About this- My humble submission to the Get Rich Slowly writing project. Winning the contest would be cool, but I’m happy to participate just because I’m a big fan of J.D. and the Get Rich Slowly website.

I wish I could share a story about how I am debt free and on my way to a comfortable retirement. Sadly, I’m not even close. I have a large, mountain of debt to bury before I can write that story. So how can I share a personal finance success story? I believe that even through the early stages of my plan to get out of debt I have achieved some notable successes.

My total debt is going down now instead of up- this is a huge change! For years my debt number has only gone higher and higher. I kept spending more than I earned and hoping that some day I’d make enough money to pay for it all. Pretty much the typical American way, but thanks to Dave Ramsey and the personal finance blog world I realized that I didn’t have to be typical. I could get out of debt! I started that process by making a budget and spending less than I earned. That simple step was enough to reverse the never ending debt trend that I was on for so many years. Now there is hope.

I went from $0.00 in a savings account to $1,000- that is a huge change! I’ve never had savings before. I spent every dollar I could! It’s a really good feeling too. It feels good to know that I can save money and that I have money available when an emergency strikes. Now there is no need to have a credit card. I just can’t justify it at all- and that is a good thing.

Instead of spending money until my checking account is empty, I plan where every dollar will go at the start of the month- making a detailed budget was really life changing for me. I used to just spend money without any direction or plan, then wonder why I didn’t have money when I needed it or why I kept getting hit with overdraft fees. Now, I have dollars allocated for every monthly need. I know that the bills will get paid and I know how much money I can spend at the grocery store or anywhere else I go. If you haven’t tried a budget yet, I strongly encourage you to do it. It’s an incredibly empowering tool. I can’t imagine living life without one now.

I make some smart decisions with my money now- of course I’m not perfect yet, but I’ve come a long way. I don’t see something I want and rush out and buy it. If I want something, I take some time to think about why I really want it and look for ways that I could get the best possible deal. This usually leads me to not make a purchase at all. I think about how I can simplify my life and be frugal. I have embraced frugality! I thought that was something only ‘cheap’ people did before. Now I get it! Now I see the benefits for my life in general and specifically with my money.

I am losing weight- okay, that isn’t a personal finance success story, but it is because of my focus on getting my finances in order that I feel motivated to lose weight again. Weight is something I have struggled with from time to time, but I strongly believe that the behaviors that put me deeply in debt are at fault for the weight gain as well. It wouldn’t make sense to change my life and win with money and continue to gain weight at the same time.

Like I said at the start, I have a long way to go, but I already have a solid foundation of successes to build my future on. I didn’t get into debt overnight and I won’t get out of debt overnight, but I have hope for the future and I know that some day I’ll be writing another personal finance success story.