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Lessons from a woman who climbed out of $187,000 debt

Lucy Dean
Pictured: Australian woman Simone Milasas, Australian money and calculator suggesting debt. Images: Getty, supplied
Simone Milasas has escaped $187k debt. Images: Getty, supplied

Simone Milasas can still remember when she discovered she was $187,000 in debt.

In 2003, she realised that while drinking in the good life - bottles of champagne and weekends in Melbourne - she’d ignored her finances.

"It wasn’t until I got real and sat down and realised that no one was going to fix this debt situation for me. I need to make the effort and take action to change it,” she told Yahoo Finance.

“So I poured a glass of wine, looked at my bills, added them up, got the picture of everything I owed and that’s the moment I realised I was $187,000 in debt.

“I was shocked when I added it up, and that was the moment I realised if my life was going to change and get better, I could not ignore this anymore.”

Within two years, she’d hauled herself out of debt, and now, 16 years later, she’s a business leader, financial coach and author of Getting Out of Debt Joyfully.

How to get out of debt

These are Milasas’ tips on how to get out of debt:

Take action

I took action and made the demand of myself to change the situation, and not ignore the reality anymore,” Milasas said.

Keep creating

It’s good to ask: “What can I add to my life?”

Milasas didn’t stop creating just because she was in debt, instead writing a book, doing seminars and investing.

Watch your limiting mindsets

“If you have concluded that you have to work hard for money, you will always work hard for money. You have decided it is so. It will be so.”

This means shifting your mindset: why not consider investing to earn some passive income, rather than earning all your money through work?

Do what makes you happy

It sounds obvious, but Milasas said people often believe happiness follows money, when it’s actually the other way around.

“Money follows joy. Joy does not follow the money,” she said.

“If you’d like to have more joy, start doing what you love. Don’t decide that there’s no way that what you love will make you money. That’s a conclusion not a question.

“Get out a notepad and begin writing down everything you love doing. It doesn’t matter what it is. Cooking, gardening, reading, walking the dog, talking to people.”

Here, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t matter whether this has value to others or not.

“If it’s fun for you, put it on the list. Keep adding to it over the next days and weeks. Then take a look - and ask yourself, are you doing enough of what you love?”

Do whatever it takes

This could be driving Ubers after work. As Milasas said, nothing will change if you stay at home watching TV every night.

Be willing to have money.

“When I tell people, ‘You have to be willing to have money,’ most people look at me like, ‘Duh. Of course. Everyone’s willing to have money.’

“It’s actually not true. Most people are willing to spend money, but few are willing to have it. When you have money, you don’t have to spend it. You may invest it but you don’t spend it.”

Put 10% away of everything that comes into your life

Honour yourself by putting aside 10 per cent of all money that comes into your life, and don’t touch it.

Milasas said it’s critical to understand that the having of money, not just the spending of it, is critical to reshaping your financial life.

Buy things that have intrinsic wealth

“By that I mean that by nature of what they are, they have value,” the author said.

“For example, gold, silver, antique jewellery will hold their value and increase over time. I bought a necklace made from mabe pearls. They are now pretty much priceless because the oceans are not producing mabe pearls any longer.

“You don't have to spend a lot of money to start building intrinsic wealth – buying antique spoons made of sterling silver, or a silver jug could be a great place to start – and when you buy things like that, you are also bringing beautiful things into your life, which adds to creating a sense of wealth in your life.”

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