Hello, my name is Alexis and I am a current Honors student, Phi Theta Kappa member, and a former active participant in the Gaining Momentum program at Austin Community College. Gaining Momentum is an educational and capability-building program that reaches program goals, including reducing debt, supporting credit building and creating a pathway to financial empowerment and asset accumulation for Black students, a crucial step in reducing the racial wealth gap. With this new knowledge and boost of motivation, I started on my journey to financial freedom by first acknowledging my debt and then creating a debt repayment plan.
I started applying for credit cards right after highschool without much knowledge on how to manage money or the consequences of frivolous spending which quickly racked up credit card debt. As far as my credit score was concerned I knew to at least make the minimum monthly payments in order to avoid derogatory marks on my credit score and late fees. Aside from making my monthly minimum payments I was still charging my cards, leading me further down what felt like a never ending cycle of credit card debt.
Feeling overwhelmed with being trapped in my financial situation I was given the opportunity to join the Gaining Momentum program where I was able to learn helpful skills and was provided with educational tools and resources to dig myself out of credit card debt and avoid any kind of future debt if at all possible! During the program I attended financial coaching sessions and set up a debt repayment plan. I also tracked my monthly spending to see where I could budget better and free up extra money to add onto my monthly payments. While I never missed a payment, only paying the minimum monthly payment paired with a high interest rate on a maxed out card was going to be a long road and I wanted to be financially free sooner than later.
I have taken bold strides towards my goal of financial freedom. One of the first things I did was to resolve my medical debt that had gone into collections and have it removed from my credit report. I have started to track, manage (and adjust if needed) my monthly expenses to free up money to make additional payments towards my debt. I have also taken advantage of free check-ins with my financial advisor at Mosaiec Coaching to ensure that I am staying on track, holding myself accountable, and asking any questions I may have about financial planning. During my financial coaching sessions we created a debt repayment plan utilizing the snowball method where I focus on paying off the smallest amount of debt first by making larger monthly payments while still paying the minimum on all of the other cards.
Everyday I am getting one step closer to financial freedom. Today I am still on track to paying off all of my debt and am making responsible financial choices. Instead of charging my cards, I have turned them off and am only making payments without accumulating additional charges. As far as spending goes, I have used my budget tracker to calculate average monthly expenses in different categories and set budgets for each. Outside of my fixed expenses, I have started cash stuffing- formally known as the envelope method- to save for variable expenses such as traveling, birthday celebrations, and Christmas gift shopping.
After joining the Rainy Day Savings program provided by the Student Money Management Office, I have learned the importance of saving up for an emergency or an opportunity! This has also been very helpful in ensuring my hard work paying down debt is not compromised by unforeseen circumstances/events.