The down and dirty debt numbers.

Money is weird. It doesn’t seem like it should be. At its simplest form, money is a tool of exchange used to facilitate transactions. It represents value and allows us to trade goods and services without the need for direct bartering. Debt is even weirder.

Simple, right? 🤦‍♀️

Money can seem pretty weird to folks for a bunch of reasons. Sometimes it’s all tied up with feelings, like stress or even shame, about our finances and what we can or can’t afford. Plus, a lot of us never really got the lowdown on how money works – like budgeting or investing – so it can feel like navigating a maze blindfolded. Then there’s the whole crazy system of banks, loans, and interest rates, which can make your head spin if you’re not into all that financial jargon. And let’s not forget about the inequality stuff – seeing some folks swimming in cash while others struggle can leave you scratching your head. Plus, our culture’s always pushing us to spend, spend, spend, which can lead to some serious money stress. And don’t get me started on the rollercoaster of economic ups and downs – that uncertainty can really mess with your head. So yeah, money can be a real head-scratcher, but with a little know-how and a healthy attitude, we can all get a grip on our finances and maybe even have a little fun with it along the way.

I’m going to do something that society as whole thinks is taboo: talk about money. And even more, I’m going to share with you my numbers. Why? For one, I know that holding myself accountable is the only way I get things done. It’s the way I operate, society be damned. Does it look like airing my dirty laundry? I suppose. I can tell you I’d rather be out of this cavern of debt MORE THAN I care what people are going to think about HOW I’m doing it.

Soon you’ll find a spreadsheet of a bunch of numbers and interest rates. I went in to every single account we owe money on, found the balance and interest rate, put it in to my Debt Destroyer + Budget Boss spreadsheet and away I went.

Drowning in Debt Information.

There is so much information about money out there. Websites, blogs, podcasts, books, articles, social media accounts. Just like diets, every single school of thought has the potential to work, if there’s follow through. I have read and listened and received enough information for a lifetime but like they say, “If information was all it took, we’d all be thin and rich.” So, a couple of things to note about MY experience and the work ahead:

  1. Good Debt vs Bad Debt. I understand the difference, however, in my party animal brain it all makes me FEEL icky.
  2. Business Debt. We own a number of small businesses so we have more debt than the average bear. I think that’s supposed to make me feel better. It doesn’t.
  3. Shock & Awe. Believe me when I tell you that I know how big these numbers are. It took me the equivalent of breathing in to a paper bag for a few days to look after I was done. But that’s the thing with authenticity and honesty with yourself; it’s fucking scary and sad and disappointing and regretful and desperate. But when we pull all of those covers off, the real work can begin. I’m over the shame of it but it might make you feel better about your situation and I’m cool with that.
  4. Budgets vs. Spending Plans. One of the things that I have avoided during my 35+ years making money is telling it where to go. It’s always just been the party girl doing whatever she wants, whenever she wants. Well, this party girl is tired. I listen to a lot of podcasts and The Rachel Cruze Show (Dave Ramsey’s daughter) is one of my favorites. She simply changed the term budget to spending plan and that’s all it took for me to change my mindset. I’m not depriving myself of things, just doing them differently.
  5. Technology. There are thousands of apps and tools out there. I’ve tried Mint, EveryDollar, YNAB, Nerd Wallet and Monarch and the only thing I learned from all of them is that they don’t work FOR ME. I spent so much time and energy filling them out only to leave them like a bunch of abandoned socks without their matches in the dryer. I’ve always turned my nose up at spreadsheets, I am right-brained to the hilt, BUT I tried my hand at learning the magic of them, worked hard to get it right and fell head over heels into a financial love affair with Google Sheets. (Those that know me reading this, you can pick your bottom jaws up off the floor now.)
  6. Time. My husband and I were chatting about this over lunch the other day (we went out for Mexican…I’m not a monster) and I told him if we pay what we’re paying now every month until 2031 we will be completely debt-free; first and second mortgages (house), commercial buildings, cars, medical bills, credit cards…everything. That’s 7 years. I’ll be 52, he’ll only be 49. That’s retirement speak right there. And when you see how much we’re paying monthly in payments, you’ll understand what I mean. This is why I’m excited, motivated and grateful I took my head out of the sand. I also understand that while 7 years doesn’t sound like a long time, that’s 2555 days of consistent work and dedication. Are you going to hang out with me for the next 2500 days?

Here’s the down and dirty and this might annoy some of you, but yes, I’m going to make you sign up for an email list to get it. Not because I’m about to sell to you or send you a bunch of shit you don’t want, but because there are some trolls out here and I have no interest in giving personal information to people that aren’t actually interested. I promise the first email you get will have all my down and dirty digits.

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I’ve only been in debt for about 28 years.

Considering I’m almost 46 that’s kind of a long time.

Ever since I could make money, I spent beyond my means. As a hard worker, I could never really understand why I was constantly behind on bills; I should have been rolling in it.

I’ve had many close calls when it comes to being broke but then something crazy happens; a refund check from the dentist would show up, an early birthday check from my dad, a long-lost insurance reimbursement. I have the Universe to thank for my life just always ‘working out’. Don’t get me wrong, I love it that way, but it’s risky.

AND, I’ve had enough almost-rock-bottoms to know that when it manifests physically in my body or infiltrates in to my relationships, I know it’s time to pay attention. This is exactly how I got sober; it wasn’t rock bottom but I skipped along it for a while.

And so, now I’m here on Day 1 of a Debt Diary. Let’s get mighty real here because being totally honest is really the only way I know how to bring the monster out from under the bed. That monster for me, and probably most of us with self-medicating and/or money issues, is shame. There’s no doubt I have made money mistakes to get me to where I am today however, that IS what they are. Mistakes.

Mis-takes. We get re-takes.

I am going to share all the numbers and my plan but first I’ll give you a little history.

I am the daughter of a financial planner. In my dad’s defense, he tried to teach me all the right ways to spend and save with all of his yellow legal pads, four of the same sentences he said over and over (that I mostly rolled my eyes at), a demonstration of compound interest, the percentages of each paycheck that should be going to savings, bills, housing and investments, etc. He also led by example and can do all the things he wants because he is truly financially free.

I thought I knew better than him.

I didn’t.

As soon as I could (at 17) I moved in to my first apartment with a friend working two jobs and still ended up not being able to cover rent. I got behind, had to crawl to daddy to bail me out of a $740 back rent issue and basically lost a friendship over spending more than I made. Fast forward a few years and I left for Army National Guard Basic training where I left my mom with all my bills and a plea to help me pay off $5000 worth of credit card debt and a real-bad vacuum purchase. I came home and married the man of my dreams who had $20k in the bank and promised me a wrap-around porch. I thought all my money woes were gone…somebody to save and take care of me. Yay.


Our newly-wedded bliss was sprinkled with the excitement of entrepreneurship and big commission checks only to be tainted by a $30k IRS tax bill we didn’t save for and $20k worth of credit card debt that bought what-I-don’t-know. (This was another one of those yellow legal pad lessons I ignored: save 30% for taxes when you’re self-employed. Whoops.) We had to crawl to my in-laws this time and graciously they bailed us out. And then, we bought a house high and took a bath on it in 2008. This time my in-laws bailed us out again by letting us live in their basement for two and a half years with our 6-week old son until that house sold for $30k less than we bought it for. But Dale had a good job and we had few bills so I thought we could get ahead a little.

Not so much.

(Geez. This is difficult to write out. I’m starting to sweat.)

We finally sold our house, moved in to a modest ranch, put some sweat equity in to it and then did a big remodel borrowing the money for that from my mom. When we sold that house we were able to pay her back and put a down payment on a new house (with a porch). We were pretty stretched but not enough to start paying attention.

It was fine.

Within five years we started a wine bar business which included purchasing a commercial building. The fact that I had the balls to even go to the bank made me pretty proud. The business actually made quite a profit during the pandemic and spending was fun so we bought a coffeeshop business. Both of those things fueled my confidence in business ownership enough to open an ice cream shop/candy store, purchase another commercial building and quit my real job. My husband left his real job and we both became 100% self-employed overnight.

The thing that no one tells you about a service based business like a bar, coffeeshop or ice cream store is that over everything else: staffing, rent, cash flow, product, inventory, customers, all of it, the number one energy and money suck are appliances. Freezers, coolers, blenders, panini makers, beer tappers, dipping coolers, microwaves, soup kettles. And the dishwashers. The fucking dishwashers. In less than 4 years I paid over $20k for new dishwashers.

Guess where all of those purchases went?

Right on to shiny, pretty, platinum-plastic credit cards. And because revenue was high and the construction market was great, I thought we deserved a retreat and I convinced us a little cabin 30 minutes from our house would be another successful business venture (AirBnB). So we tied up a significant amount of cash for the down payment and committed to another monthly payment.

Then we sold a business, got a nice chunk of change and instead of saving it or paying down our debt, we sunk it in to another expansion and remodel. I actually think this was one of our better business/financial decisions and we’ve already seen the fruits of that labor, however, it left us very, very house rich and cash poor. And with inflation at 18% over 3 years, our cash flow stopped flowing.

Cue: construction market slow-down because of the interest rates.

Ironically, my 2024 resolution was to pay attention to our finances. I don’t know if this coming-to-Jesus is because I opened my eyes and it’s been this bad before when I had my head in the sand or it just happened to get this bad while I was watching. Either way, I am actually grateful it worked out the way it did.

About a month ago, I could see in my husband’s eyes that he was scared. He came in to the bedroom and he looked so sad and defeated I actually said out loud, “Do you want me to be worried?” And he said, “I think it’s time.”

Even as I write this I just sighed really loud.

It was the wake up call I needed. I knew I would need a plan of action so I followed the steps below:

  1. Called my sister and showed her all of my finances. Everything. I had avoided her help for fear of judgement for too long. She’s been through this, on a smaller scale, but understands the behavior changes that are needed. And she loves me so she just wants me to be happy. I know that now.
  2. I wrote down every single thing we owe and since January I have been tracking our spending habits so May will begin a new spending plan (aka budget)
  3. We had a serious conversation and decided selling the cabin was the wisest decision for us. We hope to get around $35k back after all taxes and closing costs.
  4. I closed out my 401k and a $20k is on the way.
  5. We toyed with the idea of asking a parent for another loan to get out from under the extremely high interest rates of the credit cards but in the end, I NEED to do this on my own. Getting bailed out, even if it will save us money or is deemed the “smart” thing to do by society standards, will not solve this issue. I have 14 paragraphs of proof above here. I had to beg my husband to trust me to do this. That was hard. Staying in debt is harder.
  6. I started taking intentional action; from the littlest things to the more aggressive. I saw a penny on the floor of our cabin that was just about to be picked up by the Roomba. I stopped it, picked it up and put it on my phone so I could take it home. I took the change cup from my desk and traded it in for bills: $42 that has just been sitting there on my desk. I folded it neatly and in order and put it in my wallet. I started this journal in hopes that putting it out to the world wide web will bring the accountability I need to keep going. We cleaned the cabin, made some repairs and brought personal items home in preparation for listing it this week.
  7. I reframed my mindset around self-care. Financial security is one of the values I have been waiting for from someone else almost my entire life. I don’t need to be saved. I’ll be doing the rescuing myself from now on.

Here are the big picture steps you can use to customize your own plan:

  1. Continue Open Communication: Maintain open and honest conversations with your support system about your finances. Their support and understanding can be invaluable.
  2. Consolidate Your Debts: Consider consolidating your high-interest debts into a lower-interest loan if possible. This can make repayment more manageable and save money on interest over time. Beware that this is not a “bail-out”.
  3. Create a Detailed Spending Plan: Utilize the information you’ve gathered from tracking your spending (start tracking now) to create a comprehensive plan until your debt is paid off. Allocate funds for essential expenses and prioritize debt repayment.
  4. Utilize Windfall Funds Wisely: If you come in to a big chuck of change, use it wisely.
  5. Avoid Further Borrowing: Resist the temptation to seek additional loans, even from family members, to address your debt. Focus on managing your existing debt responsibly and developing healthy financial habits.
  6. Embrace Small Wins: Celebrate small victories along the way, such as finding spare change or converting it into bills. Every effort counts towards your goal of financial freedom.
  7. Stay Accountable: Journal your progress and share your journey with others for added accountability and support. Consider joining online communities or support groups focused on debt repayment for additional encouragement.
  8. Prioritize Self-Care: Remember to prioritize self-care throughout this process. Recognize that financial security is a personal responsibility, and empower yourself to take control of your financial future.
  9. Seek Professional Guidance: Consider consulting with a financial advisor or debt counselor for personalized guidance and strategies tailored to your specific situation. They can offer expert advice and help you develop a realistic plan for achieving your financial goals.

By following these steps and remaining committed to your goal, you can gradually work towards becoming debt-free and achieving greater financial stability. Keep believing in yourself and the progress you’ve already made. You’ve got this!

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably interested in the down and dirty numbers huh? Stay tuned for Day 2.

Good question. It would be weird if I said no. Of course my answer is yes but let me tell you why. And since I love me a good metaphor, we’ll use the “navigating stormy waters” one.

Ladies, imagine your entrepreneurial journey as a captivating voyage across the vast business seas. Now, envision having a business coach as your seasoned navigator, steering you through the waves of challenges and triumphs. Let’s set sail into the adventurous world of investing in a business coach and discover why it’s the nautical journey every female entrepreneur deserves!

Cheesy enough? Keep going, it gets worse…I mean, better Don’t worry, I’ll translate.

Charting Your Course: Your Captain in the Business Ocean!

Ever felt lost in the unpredictable tides of business? A business coach becomes your trusted captain, skillfully charting your course through the vast ocean of opportunities. Bid farewell to generic advice and welcome a personalized compass, guiding you through the business seas tailored to your unique voyage.

Translated: One of the key advantages of having a business coach is the tailored guidance we offer. Unlike generic advice found online or in self-help books, a business coach provides personalized insights that directly address your business’s specific needs and challenges. This personalized approach can be invaluable, offering strategies and recommendations that resonate directly with your unique situation.

Navigational Support: Your Lighthouse in the Storm of Entrepreneurship!

Entrepreneurship can be like sailing through stormy seas alone. But fear not – your business coach is the steadfast lighthouse, providing navigational support, accountability, and a beacon of motivation. Picture your business journey illuminated by the guiding light of your mentor, steering you safely through the waves.

Translated: Running a business can be isolating, and entrepreneurs may find it challenging to stay accountable to their goals. A business coach acts as a source of accountability, keeping individuals on track and motivated. Regular check-ins and goal-setting sessions ensure consistent progress and help entrepreneurs stay focused on their objectives.

Weathered Wisdom: Sailing with the Maritime Matriarchs!

Imagine gaining wisdom from those who have weathered the business storms before you. Business coaches bring not only expertise but the maritime experience of navigating the business waters. Prepare to tap into the knowledge of the maritime matriarchs, sailing with the confidence of those who have conquered the seas.

Translated: Experienced business coaches bring a wealth of knowledge and practical experience to the table. They have often encountered similar challenges in their careers and can offer valuable insights on how to navigate obstacles. Learning from someone who has faced similar situations can expedite the learning process and help individuals avoid common pitfalls.

Skillful Seamanship: Navigating Business Waters Like a Sea Queen!

Yearning to refine your leadership skills, communication finesse, or strategic seamanship? A business coach transforms your journey into a training ground for sea queens. Develop skills that navigate the business waters with elegance and strength – because every female entrepreneur deserves to be a skilled sea queen!

Translated: Whether it’s refining leadership skills, improving communication, or mastering strategic planning, a business coach can provide targeted guidance for skill development. This focus on personal and professional growth can have a lasting impact on both the individual and the business they lead.

Harboring Connections: Your Port of Call in the Business Archipelago!

Dreaming of discovering hidden islands in the vast business archipelago? Your business coach is your trusted port of call, opening doors to networking opportunities and connections. Dock in the harbors of success, forge alliances, and sail the business waters with the wind of opportunity in your sails.

Translated: Business coaches often have extensive networks built over years of industry experience. Being part of this network can open doors to valuable connections, partnerships, and opportunities. The relationships forged through a business coach’s network can be instrumental in the long-term success of a business.

Return on Nautical Investment (RONI): Sailing Toward Triumph!

Yes, there’s a cost to hiring a business coach, but consider it an investment in sailing toward triumph. The return on nautical investment (RONI) isn’t just financial; it’s the growth of your navigational skills, the conquest of turbulent waves, and the satisfaction of reaching new horizons. It’s a journey where the payoff is not just monetary – it’s the thrill of sailing.

Translated: While hiring a business coach comes with a cost, many entrepreneurs view it as an investment rather than an expense. The potential return on investment, both in terms of financial gains and personal development, can outweigh the initial expenditure. Successful business leaders often attribute part of their success to the guidance they received from a coach.

Set sail, fellow captains of entrepreneurship, for the decision to invest in a business coach is not just a choice – it’s a nautical adventure! Embrace the waves, the challenges, and the victories. With a business coach by your side, your entrepreneurial journey becomes a captivating voyage – where every wave navigated brings you closer to the horizon of success!

In the ever-evolving landscape of business, the decision to invest in a business coach is a personal one. It requires careful consideration of individual needs, goals, and resources. While the cost may be a factor, many entrepreneurs find the benefits of personalized guidance, accountability, expertise, skill development, networking, and overall return on investment well worth the expense. Ultimately, the value of a business coach lies in their ability to unlock untapped potential and guide individuals on a path to success.

Let’s break it down.

How is coaching different from therapy? Isn’t that the same as mentoring? What does a consultant do?

The more we understand the similarities and differences of these professions, the more likely we can make sure you end up working with the right practitioner for your situation. The post is dedicated to untangling the intricacies of each, so that we can ensure you’re getting the best care.

Coach vs. Therapist

The biggest difference between a coach and a therapist is that a therapist is a licensed health professional and a coach is not.

Note: Although there are many accredited coaching programs, the coaching industry is not regulated by a governing body so anyone can just decide to call themselves a coach. It’s important to do your research before hiring someone, and asking about any certifications and trainings that they might have. (I am currently working toward my certifcation by the International Coaching Federation through the ICF accredited Mind Rebel Academy.)

While it’s common to work with a coach an extended period of time, sometimes for years, a therapist will typically work with someone for an even longer term. Therapists focus on healing and resolving past traumas – coaches are much more future-oriented, and focus on getting clients to a successful outcome or goal. As a healthcare professional, a therapist is also able to diagnose patient conditions, whereas a coach cannot.

Coach vs. Mentor

A mentor can work with a client for a prolonged period of time, sometimes for a lifetime! Mentors can have a more informal association and communication with their ‘mentee’, and are likely to meet in public places like coffee shops and office settings (a coach would not, as public places would break confidentiality and might prevent the client from digging deeper and really opening up).

One of the defining features of a mentor is their first-hand experience. You might look up to a mentor and want to know how they got to where they are. Mentors will share their guidance, insights, lessons learned, and wisdom. A coach, however is able to work with clients in a variety of domains and industries, even without having personal experience themselves.

Whereas coaches are future-focused and therapists are past-focused, mentors are usually present-focused. They will direct, advise or teach on ‘in-the-moment’ problems that the mentee is currently experiencing, and the present will often determine the topic of most mentorship conversations. Coaching and mentoring can be done together and can be quite a beautiful relationship between the practitioner and client.

Coach vs. Consultant

Consultants are clear experts in their field, and are called on for their professional or technical advice. They work to understand the problem and offer solutions. They might share their process, method or system with you. They will aim to give you the “right” answer, or at least several possibilities. They will provide a short-term answer to a very specific problem.

Which one is right for me?

Of course, his depends on what you’re looking for.

Are you looking to heal past trauma? Are you interested in reaching a specific goal, either personally or professionally? Is your issue directly related to a specific subject or field of expertise?

A coach is flexible and able to coach on a variety of topics and challenges (even if they haven’t experienced it themselves), because they’re not there to give advice. They’re not there to fix your problems for you. They’re there to work with you, the client – to help you grow and develop. As a result, they empower you to take control of your life and actions, so that you can reach your goals. They get deep into the root of your struggles and discover what’s truly in the way. A coach is your partner, your equal, who will guide you to discover your own solutions that are best for you. They will assist and encourage you, but also challenge you – that’s how the growth happens.

In addition, if you’re looking for a partner to also give advice, pull knowledge from their experiences and nuture your dreams and passion, the coaching/mentoring hybrid is the perfect option.

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i write therefore i am.

Hi, I'm Katy.
Your lifestyle designer and business mentor.

Writing is my way of unwinding and letting my thoughts roam free. Every so often, in the midst of this creative chaos, something clicks, and I'm like, "Hmm, maybe someone else will dig this too." So, I toss it out into the world, hoping it lands with someone who gets it.
I hope that's you.

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