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September 7, 2014

Bring Out Your Debt!

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My mom told me that the number one thing couples fight about is money.

I naïvely thought that my husband and I would be immune to this type of petty arguing. I thought, we communicate so well, we will never let money tear us up. As it turns out, being broke can be the root of many, many problems.

An empty bank account severely limits what you’re able to do in a money driven society and inevitably creates unparalleled stress.

Thank goodness for credit cards!

My twenties quickly turned into a yoga swiping spree. Yoga teacher training? Yes, please! Week-long workshops at Kripalu and Omega? Excellent idea! Take a month off for a service trip to Africa? YOLO!

Whoops.

Here’s a quote that I love: “Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy a plane ticket and that’s kind of the same thing.” I took that to a whole new level.

These experiences made me a great yoga teacher. I learned more than I ever could have if I didn’t rack up that debt. If I consider teaching my “business,” isn’t there always financial hardship for any business in the first few years?

I went on like this for a while, quietly moving debt around to low interest credit cards until there was no where else to go. As my debt increased, my feeling that I must be a failure increased.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I discovered my husband was doing the same thing.

The more I talk freely about my debt, I’m finding that way too many people can relate to my situation. The average US household has $15,000 in credit card debt.

Eighteen to twenty-somethings are granted credit or loans with very little counseling about what “APR” really means. I couldn’t fully understand the grave I had dug until I was paying $300 a month in interest on a yoga teacher’s salary.

With crippling student loans, credit card and medical debt, how are we supposed to get our finances under control with the kind of salaries that most of us have by the time we wise up? We’re entering a period in history where a middle-class may no longer exist.

A dear loved one recently said to me, “If you want to start a family, you’re going to need to get a real job.” She did not mean to say this maliciously, but it was a deep strike to my heart. It scared me.

I feel I do have a real job—teaching yoga is my highest calling. I think it’s possible to have it all: a job I love and a family I can provide for.

So how do we make it work? The first step is acknowledging the problem. There’s so much secrecy and shame around debt. Nobody’s talking about it. Let’s get it out in the open!

Now that my debt is no longer a secret, I’m slowly but surely getting out of it. I signed up for a debt management program to pay off my credit cards in less than five years. I spent lots of time going through my monthly income and expenses to determine where I need to limit my spending. I have a new level of commitment to my weekly classes and I am already seeing a huge difference in attendance.

There are so many exciting opportunities on the horizon that none of this feels like a sacrifice. The fun isn’t over. In many ways, I feel that it’s just beginning.

From here on out, I need to keep letting the universe know what I want and work toward my goal without worrying so much about how it comes to pass.

I’ll keep giving it my all as a wife and teacher, so that I can leave every situation feeling like I showed up 100% the way I wanted to with absolutely no regret.

I’ll keep doing my yoga and setting the intention to welcome abundance. And at the end of my practice, even though nothing in my life has changed, I always feel a little better.

I know from experience that when I trust in abundance and stop fearing that I won’t have enough, the universe responds in surprising and supportive ways.

There is enough for everyone. The f*cked up distribution of wealth in this world is another conversation, but I feel I can contribute to healing the global problem by healing my own personal insecurities around abundance.

In my heart, I understand that money can’t buy happiness. Though, it certainly limits marital strain when we’re enjoying some financial health.

And I like buying plane tickets.

 

 

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Editor: Travis May

Photo: Wiki Commons

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