Sticking to a budget and paying off debt is hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it. My husband and I began our journey to pay off six-figure debt, nearly $150,000, back in June of 2018.
Facing that number was not easy.
Through hard work, dedication, and sacrifice, we’ve been able to pay off half of our debt in less than two years, which included selling my BMW X1. Our biggest win yet.
Many of you may think, “Well it’s easy for you guys to pay off six-figure debt because you have two incomes.” “But, is it possible for me to pay off six-figure debt as a single woman with an average income?”
Can I let you in on a little secret?
I know I always say this, but it’s true. You can pay off six-figure debt, five-figure-debt, or any amount of debt on any income whether you are single or married. Yes, you read that correctly.
There’s a lot of people in the #DebtFreeCommunity on Instagram that have done so and you can be the next.
In fact, that’s one of the reasons why I started the inspireHER series. I want women of all income types, backgrounds, and marital statuses to see other women who are killing it on their journey towards financial freedom.
After all, this is a safe space where women just like you can talk openly about money without being judged, shamed, or feel the need to prove that they’re better than anyone else.
For the first of this series, I reached out to my personal finance sister Nika aka @debtfreegonnabe to share her plan to pay off six-figure debt, a whomping $211,000, as a single woman with a single income and no kids. She’s literally hustling her way to financial freedom.
Nika is from our nation’s capital and is a huge Washinton Nationals fan. Her passions include serving others in her community, DIY projects and solo traveling to help keep her grounded.
Read on to discover Nika’s journey to financial freedom and how she’s surely an inspiration to us all.
Kayla: Hey girl. You’re well-loved in the #DebtFreeCommunity, but for those that may not know you, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Nika: I live in Washington, DC, and most people don’t believe it when I tell them, but I am a huge Washington Nationals baseball fan.
I definitely consider myself a foodie, and I’m sure that’s where all of my money goes. I love good, quality food, with an experience.
Kayla: I’m sure you get this question a lot, but you live in Washington, DC. Does that mean you work for the government?
Nika: I’ve been working in the federal government for almost 10 years.
Kayla: Wow 10 years!?! That’s awesome. What are some things you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Nika: My passion in life is helping people whether it’s at work, running errands, or even on Instagram. I routinely volunteer with the Salvation Army and initiatives that feed and clothe those [who are] in crisis/need.
I love to read, [and] I love making…DIY stuff like dish soap, body scrub, candles, greeting cards, etc.
I find peace being on or in the water and I love solo travel! It helps to reground me and gives me a different perspective on people and places. My favorite city to visit is New Orleans…it just has this vibe. My favorite island…Turks and Caicos hands down. I’d live there if I could.
Kayla: Solo traveling has always been on my bucket list. I need to make that happen soon. So tell us, what led you to make the choice to pursue financial freedom?
Nika: The idea of working for someone else the rest of my life just to pay bills…someone else who would dictate what I did and how much I got paid didn’t sit well with me.
Kayla: Girl, I feel you. The main reason why we’re working hard to pay off our six-figure debt is so that we have the freedom to live life on our own terms. How much debt are you currently paying off?
Nika: I’m paying off a total of $211k!
Kayla: Our six-figure debt included everything from cars, student loans, medical bills, credit cards, etc. Basically, if you can have credit for it, we had it. What caused you to accumulate your six-figure debt?
Nika: Poor money habits, maxing out student loans semester after semester…
Kayla: I also used my student loan refund checks to pay to live in an expensive apartment off-campus and take many vacations with my friends. I guess I didn’t realize it wasn’t actually free money, and that I would have to pay it back.
Nika: …prioritizing fun over essential expenses.
Kayla: I love celebrating financial wins with my Budget Besties. What has been the greatest win on your journey towards financial freedom so far?
Nika: Paying off my car six months early and paying off almost $40k in debt in less than 2 years.
Kayla: Congrats girl. That’s HUGE! Your dedication to become debt-free is definitely paying off. Have you overcome any hurdles along the way? This journey can be tough at times.
Nika: Depression. After paying off about $15k of credit card debt, I got hit with a $21k tax bill and it knocked me down for a bit.
Kayla: I can see how that could get you down especially after such a huge accomplishment. One of the things I regret the most is financing a BMW X1 right after having my daughter. Do you have any financial regrets?
Nika: Student loans.
Kayla: So, I know my community would want to know. So many people categorize student loans as good debt and don’t feel like they’d be able to get as far in their career without them. Why do you consider your student loans a regret?
Nika: I took out way more than I needed to cover tuition, books, and supplies. I also kept going into forbearance because I couldn’t get in control of my finances. Now, I accrue $25 a day in interest on my student loans.
Kayla: And that $25 a day definitely adds up quickly and then capitalizes at the end of the month. Girl, don’t get me started on why I despise them so much. LOL.
Nika, I have to ask. Do you feel that women are underrepresented in the financial services industry?
Nika: I think historically women haven’t been taken seriously enough when it comes to things like finance, engineering, and technology. We’re on our way to making our voices heard, but the financial industry appears to still be a white, male-dominated industry.
Kayla: I agree 100%. We can have the same success as men and have those same conversations with an understanding that financial freedom is not something that’s out of our reach.
To wrap up, if you could give a piece of financial advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Nika: Pay yourself first, and if you can’t pay cash for it upfront, you can’t afford it…so save up, then buy it. Period.
Kayla: Period. Okay, so how can my community find you?
Kayla: Thanks so much for sharing your story with the pHERsonal finance community where women can be comfortable talking about finances even though society may shame us for doing so.
I hope you’re feeling as inspired to discover financial freedom as I am after hearing Nika’s story.
If you’d like your story featured in inspireHER, which is a feature section on pHERsonalfinance.com highlighting women that are killing it on their journey towards financial freedom, share your story with me here.
If you’re ready to transform your finances, check out the 30-day money challenge to help you get started. You’ll be well on your way to renewing your mindset about money.