Why Do You Have Debt



Lets explore: why you have debt

There are many reasons why you may have debt, lets count the ways

  1. Shopaholic, overspending on credit cards
  2. Medical bills
  3. School loans
  4. Too little income to afford the needs (and wants of life)
  5. Gambling
  6. Poor money management
  7. Etc, you name the poison

The first step to tackling debt is recognizing why you have it and where it is coming from. You need to know this because ultimately the way you get rid of debt is by a change in mindset and attitude.

So take a moment and consider where your debt is coming from.

In my case, the debt came from being a shopaholic. For the purposes of this series I will cover credit card debt from overspending, but there may be lessons learned that can be applied to other situations.

When you know the cause of your problem it is easier to tackle and remedy. So fellow overspenders – your first step to getting rid of debt is to stop spending money – right now.

With that said, how do you feel? A relief to recognize your problem, I hope so! Now that you are committing to not overspending here are a few actions you should take to make it more real:

  • Cut up all your credit cards except your debit card
  • Call to cancel catalogues you receive in the mail and shop from
  • Shut down any online shopping habits
  • Stop going to the mall to spend leisure time (because it usually leads to shopping)

Now these actions may be hard, but it is essential to do them. Without taking this first step you can not take subsequent actions successfully. Getting rid of debt requires life changing actions. In the end you will be happy that you took the time to address the situation to ensure a future of no debt or the stress that comes with it.

A Lesson on Why Not To Treat Credit Cards Like A Personal Bank



Confessions of a Shopaholic – found via news.com.au (AP image)

Hello Friends,

In my last post I shared where I currently stand – debt free and about to embark on an extended travel adventure to Costa Rica. One contradictory thing you may have noted is the fact that I’m in grad school. So what about that debt you may ask?

From my experience, credit card debt is much more insidious than school debt. Credit card interest rates are much higher and do not return future dividends. On the other hand, school debt is an investment into my future (or at least I hope!).

So at this point in time, while I may be collecting school debt, I have successfully paid off my credit card debt. (Paying off school debt in a quick manner is the next focus of my life after school is over, which of course I will share.) For now, I have genuinely experienced the pain and hardship of credit card debt as well as the freedom and happiness of having paid said debt off.

Before I start explaining how, let me first provide a lay of the land so to speak, so that you can understand what I was up against. First of all, upon finishing undergrad school in 2007 I did what most young graduates did at the time: move out, furnish my new apartment, and shop for clothes like there was no tomorrow. You see I had these grand dreams of being a successful world traveler and never thought that my extravagant spending (without the income to support it no less) would become a future hindrance. Ohh, lessons learned from my youth, if only I knew you sooner!

My spend happy ways of course quickly racked up credit card debt in the thousands. But I was young, ignorant, and trying to figure out to live a happy life while also working an 8 to 5 that absolutely bored me to death. (Yikes, that is a whole other story that maybe one day I will also share.) A year into my post college job and I had racked up about $3,000 in debt. Not too bad you say. However, the point with credit cards is THE INTEREST RATE, that is what really gets you. So that debt was gaining interest on a daily basis, exponentially increasing what I owed.

Another event that occurred a year later was the start of the Great Recession. Possibly the most unsettling thing I have lived through. Luckily the industry I worked in was not instantly affected, it was about a two year lag before the company I was working for actually felt any disturbance of the recession. That was a time of uncertainty, fear, and great unhappiness. Furthermore, my credit card debt was inching up to the $6,000 range, not a good thing.

With credit card debt of $6,000 and a stalled salary, I quickly came to realize the error of my ways. It then took me the next six years to unravel that debt and pay it off once and for all.

Now that you know a glimpse into my world, I will soon share the process of becoming debt free. It is my hopes that you will learn from my experience (including mistakes) and become debt free much quicker than I. 

Making Travel Happen


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Costa Rica Dreamin'

Hello Friends,

Looking back through the archives, I can hardly believe that it is now two years since the last time I posted. You see, many things have changed since that time, but I still have the same dream. To travel. So what have I been up to you wonder?

Well, to be open – I have been working on earning my Master’s degree and getting rid of all my credit card debt. Getting rid of that debt was the most amazing feeling. Keeping it off is even better!

Let me tell you a secret….I have dreamed of traveling for the past seven years, but only in the past two years I have done anything to make it a reality. Getting rid of my debt is now making it possible for me to travel to Costa Rica for an extended trip.

Yes, Costa Rica! Home to the howler monkey, two-toed sloth, beautiful beaches, and friendly Ticas and Ticos. I went once before, for a short trip and fell in love with the relaxed pace of life and beautiful nature.

Now that you have glimpsed into what I’ve been up to and where I’m heading, why exactly am I posting here after a two year absence?

Well, it came to my mind that I should share I how came to be debt free, which I will soon take advantage of to travel with freedom and peace of mind. The process that I took may not be for everyone, but there is always some trick or tip that can be gleaned from my experience.

I offer each and every one of you looking for the freedom to live life to your heart’s content, to check back for informative articles on the process and steps I took. I myself have almost obsessively read any “get debt free” blog or article I came across.

Now that I’ve done it, I know that you can too. 

Fall into Fashion


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Even though it hardly feels like fall with the 97 degree weather, I am hoping that very soon there will be crisp air and cool weather to enjoy wearing fall clothing. This outfit I put together for a fun, fall day out enjoying the sights of your favorite European city.

Trip to Europe in Fall

Sunday in Pescadero


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Ever since visiting Pescadero the other month I have been obsessed. Since June I have been back about 3 more times! The town is so amazingly cute and it is the perfect place for a lazy Sunday afternoon.



Lovely fields and gardens of Pescadero.

lunch at Pescadero

Spicy cheese and chipotle sandwich from the Pescadero Country Store along with a delicious natural orange soda.


A beautiful bouquet of flowers I picked up from the Jacob Farm Farmstand that is located in a large barn right when you are entering the town. Also picked up strawberries and some purple bell peppers which I have never seen before.

twilight sky

Last but not least, ended the day with a beautiful sunset.

First Tuesday in San Francisco


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Last week I went to the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in San Francisco, and saw some great art exhibits. Before I go into detail about my visit, if you are ever visiting San Francisco make sure it is the first week of the month. Every first Tuesday of the month you can visit several museums in the city for FREE! A complete list, including many museums that are always free, can be found here. A few notables are the de Young, California Academy of Sciences and Legion of Honor.

Cindy Sherman at SF MOMA

Cindy Sherman

The MOMA currently has an exhibit of work by Cindy Sherman. You can view the exhibit until 10/8/12. I have read about her before, but was pleasantly surprised to see her art in person. She has an amazing ability to really dissect the human nature and pop culture through her photos.

There were many great exhibits including a permanent collection of modern art by a variety of artists. My plan is to visit the de Young and get a dose of American fine art on the next free Tuesday in October.

Legion of Honor – ancient art, European art, photography, sculpture

California Academy of Sciences – planetarium, indoor rainforest, aquarium, natural history museum, animal attraction, earthquake exhibit

Heading to San Francisco, why not check out some art!

{Images via MOMA}

My Search for Dining in Portland


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The Box Social

Image via The Box Social

My search for interesting and recommended places to dine in Portland is not complete by all means, but this is a list of my findings so far.

Little T – artisan bakery selling bread, pastry and dessert. Also serves breakfast and lunch.

Lovejoy Bakers – café serving breakfast and specialty sandwiches all day.

Blueplate Lunch Counter and Soda Fountain – serves lunch daily and also has a soda fountain menu serving milkshakes, sundaes, icecream floats and more.

Screen Door – American Southern cuisine made with fresh and local ingredients. They serve dinner and brunch on weekends.

Beaker and Flask – swanky restaurant serving American style cuisine and cocktails.

The Box Social - a neighborhood bar styling themselves as a “parlour bar” that serves artisanal cocktails, wine and beer.

Interurban – trendy bar/restaurant serving classic cocktails, dinner, and brunch on weekends. They also have a DJ on weekend nights.

Portland seems to have an endless supply of hip eateries and bars. While this list is hardly comprehensive, it gives a small taste of what Portland has to offer. If you have any recommendations please share!


Blog Spotlight with Daniel and Kelly Travel


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Today I bring you the second installment of the Travel Blog Spotlight with Daniel and Kelly of the blog, Daniel and Kelly Travel. Follow them on their adventures on a round the world trip. Right now you can catch their posts as they travel through Western Europe sharing their love of food and adventure.


Daniel and Kelly Travel

Barcelona, Spain via Daniel and Kelly Travel

What first sparked your interested in traveling?

What sparked my interest in traveling was the idea of the new and unknown. Stepping foot in places and experiencing things that I could never experience in my own country. Also, the idea of meeting new people with new ideas and ways of doing things made me really interested in travel too.

First place ever traveled?

The first place I ever traveled (overseas) to was Cambodia and Thailand and for Daniel it was Japan on a study trip with his highschool. Our first trip together was to Vietnam and Cambodia.

Daniel and Kelly Travel

Nice, France via Daniel and Kelly Travel

Have you experienced any long term travel? If so, what helped you make that possible (ie study abroad, volunteering, job, etc)?

We are currently on a one year around the world trip which I guess could be considered long term travel but not really in the sense of studying abroad or volunteering unfortunately because we really would love to do that. We are working for 3-4 months out of the year which is very helpful but other than that it was just a lot, a lot of saving and working very hard before we left on our trip!

Any tried and true tips for saving money while traveling?

I know it was mentioned in your previous interview but cooking and preparing your own food is an amazing way to save money. We have saved so much money from preparing our own food and cooking in the hostel. The amount of people who we speak to while we travel to who have never even been inside a supermarket overseas never realise how easy it is to save money while traveling! Also mentioned was couchsurfing which not only saves you money but gives you an awesome experience. If you can and want to be really tight with money…wash your own clothes! If you do it every couple of days in the sink so the clothes don’t pile up too much it is a good way to save money because while you are on the road every bit of saving helps!

Daniel and Kelly Travel

Istanbul, Turkey via Daniel and Kelly Travel

Top 3 favorite places you have traveled and why?

This is such a hard question because I have loved everywhere we have been and it’s so hard to pick just three!

Cambodia – It was the first country I went to and I instantly fell in love with it. When I went back for a second time with Daniel it was equally amazing and such a fantastic place. I love how friendly and beautiful all the locals are. Even though they have next to nothing they are always so willing to smile and try to give you everything they can. I especially loved Siem Reap for its charm and beauty and of course, Angkor Wat is very close by!

Turkey – Turkey as a whole country was just amazing. We arrived in Istanbul and we were completely in love and every destination we went to was completely different from the last and as equally wonderful.

Vietnam – Vietnam was scary, wonderful, exciting and vibrant all at the same time. We love Asian countries so much and Vietnam was just a crazy amazing place for the both of us. I think it is also one of my favourite places because it was one of the first countries Daniel and I visited together and it made us realise that traveling would always be a part of our lives in some form because it is just too much fun to give up.

What is on your dream travel list?

So many places are on my dream travel list! I would really love to travel around South America and I would also love to go to Tibet, Myanmar, Nepal and there are just too many more! I definitely want to spend so much more time throughout Asia because it is such a unique and diverse area of the world…and it’s cheap so it makes it very handy!

Daniel and Kelly Travel

Halong Bay, Vietnam via Daniel and Kelly Travel

Any travel plans for this year?

We are currently traveling through Western Europe, seeing all the big “Must Sees” before we head off to Canada for the ski season to work at a ski resort. We have a month in November where we aren’t really sure what we are doing but it will most likely either be a road trip through parts of the UK or of the US…still unsure and money permitting of course!

What is your favorite thing about traveling?

Learning. I think at the end of the day most things whether it’s culture, people, friends, ourselves it all comes down to learning. I feel like on this trip we are on at the moment I have learnt so much about the world and how it works and, not even just that, I have learnt so much about me and heaps about Daniel and this is what makes it so great. You are constantly evolving and learning about every single aspect of your life and the place you are in and that’s awesome!

Thank you so much for joining us Daniel and Kelly!

Check out their blog, Daniel and Kelly Travel, here.

You can check out the first of the series with My Friend from Zurich here.

New Zealand


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New Zealand

Abel Tasman National Park

I was reading the Summer issue of Wayfare Magazine when the article about New Zealand caught my eye. It has been my goal to travel to New Zealand ever since I read the book, Slipping Into Paradise: Why I Live in New Zealand, by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson.

Auckland -New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand

New Zealand seems like a dream country full of open spaces, beautiful beaches, mountains, forests, cities and laid back culture. The article I read was about a family that traveled the country by camper van. Rental companies that have fully equipped camper vans to aid you on your journey is the perfect idea.

New Zealand

Fiordland National Park

Time to rent a camper van and explore New Zealand!

{Images via National Geographic: 1, 2, 3}

Learn a Language Abroad


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I have seen these videos floating throughout the blogosphere so it is possible that you have as well. On the chance that you have not seen them, check out these two videos from Education First (EF). The videos are fun and make you wish you were there. They definitely seem to be geared towards the younger traveler, but that is ok, we are all young at heart :)

They offer 6-11 month foreign language study programs that I would love to attend. My dream is to study French in Paris. It’s the perfect option to live and travel abroad for an extended period of time. The only issue is money…one day I will have the cash to afford this!

In the meantime enjoy these great videos and lets dream about being there.


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