for digging deep so much of my young life. And also, when my husband and I parted ways, he made sure to tell me that I would never ever make it on my own without him and I would have to sell the house.
Tell me I cant and I will show you I can! Thats totally my personality.
3. What advice would you give someone who wants to make a long term change in their life?
Ask yourself why you want that change. What will that change bring you?
Get clear about how it is that you want to feel and why you want it. Then begin to work towards it.
Break it down into small doable steps so you don’t feel like giving up! If you break it down into smaller goals, you give yourself plenty of opportunities to reach your goals bit by bit and celebrate those milestones along the way.
After all, the joy should lie in the journey along the way.
4. Did you have a roadmap you created for yourself to get to where you are now? Or, looking back, why do you think you were so successful?
In the beginning, I had no road map.
I was just happy to have a new home and didn’t look ahead 30 years. I actually had no intention or goal of paying my home off early, I was living in the moment plus didn’t have an extra penny to put toward the loan other than my normal payment. After 5 or 6 years when I got a little more stable on my feet, I began to put a little extra toward my principal every month and it was exciting to see that drop quicker. That is when I had the thought that I would pay my house off sooner.
That began to build some momentum.
As time went on I set a goal of putting a large chunk of my tax returns toward the principal. And more and more momentum built. When interest rates dropped, I refinanced and took on a bigger payment for fewer years left on the loan. As the balance continued to drop, I set a hefty goal of having it paid off in my 30s! My goals continued to grow and get more detailed as time went on. I stay dedicated and didn’t sway from the intentions that I had set for myself! I stood strong in my conviction.
5. You said it was challenging along the way, what has the payoff been of facing your challenges and moving forward despite?
The payoff! Omg…an incredible feeling of freedom and accomplishment!
Literally, I could cry happy tears of joy and gratitude for all that I have made a reality for myself.
When you set a big goal and its long term, there’s a lot of energy and momentum and visualization behind that one day becoming your reality, and when it finally does…its just so indescribable! I am so proud of my choices plus it just continues to give me even more confidence that I CAN and WILL achieve anything I set my mind to!
6. A lot of us, once we reach out “goal,” tend go back to our old ways. Do you have a plan of action or approach around continuing to be financially responsible and setting yourself up for the future? Have you loosened the reigns or how are you approaching this now that you’ve reached a big goal?
I didn’t really have any bad spending habits to overcome to reach my goal. I grew up with nothing. And I mean nothing, in terms of money, much for belongings, or financial or emotional or moral support. Once I began working at age 12, I was on my own. I had a roof over my head and that was all that was provided for me.
I learned to manage money from early on and I worked hard for it so I didn’t spend it without a lot of thought. My life had always been about needs over wants. It was about survival. That struggle early on in life set me up to be super mindful and responsible with money.
7. Do you have a new goal?
I definitely have some new goals! And it’s fun just to dream about them. Soon I will be starting my own retirement plan.
I’m self employed so its up to me to create my own retirement. I watch my dad struggle because he did not save for his retirement so he lives on $900 a month. I don’t want that to be me. I have always learned by watching others struggle, which is a blessing because it has saved me from learning some lessons the hard way myself. Aside from retirement savings, I plan to do some new and fun updates on my home.
I also plan to do a fun lil solo celebration trip for myself as a reward for reaching this goal. It will be so gooey and dripping with goodness. I just have not found the perfect trip yet. A wellness or fitness-spa getaway. I also plan to set aside money so when the time rolls around that I need a new vehicle, I want to be able to pay cash for it.
8. What is your favorite quote that inspired you through this goal or that inspires you in your life in general?
“Little by little, a little becomes alot.”
When times are tough, I remind myself, “this too shall pass.” I’ve also been huge about taking full responsibility over my own life and choices and not being a victim or blaming others. And this quote paints that nicely, “wherever you go, there you are.” Meaning if you have a problem in life, figure out what it is within you that is a part of the problem or it will follow you all your life.
9. Is there anything else you feel you want to share with our readers?
Make your life about you!
As a society our biggest personal demise is comparison. Always looking at the tv, magazines, billboards, the neighbors, coworkers and friends and trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing just so we can feel worthy. And, we never do. You will never find your self worth and value by focusing outside of yourself.
Life is a journey about being the authentic you that you came here to be!
Those qualities lie within you. No one gets to decide for you what those are. It’s your job to honor yourself and bring out all of the greatness to the surface and to this world. Once you really get that and embrace that, you begin to shine in ways that you never knew was even possible. The world doesn’t need anything more than what you came here to be! Go. Be. Shine. With the greatest of love, Shodi.
If you loved reading this, drop Shodi a comment below.
As always, Fierce Forward! Ashley