Happy New Year! I know it’s a few days into the year but I didn’t want to bombard you on the first with all of the, “Things To Change…Resolutions…New Year New You…Money Challenge…Lose Weight Fast” type post.
Today, I’m here to talk to you about my life. How I lost everything, and how Ericka Saves was really birthed.
A few years ago I was BROKE. I mean down to my last dollar broke, I mean cashing out the piggy bank at the grocery store coin machine mad they took a $0.38 fee to cash it out kind of broke. I was really struggling.
My friends didn’t know because…um…I hardly have friends that I share those type of things with. I was all smiley on social media, but suffering with severe financial distress.
I had so much debt, and bills, and wasn’t making much of anything at work. I was “technically” homeless, living at my moms one bed room apartment, sleeping on the couch. I was depressed, I mean severely depressed.
I really didn’t know where I went wrong. I think it started after my deployment, I was doing good. I had saved over $20,000, I was working a part-time job, paying my rent, insurance, car note, taking trips, and buying miscellaneous shit.
Then it all came crashing down. Well actually I wasn’t doing what I needed to do to prevent what happened. First, I started to get behind on bills. Then all of these unexpected expenses started hitting me. Things I thought I could handle at first, new tires, my brother went to prison so I was buying all types of things for his kids, paying my school money in order to enroll so I can in return get a refund check once the military paid (but once the money came back it went to another set of bills), putting money on my brothers books, phone cards, giving my mom money when she needed it, and the list goes on and on.
When I didn’t have anything left no one was around to help me get back up. I had become a zombie to life, work, pay bills, work, go to class, skip class to work so my check can be bigger so I can pay my car note, skip class so I can work and pay this insurance, skip class so I can pay this rent. So much pressure I truly felt like jumping out of a window. My grades were low, my pockets even lower.
Then my mom suggested I stay with her a few months to catch up on bills and get on my feet. I didn’t want to but I thought, “What else can I do, I’m drowning in bills?” So I put my things in storage and moved to my moms small one bedroom apartment. Things started to get a little better except now I had to deal with my mom tripping, and try to help her with her financial situations, plus she was pre-menopausal.
I spent a lot of days and nights just sitting in my car thinking about how to change my situation, thinking about how I got in the situation in the first place. Plus, I just wanted to have peace. So I’d sit in my car and talk on the phone, I’d sit in my car and listen to music, I’d sit in my car and read books. One day while sitting in my car- I kid you not- a tow truck pulled up behind me and snatched my baby away. I was devastated. The only thing (material possession) I still had was gone, sitting in a tow lot that cost $200 to pick up plus the amount I owed.
My bank account was always so negative I had no idea that my car note hadn’t been paid in two months. I’d get paid, and my account would still have a negative balance. I had two bank accounts so I’d at least always have some type of money in my pocket, but I totally forgot to change my car note over to the account that was current. Well the joke was on me and my car was gone. I was so embarrassed about not having my car I told everyone I got in a wreck.
After losing my car I realized things needed to change and it was time to get my life together. But, I had no idea where to start.
I sat down, took out every bill I had and wrote the name and balance down on a piece of notebook paper. Then I started calling the companies to find out how to pay the bill, if I could settle it, and if I could make payment arrangements. Some of them said they needed the money “RIGHT NOW” I just wrote down the address and sent them money order payments whenever I had extra money (so it would be like $10, $20, $15, $50 random payments), I never got one payment back. Lol, they accepted every payment I sent until I had no balance (So don’t let them intimidate you).
One day at Barnes and Noble. I was looking for LSAT prep books (my boyfriend at the time was thinking about law school). It was like God was watching over my shoulders. I couldn’t find the book I wanted, looked at the shelf above me and saw a book titled How to Shop for Free.
The book was catchy, baby blue with a pink shopping bag, I immediately picked it up and started skimming through it. I put the book back and proceeded to leave the store, “Ericka, you can’t afford it.” As I got closer to the door I turned around and said to myself, “You are broke, this book is going to show you how to shop for free (whatever that means), you don’t have a choice but to at least try……
I’m pretty sure I’ve experienced every (most) type of financial setback, I have more stories to share. If you need someone to talk to, need advice, need resources, need someone to push you to get your life together I’m here to help. I’m just an email away, firstname.lastname@example.org. Also remember the United Way has plenty of resources available just dial 2-1-1.
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