Profiling Sara Pereda, Finance Savvy Asst. Part II

Image Credit: Forefrontchurg

Image Credit: Forefrontchurg

Sara Pereda is already a SUPER cool asst., but what makes her even MORE COOLIO?

How about….Debt FREE.  You can’t get any cooler than that.

 

When you make big bucks as an Asst., it’s easy to spend big bucks. Tackling  her student loans & credit cards makes this leading super ROCK start asst. at the TOP of her game. Sara has been CREDIT card debt F R E E since 2012 & will be Student Loan free Sept. 2013.

How about them apples?!

Image credit: concealedmind.comImage credit: concealedmind.com

Image credit: concealedmind.com

 

If you are one of the 37 MILLION {gee whiz} people with student loan debt  according to the  Federal Reserve Board of New York){I am}, let’s give a SUPER BIG thank you to SARA for sharing her story & helping make a difference. I hope she inspires YOU as much as she has me.

 

Inspire 11

Image credit: thomasdeaconacademy.co.uk

 

Watch, Listen & L E A R N  Sara’s  tips on finance through the video below & read her interviews with The Wall Street Journal {click link} as well as with her church.

Good Sense Course: Sara’s story from forefront church on Vimeo.

 

 

twitter birdAny questions about Finances contact Miss thing at : twitter.com/sarapereda

 

 

Go SARA! To Read Sara’s Finance Journey Article in entirety & get her Finance tips, click on the link “More” link below!

MY DEBT FREE JOURNEY…by Sara Pereda

One of the hardest things in life is to admit you have a problem. But the first step in recovery is admission of saidproblem right? Well, it took me several years, several thousands of dollars and several maxed out credit cards to
realize that I may not be the best at my finances.

My name is Sara and I am a spending addict. I have been able to
balance and oversee budgets in excess of $500,000 but somehow can’t manage to budget or balance my own (much
smaller) spending habits.
You see, I fell into the trap of needing to “build credit” my first week in college as the credit card company handed
me a “free” shirt and an application. The representative said I needed this to gain financial stability and develop a
great start to the next stage in my life…adulthood.
Little did he know he’d he just handed the addict her first drink…or debt. My problems with finances started way
before that moment.

Even though I grew up in home with two parents who didn’t have much debt and taught me how to balance the checkbook, I was always keeping up with the Jones’ or the Martinez’s. I was always comparing what I had with what others had and spending beyond my budget. Whether it was buying a new stereo system (which was my first purchase on that lovely first credit card) or going to Europe with my girlfriends while pulling a cash advance on the cards so that I would have money to spend, I was living large and living off 24% interest.
I was being told over and over again that everyone has debt, that I was young (!) and so I had plenty of time to pay it off. I wish my 30 year old self could grab my 18 year old self and explain the nights of crying and working 18 hours
to pay off those creditors who were always there and knocking on the door each month. I wish I could explain that those decisions then would determine my career path and where I would live for the next 12 years. I wish I could
explain that I if I didn’t spend like that, then I wouldn’t be living like a college student now.

But when we are young, we think we have plenty of time to figure things out.
Fast forward a few years. I was having a change in position within my company and I decided to move to NYC. I was interviewing with companies out here and took a position that I was excited about, though a little worried about the
financial aspect.

You see, I was maxed out of 6 credit cards and I had to depend on the overtime at my new job to make all the finances work out. A year later the economy tanked and my company decided to cut all overtime across
the board. I was now at a job I loved but not able to afford to stay there. Why? Because I was cash strapped and over maxed out.
Luckily my lovely church (Forefront) was holding a course called “Good Sense.” I knew I was in desperate times and
needing to figure all of this out. While I had never been late on a payment to my creditors, I knew I was in trouble. I got these notices at that time in the mail saying my interest rates where going up. Did I mention my income was going
down?! I also had never really looked at all of my debt at once to see how bad of shape I was in.

So, one Saturday morning, I showed up with credit card statements hidden in my bag, my laptop (which I was still
paying for on my Best Buy card) and my pride on my sleeves. My plan was to sneak in there and hope Charles and John (who were teaching the course) would tell me I was doing fine. Then the band aide came off and I had to face

reality for the first time. They encourage everyone taking the course to read the book they were giving us, to write out all of our debt out and make a plan/budget. The book was called “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey and it literally changed my life!!!
I almost get a little emotional thinking about it. I remember the feeling of hopelessness and a sense of hitting rock bottom. Reason being is that after writing down all my debt, I realized I was $42,000 in credit card debt and
$49,000 in student debt.

In total, my debt reached over $91,000 and would take me over 15 years to pay it back at the rate I was going. My education was almost less than my trips abroad and my eating out habit. It is honestly
embarrassing to admit the amount, but I realize that by sharing it, I am not the only one who is in this place. There is
hope…I promise you aren’t alone!
MY DEBT FREE JOURNEY…by Sara Pereda
Finally writing that number down made me realize I had hit rock bottom and the only place to go was up and out of
debt.

I made the big step and meet with Charles Hwang and Cherington Shucker. I had to be honest with myself and
with them as to where I was at financially. We made a plan and part of that plan was that I would be unable to use any
credit cards. I basically had to cut me off cold turkey and only use cash. With NO savings and not having told my
parents about my problem, I had no safety net. I was scared, but knew rock bottom was a miserable place to be…so
cold turkey it was.

That was May 2009.
The biggest problem area for me was EATING OUT!!!! I literally spent the majority of my paycheck living it up in
Manhattan as everyone who moves here thinks you should. So, I started cooking at home and trying to bring my lunch
to work. Then I slowly started being creative and eating before meeting up with friends and buying one drink verses
five. I would start suggesting to friends to come over for dinner (I knew I could feed all of us for less than $10 verses
going out and each person spending $20). It is all about creativity when paying off your debt.

It is also about saying NO to fun things as well while realizing the long term goal of being DEBT FREE! Can you
imagine not having to owe anyone anything?! As I started creating the habit of paying the debt down and working
towards that goal, I wanted to get there sooner. I began to get impatient and tried figure out a way to put more money
towards that goal. Anytime I had extra cash, I would put it towards that debt.

It was REALLY hard to do this, but I
started to see a difference, and the debt went down.
I then was encouraged when I reread “Total Money Makeover” and saw that some people had taken on two jobs (a
full time and a part time) to “get er done!” So, I picked up my first weekend job. I have had a few part time jobs since
starting the “like a gazelle” stage of my debt free goals (see Dave Ramsey’s book for an explanation). I have done
anything from Weekend Nannying little brats on the Upper East Side, to working the Front Desk at Equinox, to
Working as a Brunch Hostess at a restaurant to Cocktail Waitressing (my current weekend job).

I also realized that while I LOVED my apartment I was living in, I needed to find something cheaper. While I could
afford the rent, I was prolonging my paying back experience. So, I moved from 87th and Amsterdam where I paid
$1,150 for a HUGE bedroom to a lovely Harlem 5th floor walk up apartment where I only pay $460 (includes utilities
and cleaning supplies – great deal right? Answer to a lot of prayers). I made the sacrifice to downsize from a queen
size bed to a twin at 30 years old. But let me tell you how GREAT it will feel to owe nothing next year and to also
have some breathing room in the budget. It goes back to my problem of living up to other people and not living within
my means. While I long to live on my own in a 1 bedroom, I know this will all be worth it!

When I started my debt journey in May 2009, the Debt Management Company said that based on my income and
my debt, it would take me 4.5 years to pay off my credit card debt (not including my student loans). When you hear
that, you want to cry as that seems daunting. HOWEVER, I am happy to report that I will make my last credit card
payment on September 15, 2012 and I will be credit card debt FREE!!!

And as of September 2013, I will student
loan debt FREE!!!
I will have paid off $91,000 plus in less than 4 years…living in Manhattan as a single person and still getting to
travel and eat out occasionally – totally an answer to a lot of prayers, tears and sharing with a lot of people about
my problem…spending!

The Good Sense Course works…it you give it a chance! Contact me anytime you have
questions or need someone to talk to!
SARA
PEREDA

twitter.com/sarapereda

 

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One Response to Profiling Sara Pereda, Finance Savvy Asst. Part II

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