Being $185,000 in credit card debt didn’t begin with one huge, ridiculous purchase.
It all really started because I became stuck in a vicious cycle of overspending and then being in debt. Every time I looked at how much debt I had, the worse I felt, and that would trigger more spending to make myself feel better. It spiralled from there.
And even though I was in $185,000 of debt, I was in denial about the severity and how many credit cards I had.
For those who want to know the depths of debt denial I was in, I had 11 credit cards. Six were from Canada and were maxed out at $100,000. Five were from Australia and were maxed out at $85,000.
I had 11 creditors chasing me across two continents and at my lowest ebb I was getting phone calls in the middle of the night.
But all the time it was easier to get more credit, or another credit card, to pay for things I didn't have the money for rather than for me to deal with the reality of my bills and how far I was living beyond my means.
I realised I was in deep trouble when I could no longer sleep at night. In addition to the debt collector phone calls waking me up at various hours, I was waking up with anxiety at all hours because I was so out of control.
There was no golden 'A-HAH!' moment when I decided I needed to stop this cycle. It was more something had to change because by this stage I was in chronic fear of answering the phone or opening the mail.
When I finally decided to face my debt in my 40s I looked into all the options for making more money and preparing for a comfortable retirement.
It was a deliberate process.
I negotiated a higher salary for my 'day job' and I built skills as a coach and trainer so that I could develop a side business and and earn extra income. In short, I had to put one financial step in front of the other. There was nothing dramatic - just a desire to have a realistic plan to get rid of this debt.
Mine was "earn more money, spend less, pay off credit cards".
One of the most important financial issues I knew I had to tackle was my super. I wanted to start getting serious about it – trying to work out a way to jump on the train without missing too many stations as I was already ‘so far behind’ my friends and colleagues.
This was something that would set me up for my future.
- Women tend to live longer than men, yet on average, they retire with around half as much superannuation as men.1
- Around 90 per cent of women will retire with inadequate savings to fund a comfortable retirement.1
- Women earn on average, $700,000 less than men during their lifetime.2
- The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, 2015.
- 2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014. Average Weekly Earnings, Australia, 6302. ($700,000 based on an average 45-year career).
In a short time, I’ve managed to really get clear about how I would boost my super. I wanted to make sure there was no stone left unturned when it came to realising potential growth leading up to my retirement.
Here’s what I did.
1. Consolidated and simplified
I was so disorganised around money that keeping track of my super was beyond me.
It’s OK to feel a bit overwhelmed about the paperwork involved in getting organised – but make sure you take one small action each day or week towards checking on and/or consolidating any super. There are some fantastic free resources online which makes finding your super easy – check out the bank’s or government’s resources on line – www.ato.gov.au/super or https://findmysuper.com.au or www.moneysmart.gov.au.