Beer & BooksI got my first credit card when I was 19 and used it to buy books for school.

I also used it to buy cute shoes, pizza and on desperate weekends between paycheques – a cash advance for drinks at the bar. Priorities.

I got used to carrying a balance on my card and would cover the minimum payment and part of the balance – but never the whole thing.

For my 20’s I carried a balance of around $2000 that would cycle up and down but never get paid off. I always thought I’d do it “eventually” – but I never committed to a plan that would get me there.

At 28 I had a full-time job, $14 000 left of $20 000 student loan debt and consumer credit card debt of close to $3000.

I didn’t feel out of control at all (but I kinda was). I had started wanting to buy a house – which just wasn’t feasible at all given my debt situation.

I needed a plan.
Here’s the video for those that prefer video:


The cost of debt

Math_SymbolsI know this is going to sound all “big sister-y” and condescending… but if you carry debt, sit down and calculate how much that debt is going to cost you over time.

Seriously – I know… “math” and shit – but it’s so important to know how expensive carrying debt can be to your bottom line.

Student loans tend to be lower interest loans – but they’re still above prime. (Mine was a fixed rate of prime + 3% – it was roughly 9% for the bulk of my repayment.)

The one I really needed to check was my 18.75% credit card interest. That one convinced me that I needed to make something happen – like NOW.

Carrying a balance of $2000 cost me $30 a month – right off the bat. If I didn’t pay a minimum of $30, I wasn’t even covering all of the interest; which would then be added on to the balance and I would pay interest on THAT TOO.

Oooooh the joy of compound interest. It’s only nice when it’s in your favour.

It took me 7 years – but I systematically starting paying off all of my debt; credit cards first (I have never carried a balance since), then student loans.

I would pay down my debt a fixed amount every cheque until it was gone. Then I would roll that newly released payment into paying down another debt and so on… It gained momentum and I was happy to pay my bills and take care of my responsibilities.

I felt like an adult.

I was happy to be

paying my own bills.


Visual Aids

This one got out of control and turned into a doodle.

This one got out of control and turned into a doodle.

What helps me stick to long-term plans are visual aids. I’m a visual person and seeing my debt represented physically was super helpful and motivating for me.

I’ve included several debt-repayment/savings templates to mark off or fill in as the mood sways you.

You can create art pieces by using paints or paint markers and canvas or paper. Decide how much each spot is worth and fill it in as you repay debt or save up for something special.

The simplicity of the premise makes it easy to come up with whatever style/image or method will work for you to keep committed to the plan.

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This template was based on my bi-weekly pay schedule + monthly money transferred from Keith for his share of the household expenses.

I knew how much I could afford to put towards debt per pay period and set it up like an advent calendar count-down.

After getting into it and seeing the debt go down – it was very difficult for me to stray from the commitment because I’d get out of sync with the dates and miss a crossing out.

The visual act of crossing out became very powerful.



Beginning the debt repayment process.

Beginning the debt repayment process.


Finished!! It felt so satisfying to cross off that last box.

"Right click" to download and "save as".

“Right click” to download and “save as”.




Financial adulthood

MoneyRepaying debt, saving for big purchases and living within our means is all part of financial adulthood.

As a soul first biz owner, the other side of that coin is valuing our time, skill and expertise and demanding reasonable payment in return.

There are a lot of ways we can structure our expected payments. The links below cover several different options that are also good reminders to not accept less money than we are worth, or forget all the expenses involved in our soul first creative biz:

We are creating valuable work that is needed in the world – Lets get paid for that value and flex our fine financial adulthood muscles.


To all the young 20-somethings out there that think not getting a credit card is a smart financial move – it’s NOT.

Having and using a credit card responsibly (paying off your balance every month is ideal), will build your credit rating and provide a financial institution with a healthy record of your repayment history.

We don’t build a credit history without getting credit and proving that we’re responsible enough to pay it back on time.

An aversion to credit and paying cash for everything – although a seemingly smart and frugal financial decision; will turn you into a giant zero credit score when you try to get a mortgage to buy a house or a loan to buy a car or invest in your business.

Just saying.

(Brought to you by several real-life conversations with 20-somethings that wanted to be smart about their money.)


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