“Ja’Net do you want to go to New York with us?” “No.” Ja’Net you want to go with us to New York? “No.” The word “no” became a familiar part of my vocabulary. A word that my family and friends heard a lot during the time that I was paying off $50,000 of debt in that two years.

Before this time I was used to the word “yes!” Especially when it came to travel. I said “yes” to Dominica, Barbados, New York, Vegas, Jamaica, Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Miami, Orlando, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Aruba, and much more. What I didn’t realize is that during my time of “yes” there was a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. The bomb exploded the day I lost my job. That day reality set in and I knew that I was not living the life I wanted to live.

Yes I had a career and all the bills were being paid each month, but I was up to my eyeballs in debt. I was in a lot of debt and I was ignoring it because at the time it was much more important to have fun. More important to treat myself. It was a false sense of reality and it was scary when it all came crashing down. The day that I was laid off I made up in my mind that I would start to create the life I wanted and not the life that I thought the world wanted me to have.

The world wants us to get a good job, get married, buy a house, buy a nice car, have a family, and spend money to make ourselves happy. That mentality almost broke me financially. I needed a new mentality and that new mentality would make sure that I thrived financially. For the two years that I was paying off the debt I built that mentality and I have continued that mentality to this day.

After my financial journey it was obvious that I wanted to say “yes” to different things. Yes! To a business where I travel the world speaking on stages and helping others with their finances. Yes! To spending more time at home with my family during the summer because I don’t work a typical 9-5. Yes! To being able to travel without the worry that debt is piling up.

I am a strong supporter of “build your business around your life, not your life around your business.” This year I decided to take that saying and really put it into practice. I made up in my mind that when I travel for speaking to a city that I wanted to explore that I would arrive a day before or leave a day later so that I could take time to be a tourist.

The first place that I explored is when I had to speak in Idaho. I arrived a day early to Salt Lake City, Utah and drove to Great Salt Lake. This lake is completely salt water and it is surrounded by beautiful mountains. For over an hour I stood in the water and relaxed. That one hour enabled me to give my all the next day to two hundred people.

Recently, I spoke at Palm Beach State College and as I was searching Google for things to do I discovered that South Beach was only an hour away. An hour to Miami is a lot better than the thirteen hours that it would take me to drive their from my house. After I spoke that morning I changed clothes and headed to Miami. I paid $10 for parking, $10 for a beach umbrella, and then spent two hours listening to the waves. Once that was over I headed back to Palm Beach. I ended that trip the next day at a local beach in Palm Beach that was even more relaxing because it did not have all the people and loud music that South Beach is known for around the world.

Life is to short and so I am determined to create the life I want each and every day. Paying off the debt put me on this path because it showed me that I was not living the life I wanted. I was living the life that the world wanted. Now I am able to walk in my purpose, helping others, and enjoy myself all at the same time.

Are you ready to create the life you want?

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International Financial Literacy Speaker and Author

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