From 4 Mustangs to 4 Jobs and Paying Off Debt
Today I have a debt-free interview from Matt at thedollarhackers.com who racked up a bit of debt including some student loans and 4 Mustangs! Through taking on a lot of extra work, he’s been able to make a big dent in his debt. Enjoy!
1. How did you get into debt? How much did you have and how long have you been paying it off?
I got into debt because I went to an expensive college that originally awarded me a presidential scholarship, but eventually dropped it (NOT due to my performance). This was apparently, I would learn later, a tactic used by the university since our semesters were quarters. The office knew our credits wouldn’t transfer and we would find the money. I ended up walking out with about $65-$75K in student loans.
I was taking 20+ credits in a 196 credit program with no job, BUT I wanted a new computer to get my production company running. I financed that. Then, out of school, I was working 70+ hours a week without overtime at an IT job. I crashed a car that I owned in cash after a 36 hour work shift and a 5 hour drive to and from Harrisburg that same day. I had no cash.
I had just broken up with my, then, girlfriend (who…plot twist…is currently my beautiful wife) and I didn’t like how the crushed up bumper looked, so I drove 80 miles to buy a yellow Mustang…which was stick shift. I learned how to drive stick shift on THE WAY HOME. I ended up crashing that thing 3 months later on a pole in a parking garage after a cylinder misfire, cracking the axle.
I, again, “fixed the problem” by rolling the repair and the car value into a trade-in for a new car. I later upgraded to a new Mustang after I received a promotion at work. Do you see the pattern here? 3 more cars later and a ton of credit card debt (partying, going out to eat, electronics, you name it!), I racked up an overwhelming and debilitating $102,000 in debt.
I’ve been paying it off aggressively for 2 years now.
2. When do you plan to be debt free?
I will be debt free within one year from the date of this posting. You can quote me on it. There is simply no greater calling in our lives then to have the ability to pursue the callings we have within our hearts and to meet the challenges we face HEAD ON.
3. Why did you decide to start paying off debt?
Well, That girl I broke up with in Question #1? I loved her. I still love her. I married her. I decided that if I want to be a good father to her children, if I want to have a prosperous marriage, and to be able to go where many dream of, but few can go, that I need to immediately OWN my finances. I also plan to make my first million by the time I am 35 years old.
4. What methods have you used to help you pay off debt?
I run three companies, work two jobs, and sell literally everything in sight on eBay. Where does this tenacity come from? It came from an honest conversation between me and my wife (this can be done between yourself and a journal btw as well). The conversation was an honest one. I went to school for music and I love coffee.
While I have written orchestral arrangements for Grammy nominated artists and toured the world with live concerts (50+ cities), I am sitting and writing this from my small room where I report remotely to work managing financial systems for corporations. That’s good money, but it’s little personal reward. The ONLY way to pursue my passions is to free up capital.
I have cash flowed thelegendarycoffee.com and all of our roasting equipment.
I currently have 1,000 lbs capacity and growing. I started roasting coffee on my parents’ stove top and now am servicing small businesses in the area. I just simply decided on something and MADE IT HAPPEN. Get a plan folks. Find something you love, that people will pay you for. Then, buy a copy of the $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau and follow this book as a literal blueprint and go make some extra money.
5. What has been the hardest part of paying off debt?
Honestly? I like nice things. I like craft beer. I like good steak. I like making my wife happy. I like going on trips. I like cars. BUT, my wife and I are on the same page. We will HAVE ALL OF THOSE THINGS. But first? First we need to clean up the mess. Then we can do whatever we want later. Truly.
6. You said that you went from 4 mustangs to 4 jobs! That’s some serious sacrifice. What kinds of jobs did you take and why did you decide to take on all that work?
One time I dressed up and set up carnival games for kids for $200 for the day. I did that for months on end and even had the awkward pleasure of setting one of these up at a former teacher’s house…That was fun. “Matt! 🙂 Didn’t you go to school for music? What are you doing here?” I just smiled and said “Making money.” They laughed and said they understood.
I have crawled through ceilings in hospitals running computer networking cables, been kicked in the face by doctors who have then asked “Are you done yet?” I have sold things that mean a lot to me on eBay. I have taken gigs flying to two cities in 2 days running 17 hour shifts for $500.
I have a coffee company, a small software development company that makes custom web applications for small and medium businesses, I have designed websites, I have worked as a financial systems analyst, I have literally years of Fortune 100 and 500 experience as a business analyst.
I decided this ONE important thing: I WILL NOT BE BROKE. I will take ANY job, I will drive ANY car to get rid of my pride and ego. I drove a car with 240,000 miles on it where the inside door panels were literally falling off. This? This is progress. Getting rid of pride allows us to do what no one else will do so that we can set an example for anyone else that is embarrassed and hopeless with their finances. I said “would it be more embarrassing to set up carnival games or to show people my bank balance?” It was an easy decision. I make FANTASTIC money now. I truly do, but I’ll still cut lawns if it means one less day of debt. I’m hungry. Get hungry.
7. What do you plan to do next when you are debt free?
I’m setting up a party room in a house that I will buy in cash. Lighting setup, large screen, excellent sound system. Then? I will begin to invest in my future.
I could continue to cash flow Legendary Coffee until we are making $1MM net profit every year. I could write a book about how it was not my own strength, but the God given focus that I believe has helped me overcome my personal lack of focus and tenacity. I could travel the world. But, I don’t give too much thought into this. I choose to focus on what I need to do right now, in the next 5 minutes, in the next hour, to continue to move forward in this.
8. What advice would you give to others looking to pay off debt?
Get around people that are doing it. Do NOT think you can do this on your own. That’s literally impossible. You need blogs, books, resources, podcasts, and encouragement from people that escape the social pressures to look or dress or act a certain way. You MUST switch up your environment. Save $1000. Cut up your credit cards (ALL OF THEM), then pay down your debts from smallest to largest. I didn’t reinvent the wheel here. That’s the plan that has helped me.
Feel free to follow my blog at thedollarhackers.com for quick tips and help switching your mindset from broke to stoked about paying off debt. If I can do it? You can do it. Trust the process and go get it.