Philadelphia-based financial services professional Shaquana Watson-Harkness has accumulated over $ 169,000 in debt. In one Instagram post, she mentions that she has accumulated over $ 20,000 in debt traveling the world.
On New Years Eve 2018, Watson-Harkness resolved to stop using credit cards to finance his lifestyle. Even though she admitted that it was difficult to break her long-standing habits, she was ready to do whatever it took to take control of her finances.
Less than two years after making the commitment to get rid of her debts, she paid $ 169,000, according to a CNBC grow acorns article.
During her wealth-building journey, Watson-Harkness received shocking news. In November 2019, her employer handed her the infamous pink slip, leaving her without a full-time job. It was the third time Watson-Harkness had been fired.
“Always prepare for the unexpected and keep multiple streams of income outside of your daily work,” Watson-Harkness said Black company. “The multiple streams of income can be passive income such as investments or working on your business as a side activity.”
Philadelphia woman tackles debt
As a financial services professional, Watson-Harkness was the person people turned to for help with their personal finances. She was happy to give advice, but she was also ashamed because she was facing her own financial difficulties.
Watson-Harkness had his first interaction with credit cards in college, swiping his first card to cover a spring break. She unknowingly ignored one of the main rules for using credit cards: don’t maximize your card. She also underestimated the cost of student loans which turned into a monthly payment spread over a long period of time. Over the next 20 years, she continued to rely on her credit card for her lifestyle purchases and increased her debt load.
But what doesn’t break you only makes you stronger. These lessons have become the basis of his success today.
“I managed to build an investment portfolio worth six figures while paying off my six figure debt,” Watson-Harkness said on Instagram. “I made mistakes, took lessons and ultimately perfected my process.”
Spend less and save more
His first step towards financial freedom was to recognize his problems and then change his ways.
In February 2018, Watson-Harkness enrolled in a financial management course. As she began to change her mind about spending and saving, she began to make progress in her finances. She created her first budget and debt repayment plan to jumpstart her goals.
Then she tracked her expenses. She noticed that she was spending $ 3,000 a month too much. She adjusted her spending habits to avoid living paycheck to paycheck. She notably reduced her spending by using coupons and savings strategies, reducing her grocery bill from $ 800 to $ 500 per month.
Two months later, she implemented the debt snowball method. This strategy focuses on paying off smaller balances first and then scaling up to tackle larger debts. In 15 months, she paid off $ 160,000 in credit card debt, the mortgage on a rental property and student loans. She even started paying herself first and funding her retirement accounts.
“The biggest mistake I made before creating my first budget was never to pay myself first,” Watson-Harkness wrote in the CNBC article. “I’ve always paid my bills and everyone else before I put any money in my savings or put anything aside for personal purchases.”
Helping Others Reduce Debt and Build Wealth
Watson-Harkness understands the impact debt can have on a person’s life, especially when you lose a job. Fortunately, she was able to repay the majority of her debt before she was laid off. Now she is committed to helping other women build a financial cushion.
In December 2019, Watson-Harkness decided to use their financial management experience to start Dollars make cents – – a financial education company that helps millennial women achieve financial independence.
“Today, through my business, I strive to help women understand that wealth creation can be achieved with consistency, discipline and having a vision for how you want to live your life at the future.”