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The Origins of Debt Girl

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As VP of Brand + Creative for Ubiquity, Sylvia is a creatively driven entrepreneur with an unprecedented passion for the written word. With over 22 years in marketing and advertising and titles ranging from Director to CMO, Sylvia has worked with mega giants including Intel, Microsoft, IGN Entertainment, Activision, and Apple. She has also worked on projects with Jack Johnson, Mariah Carey, Denise Richards and YMCMB’s Lil’ Wayne and Birdman. Most recently, Sylvia co-produced Broken Eggs, the hard-hitting, feature-length documentary about the looming retirement crisis in America.

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December 1, 2012 at 7:21 pm
Personal Finance

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My name is Sylvia, but my name should really be “debt girl” or “OMG, really?” I’m a 38-year old who, like the coined 99%, has been slammed flat by the economic crisis. I was just one sheep among many with the inability to “JUST SAY NO” during a time when the credit was exploding, the money was flowing, and I was living well beyond my means.

But it was okay, right? Because there was always more where that came from.

Just spend! Mantra, mantra, mantra. How’d that work for you?

I had a 401(k). That’s gone. I have a house—in foreclosure. Other personal savings? I live paycheck to paycheck. There’s a divorce in there too.

So where am I? I’m at the bottom. Which is the perfect opportunity to reinvent myself, to become Sylvia Flores 3.0 (2.0 was the horrible aforementioned iteration, steeped in stupidity, in case you didn’t arrive at that conclusion on your own).

What is Sylvia 3.0?

I make about one third of what I made two years ago, have a pile of debt, and debt collectors are lurking around every corner. I hate my mailbox and my phone–passionately! But who is to blame for this? The era of personal responsibility is upon us, my friend. But I have a plan.

The laundry list that has rapidly become my personal commandments:

  • Get out of [expletive-ing – yes, I did just make up that word] debt. I’ve made a list, and I am attacking it. I feel good about the fact that I am even addressing it at all. And let’s be clear, we’re talking Mt. Everest here, not some molehill.
  • MOVE. My house is like—and I am not even kidding you—number 20 within a half-mile radius that is in foreclosure. My house—or rather, the bank’s house, is so underwater, there is no hope. I’ve tried to work with the banks and it’s been an epic runaround (that’s a blog post in of itself). I’m letting it go and moving into a rental at about one half the cost. I’m also moving into an area that has everything near me. Yay walking! Yay smaller carbon footprint!
  • SAVE. I now have a new 401(k) plan and have just started using it! Employer match? Free money and tax savings? YES, PLEASE! That’s part one. Part two is putting emergency money in a savings account or maybe an IRA? Nickeling and diming myself to death is my Achilles heel. I can spend $200 on two bags of groceries, on the most amazing cheeses and wine you’ve ever tasted, but really? And do I really need to eat out five+ times a week? No. As it happens, I am a good cook. And apparently LAZY.
  • Remove impulse from my vocabulary. I am employing a really large pause button to my, “I NEED THAT!” Do I need that? Not really. I want that. Big difference. I need food. I need shelter. I don’t need a pair of $300 boots. Not really. (Well maybe?)

So that’s the beginning of the story. What’s yours? I’ll be back with more of this once-horror flick, turned epic, action sequence.

Stay classy, America.

Sylvia, aka Debt Girl