Being in debt is not fun. I would put being in debt in the same category as low self-esteem, hating on yourself, cheating on your partner and lying. I was drowning in $20,000 of debt with only $5.08 in my bank account.
I was a hard worker, but my bank account did not reflect that. I was putting in 16 and even 20 hours. Yet, I had nothing to show for it at the end of the month.
So after seeing my bank account, I finally got upset and ashamed and decided to take control of my money. Here are seven actionable steps I took to get out of consumer debt, save $10,000, and get my credit to over 700 in less than six months.
I got honest with myself and took massive self-accountability
God was not going to save me. Prayer was not going to save me. No one was coming to save me. I stopped waiting for “God to open doors” until I got a better job to care for myself. I got ruthlessly honest about my money and where I was financial.
The reality is society has us believe that money is not essential. If you care about making a lot of money, you are some demon. So I accepted my new identity as a demon within society. Like everyone else, I also thought that being broke and living paycheck to paycheck was normal and OK. I decided that I did not just want to be normal and OK anymore.
This step took one minute to complete.
I consumed nothing but “Get Out of Debt” and money content for 30 days
I started to read, listen, and drown myself in money content. I heard and read all the bestselling books about paying off debt. I did notice not many people talked about the importance of saving money, so I prioritized saving $25,000.
However, before focusing on saving, I had to get out of consumer debt. That meant paying off all debt besides my student loans. For me, that was almost $30,000.
This took 30 days to complete, for about one hour a day.
I made two lists and a plan: my income list, my debt list, my essential budget, and an action plan
After devouring all the books, podcasts, and articles about paying off debt and money, I decided no dates, no sex, no drinking, and no going out at all. I started to make my plan to get out of debt. I got a piece of paper and calculated my net income and monthly expenses.
I made a list of only my essential expenses that must get paid each month. Then I cut all non-essential items. As a result, I realized I unknowingly spent about $1000-$1500 on non-essential items. My biggest vice was investing in dates, coaching, and online courses.
I made a list of all my debts as well. I chose the debt snowball as my method to pay off my bills. You start with the lowest debt amount and then roll it up to the following debt amount. I also made sure that I paid myself $200 a week to build my savings account.
After paying off my bills, any extra money would also go to my savings. I also invested in debt coaching one-time consultations to ensure that I was on the right track with my thinking and plan.
This took four hours to complete.
I got a six-figure job
After devouring all the “get out of debt” and money content. I knew the only way to speed up the process was to make more money. You can only budget or cut back until you literally cannot cut anymore.
Making more money has no cap.
I hired my friend Delicia Riddle of JDF Career Management Consulting, which does resume writing and interview prep training, to help me get a new job. With her help, I had offers coming in. I had to get better at interviewing. People started side hustles and businesses in many of the stories I read, but I wanted to maximize my job income potential.
I already had a job making $60,000 a year, so I upgraded to another job, making exactly $100,000 a year. I happen to be in the IT field and working in project management, a sub-niche that has a high-income potential.
This took 30 days to complete.
I got a night job
Getting that $100,000 job was not enough for me. I still had the afternoon and night time to make money. So I decided to find a second job that could help me accelerate my debt payoff time. I got an overnight job that covered my essentials and helped to destroy my debt quickly.
I was supposed to work until all my consumer debt was paid off; however, that did not happen. That job was hard on my health, but I knew it was for a short period. It took me to a gross of $156,000 yearly. So I doubled my gross yearly salary in less than three months.
This took three months to complete.
I tracked my numbers weekly
To this day, I have an Excel sheet that I update weekly on Sunday with how much money I have in my checking account, savings account, the debt I owe and credit score. Tracking this number weekly helps me always stay honest about where I am with my money.
This takes less than one hour a day to complete.
I stayed the course and celebrated the small wins
Getting out of debt was an eye-opening experience for me. So many people are OK with being a victim of debt. They might even try to sway you not to pay your debt off. Don’t let their reality come down on your vision and bank account.
You must do whatever you must to stay grounded in your plan. Remember to celebrate the small wins and own your money journey regardless of what anyone might say.
I put it all together
As I look in my bank accounts today, I see four and five figures. I live and move differently because of the new choices and sacrifices I made. The key takeaway is that making more money and tracking your money is the surest fastest way to pay off your debt.
In addition, you must maximize your earning potential at your job and with your time. Once you have money saved, you can start a business. No matter what happens, stick with your plan, and your future self will thank you.
Bertrand Ngampa is the founder of The 1% Man and the host of “The 1% Man Podcast.” He is a best-selling author, high-performance coach, business strategist, speaker, consultant, and Army veteran.