Once Upon a Time in Philadelphia…


One November evening three years ago, after a particularly demoralizing day, I remember standing on a subway platform in downtown Philadelphia and being approached by a homeless person begging for spare change. I had just missed the Septa train by seconds and another one wasn’t coming for another half hour.  I was coming back from a training session for a minimum wage job I was way overqualified for and feeling some type of way about it. It was an all around crappy day. I had no cash so I walked away.  But the man followed me pleading for me to please spare some change.  “I have nothing! I blurted. I’m only days away from doing what you do.”

It was a few months after I was held back from travelling to Rwanda for Peace Corps service.  What I thought was going to be the experience that will define my path in life was taken away from me abruptly.  I was emotionally distraught and financially unprepared.  I had resigned from my position and trained my replacement.  Even worse, my savings were practically non existent.  I slept on a friend’s couch, submitted an average of fifty job applications daily and depleted my savings making sure I did not default on my bills.  Receiving threatening phone calls from Sallie Mae became a regular part of life.  I was college educated, in debt, and broke as a joke.

Finally, after applying for hundreds of jobs and continuously feeling like I was flushing my resume down the toilet, I got a life saver job. I found employment that allowed me to be self-sufficient.  But the sense of anxiety I felt during that time remains.  The experience rearranged my priorities and caused me to redefine my idea of what freedom is. It now means to never ever have to be at the mercy of an employer, lender or any other entity that could have leverage over me.  And so my journey to financial independence began.  

I’m no where near where I want to be.  But I have made some great strides.  First off, Sallie Mae had to go! And so she went. Obviously that was easier said than done.  A year later, I bought a car with the good credit I got from paying that off.  A year after that I put money down on a condo and became a homeowner at 25.  I want to share with you the highs and lows of the progress I’ve made so far.  I also wanna talk about my future plans for financial independence.