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Here’s MORE than what’s on the front page (i.e. the longer version)
Hi! My name is Melissa and I became debt-free so I could pursue my dream of meeting Elton John. Becoming debt-free led me to be a financial coach, a speaker, and an author.
I became a fan of Elton’s music when I was in middle school and went to my first concert in 1992. It was such a magical experience for me! I loved EVERYTHING about the concert experience – the crowds, the energy, the music, and the fact that I was in the same space as Elton John! I decided, at that concert, that I wanted to meet him.
It seemed to be the impossible dream. We had no connections to any famous people or anyone in the music industry. And yet, at age 19, I didn’t have enough life experience to think it wasn’t possible. I’ve spent my entire adult life pursuing this dream. You can read more of the story in my book, Building My Yellow Brick Road: Life Lessons from Pursuing a Dream. (available on Amazon)
As of June 2020 I’ve seen Elton John in concert 47 times!
My journey towards becoming debt-free started in 2007 when I couldn’t go to Elton John’s 60th Birthday concert in NYC. This was also the 60th time he had performed at Madison Square Garden – also known as a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
I couldn’t go because I didn’t have the money.
Why? Well, it was a series of events.
I’ve had some form of debt since I was 18 years old and got my first credit card. All I had to do was sign my name on a form and I had a card with a high credit limit and no financial means to pay it off every month. Every time I got close to the limit, I got an increase. It was just automatic.
I graduated from college with over $30K in student loans and I was a High School special education teacher. And, I was determined to live on my own so I had rent, bills, etc to pay. Fast forward a few years and I’m still teaching, I’ve added a few more credit cards but I’m still living paycheck to paycheck, had no savings and no plan for my financial future. I met my husband, he was active duty USMC. We got married and joke that neither one of us married for the money! HAHA!
In 2003, we bought a brand new car for me along with a $300+ car payment. In 2004, we bought a house. We got denied by our bank for a mortgage. Instead of taking a step back and re-evaluating our finances, we got mad at the bank. We found a mortgage broker and got a mortgage – at the cost of an incredibly high-interest rate. We didn’t really know any better then, we were just happy to have that mortgage! My husband was retired from USMC at this point, I resigned myself from teaching. He had an entry-level corporate job and I worked at the local retail store. In 2005, our first son was born and I quit my retail job to be a stay at home mom. We hadn’t planned for this – I had intended to go back to work but the scheduling just didn’t work out.
Also in 2005, we bought my husband a brand new truck with a $400+ a month payment.
In 2006, our second son was born.
Summary: In a span of 4 years we bought TWO brand new cars, a house, and had two kids and NEVER changed our lifestyle to reflect the adjustment in our income.
That’s how in 2009 we finally hit financial rock-bottom. We had $43, 544 of consumer debt – two car notes, six credit cards and my student loan.
The solution? Make more money, right? So, I did. I worked for an MLM company and did very well – sold product, built a team, earned a Cruise. I made extra money.
Did you know that if you cannot manage a little bit of money then you also cannot manage more money?
That’s exactly what happened. Even though I made more money, I wasn’t getting any traction on paying off debt or saving because I was using the same mindset, the same lack of skillset with budgeting, and I did not have a solid plan.
However, I vowed to myself that I would never miss another concert because I didn’t have the money.
And, I haven’t. In fact, once we started FPU in 2010, I had a mission. I wanted to become debt-free so I could have MORE money and the opportunity to see Elton John. Because that’s how I was going to meet him. By going to the concerts. I now average three concerts per year! Most of those include flight, tickets, hotel, etc, all paid for with cash I had saved for this specific purpose.
In October of 2017, I checked another item off my bucket list – to see Elton John in Vegas when I attended my 37th and 38th concerts! Vegas was the only venue where, if you bought a ticket in the first five rows, you got to go up on stage for one song. The first night, I didn’t get up there fast enough and ended up standing at the end of the piano. But, the 2nd night, I was able to not only get up on stage but get to “the spot” right next to Elton!
When he turned around to give everyone high-fives, I stuck my hand out for a handshake and he shook my hand! Fortunately, a fellow fan took this picture and tracked me down after the show!
Being debt-free has given me the opportunity to say YES to life experiences instead of “I wish I could, but I don’t have the money”. What’s the number one thing I’ve learned over the years?
Time and Money are no longerobstacles
to pursuing my dream.
We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day. How do you spend your time pursuing your dream? Giving, saving, spending, planning are all important aspects of personal finance.
I’ve struggled with all of those areas. Which area do you struggle with the most?
*organizing finances *saving and keeping the money in savings *reducing debt *having money for want you want to do *overcoming the mindset blocks that prevent you from managing money well
I teach people who are struggling with any area of personal finance (savings, debt reduction, etc) how to organize and manage their finances to break the paycheck to paycheck cycle, increase savings and reduce debt. The end result is less stress and anxiety about money, having more focus on pursuing your dreams, living the life you’ve imagined, and creating generational change.
My story begins with hitting financial rock bottom in December of 2009. Since then, I’ve not only learned how to manage my money better, but I’ve learned how to manage my time. Often, I am asked, “How do you find the time to do everything that you do?” My answer is simple – I don’t “find” time, I make the time. I live by a scheduled system I have created for my personal life, my business life, and my family life. I control my life, life does not control me.
I am a coach, speaker, and author. I’m a Christian, a wife, mom, dog owner, volunteer, sports fanatic, and a weather nerd. I just an ordinary person living an extraordinary life – the life that I imagined because I chose to go confidently in the direction of my dreams.
I coach the way I live – to use money as a tool to have experiences, not debts. This means creating a budget that works for our family. I’ll teach you how to do that, too! I speak about my story, to encourage and inspire you along the way. My first book, Building My Yellow Brick Road: Life Lessons from Pursuing a Dream is a memoir of the last 25 years I have spent pursuing my dream to meet Elton John, in person.
I believe in the power of discovering your God-given dream, pursuing that and letting nothing stand in your way!
I’ve been building better budgets since 2010, when I started with our own family’s financial mess. Up until that time, my husband and I were living paycheck to paycheck, had no money in savings and no plan for our financial future. I also discovered that we had just over $43,000 of debt, NOT including our mortgage.
We made enough money, we just did not manage it well. We used credit cards for “emergencies” that were not true emergencies. Between 2004-2006 we bought two new vehicles, a house, had two children and transitioned from a two income household to a one income household. We were not financially prepared for any of those major life events.
Are you sick and tired of being worried, stressed and anxious about money? Would you rather use your money to live a life of experiences rather than watch it all go to bills every month?
We were, too. We found hope in the experience my friend had in going through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Course. Although, at first, we weren’t open to really listening to her story.
I didn’t know ANYONE as excited to get out of debt and on a budget as she was – she was “weird” in her thinking, it was different. Have you had the experience of “not being to afford” to do things? Have you said, “I wish I could but I don’t have the money?”
I did. And, I finally decided enough was enough. I did not want money to be the thing that stood in the way of pursuing my dream.
I found my reason to think differently about money and get out of debt. My dream became more important than the debt.
For this concert, I wore a shiny silver sequined shirt! This was WAY outside my comfort zone. (I’m usually a “jeans and t-shirt” person). Do you know what else was way outside of my comfort zone? Acknowledging our financial mess, making a decision to become debt-free, and creating a plan to accomplish that task.
It seemed crazy at the time – getting out of debt and actually following a budget is not the norm of our society. It’s weird and yes, it’s crazy.
But making that crazy decision, led to another crazy decision – I started my own company. I am the sole owner and operator of Melissa the Coach. I’ve learned a lot about helping people overcome their financial struggles since I became an entrepreneur. I’ve learned a lot about myself, too. Mostly that being a business owner is not the only thing that defines who I am. I’m a regular person who lives an extraordinary life.
I want everyone to be debt free and learn how to manage their money so they can use it as a tool to pursue dreams, help others and build a solid financial future. I want that more for others than they want it for themselves. That’s one of the reasons I do what I do as the owner of 1410 Endeavors, LLC dba Melissa the Coach. 1410 comes from 1 Timothy 4:10 “That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.” (NIV) Endeavor is a really strong word that signifies not giving up. I believe that when we choose to be persistent in our endeavors, anything is possible.
I coach HOPE. I speak HOPE. My book is a story of HOPE.
On September 27, 2013, we made the last payment to Sallie Mae and successfully completed part one of our debt free journey – We paid off $43, 544 of consumer debt; 6 credit cards, 2 vehicle loans, and my student loan.
Later that day, we called into The Dave Ramsey Show and did our Debt-Free Scream! I was so nervous and excited to talk to Dave Ramsey! (and yes, they displayed the amount of debt wrong but it’s ok!)
We’ve been debt-free ever since. Since becoming debt-free, we’ve saved and paid cash for two new-to-me vehicles, a complete kitchen renovation, vacation and yes, I’m now averaging three Elton John concerts a year instead of once a year. I’ve been able to take my boys on some amazing experiences (#roadtrips) and we have been able to have financial security.
Most importantly, we give more, save more, and have a true sense of peace about our finances. Things that happen become financial inconveniences, not a crisis. We are able to say YES to opportunities instead of “I don’t have the money”.
Everyone has a story. I believe we are put on this earth to do more than just go to work, pay bills and HOPE we make it to retirement to live the life we’ve imagined.
I believe we are called to LIVE the life we have been given every single day and manage our time and money well so we can live a life on purpose. We are the authors of our life and it’s never too late to yell “plot twist” and totally change the narrative.
I want to hear your story and help you create change –
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Any advice given in regards to finances is based solely on my own experience, self-education and the information presented to me at the time. You are free to consult a certified financial planner or other financial professional for more information, advice or guidance.
Blog posts and other information on this site are for general informative or educational purposes and may or may not apply to your specific financial situation. Blog posts may contain affiliate links which will mean I receive commissions on products or services you order. I only recommend products & systems that I use and love myself. Earning commissions through affiliates helps me keep my prices for services at an affordable rate. Thank you!
Any advice given in regards to finances is based solely on my own experience, self-education and the information presented to me at the time. You are free to consult a certified financial planner or other financial professional for more information, advice or guidance. Blog posts and other information on this site are for general informative or educational purposes and may or may not apply to your specific financial situation. Blog posts may contain affiliate links which will mean I receive commissions on products or services you order. I only recommend products & systems that I use and love myself. Earning commissions through affiliates helps me keep my prices for services at an affordable rate. Thank you!