Get ready to be inspired!
Every other week or so I bring you an interview about a journey out of debt for motivation that it is possible to live debt free.
Today’s interview is one of my favorites!
Miriam Lilly is a 29-year-old young woman who paid off all of her debt so that she could stop saying “no” to opportunities and start saying “yes” to life.
In this interview, she reveals how she paid off almost $25,000 of debt in 10 months on a $35,000 income and what she’s doing now that she’s debt free. (Hint: she’s not sitting still.)
Here is the interview:
ME: Thank you so much for agreeing to share your story with Our Debt Free Family! Please tell us a little about yourself so we can get to know you.
My name is Miriam Lilly. I’m 29-years-old. I basically live in my car as I travel the country, as well as the homes of friends and family in each state.
ME: It’s great to meet you, Miriam! What made you decide to focus on becoming debt free?
I looked at my life and the steps I wanted to take into full-time ministry, and each time an opportunity would present itself, I would be forced to say “no” because any type of movement was impossible with how tight and “paycheck to paycheck” my finances had become.
When I sat down to face the mountain of debt, I checked how long it would take to pay off the debts via the minimum payments, and it topped 30 years. I thought to myself, “I don’t have 30 years.” That became my personal goal — to beat that time as royally as possible.
ME: That’s a great endeavor! How much debt did you pay off, and how long did it take you?
I paid off the entirety of my $24,649 in debt in the 10 months from June 2013 to March 2014. I just celebrated my first anniversary of being debt free on March 20!
ME: Congratulations!! What kind of debt was it?
Car note, previous car repair debt, and a credit card.
ME: What did you do for work while you were paying off your debt?
I worked as a full-time overnight hotel manager for a 4-star hotel and part-time as a floral design assistant.
ME: What has your annual income been during this time?
My annual income between both jobs was right at $35,000.
ME: Wow! That’s impressive! Did you do anything to increase your income?
I knew that my hotel income was not going to cut the accelerated timeline that I was looking for so I got a second job at a floral shop that I had worked at previously.
ME: Sounds like you were committed to doing whatever was necessary to meet your goal. What other sacrifices did you make?
Just increasing my income wasn’t enough; there aren’t enough hours in the day. So I slashed my spending, but I will say it’s easier to avoid costly items when you are working 16 hours a day!
I went to Costco on my sister’s card and got about $150 in toiletries and essentials….Costco has a great return policy and I knew I could take the stuff back if I didn’t need it. Then I banned Target and Walmart. I promised myself not to set foot inside one again until I was out of debt. I banned entertainment — no Internet, no Netflix, and only gas for the 6-mile trek to work and back.
I ate to the end of my pantry and then ate only rice and oatmeal — no Starbucks! I then wanted to drop utilities so I turned my thermostat off, charged devices at work, and unplugged the fridge. The big kicker was when I sold 20 inches of my hair for $700!
Nothing was going to get in my way!
ME: Wow! You were intense! What are your top money-saving tips to share with us?
Because I was an hourly worker I would look at a particular purchase and think about how many hours at my job it would take to pay for it. Then I would imagine my most hated task at that job and see if it was worth it.
It became really hard to talk myself into buying anything. Meal at Chipotle = an hour at work cleaning rose buckets? Nope. Tickets to a comedy show = 4 hours at the hotel when the power goes out? Not happening.
Second, “entertainment” is not worth paying for. It is far more entertaining watching your balances go down to zero. It’s a rush. I don’t miss television one bit.
ME: Thank you for those. What advice would you give to someone considering starting their own debt free journey?
Stop waiting. Really take a hard look, and stop lying to yourself. Realize that any sacrifice you make now is temporary. The bigger the sacrifice the MORE temporary it is. You can survive ANYTHING you know is temporary — anything.
ME: That is some great advice! Have you made any big purchases with cash? If so, how long did it take you to save up?
As soon as I was out of debt in March I proceeded to put together $11,000 more by August 6th, so that I could take a year off to travel, and road trip to all 50 states by my 30th birthday.
I’m currently on state 36! I’ve driven over 40 thousand miles in 240 days, and every single sacrifice is now a dim memory.
ME: That is amazing! What is the best part about your debt free journey?
I can say “yes” to every single opportunity presented to me. Debt no longer rules my decisions.
Also, I wanted to give back so I have been honored to raise money for the International Justice Mission and the A21 Campaign through my #IHateTraffick campaign. They tirelessly pursue justice for victims of human trafficking across the globe. It’s been incredible to raise awareness and funds for this issue in each state.
ME: That is so generous of you! How can our readers learn more or contribute to your cause?
They can visit https://fundraising.ijm.org/campaign/2824 or http://www.gofundme.com/soshewent.
ME: Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story with us, Miriam? Is there anything else you would like to share?
Don’t give up! Don’t let shame prevent you from taking a real look at your potential. Own it and conquer it!
If you are a single gal, don’t wait for a guy to come and rescue you. Use this time to make deep sacrifices that you may not be able to make when you have a guy or a family.
Set yourself up for success. I want to thank Miriam for sharing her story with our readers. I am truly inspired by how she took control of her situation to live the life of her dreams and help others through her #IHateTraffick campaign.
She realized that her debt was holding her back and made a change. She made sacrifices to meet her goal so that she can now work on her new goal of traveling to all 50 states before she turns 30 on August 6th, 2015.
If you would like to learn more about Miriam and keep up to date on her travels, please check out her blog at soshewent.com and her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/soshewent.
What About You?
Participate in the conversation. What parts of Miriam’s story did you find most inspiring? What advice from Miriam can you apply to your life? Share in the comments below.