If I haven’t made it abundantly clear yet, I’m in a lot of student loan debt. While I still have a 5-figure balance, it used to be a 6-figure balance. I still have a lot of work to do, but I’ve come a long way.

How did I do it? I did what Ben Stein said: I realized what was important to me and what I wanted out of life.

The first step to getting things you want out of life is this: decide what you want. – Ben Stein

Now it’s your turn.

Step 1: Decide What You Want

This notion is much easier said than done. Why is that, though? Why is it that we allow ourselves to remain trapped in a very tiny, yet strong box of self doubt? In order to achieve what you want, you have to toss cookie cutter plans and rigid beliefs about what might happen out the window.

What do you want?

For me the answer is simple. I want to be debt free. The most common response to this bold statement has been, “It’s impossible to pay off $130,000 of student loan debt on a Social Worker’s salary.”

Some other limiting notions that stop people from truly achieving what they want:

  • “I don’t have what it takes.”
  • “I can’t learn how to do that.”
  • “I don’t know what is going on with the current trends.”
  • “Nothing will make a difference.”
  • “I’m too far in debt.”
  • “I don’t have enough time.”
  • “It’s hopeless.”

I’ve made the decision to walk on the wild side and reject the list above. (It wasn’t easy, ask Bryan.) I chose to have a more positive approach and asked myself the question:

“Why do I want to be debt free?”

  • I want to travel and see the world.
  • I want extraordinary experiences.
  • I don’t want to live according to Sallie Mae’s plan (it’s a sucky plan).
  • I don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck for the next 60 years.
  • I want to have a house, a family and the ability to afford them.

Not too much to ask out of life, right? I don’t think so. If you’ve decided to take a leap of faith and jump into the world of fashion flipping, then it’s time to move onto Step 2.

Step 2: Decide What You Need (And What You Don’t)

You’ve decided what you want out of life — that was so easy, wasn’t it? — let’s break it down a little and shift the focus back to the art of selling second-hand.

As noted in my first post, it’s important to start small. Where’s the best place to start? What about in your own closet?

People don’t realize the assets they have hidden in their own home! And once they do, they have a hard time separating themselves from those things.

I find people can easily make $1,000 to $2,000 when they sell their unwanted stuff. – Carolyn Schneider, “The Ultimate Consignment & Thrift Store Guide

Separate Wants vs. Needs

Do you want it or do you need it? If you can’t decide, consider this:

  • If you haven’t used it in 6 months, it’s time to cut the cord and start listing.
  • Ask yourself: Can I live without this?
  • If you can’t sell it at least donate it! The U.S. is one of just a few countries to allow tax deductions for charitable donations.
  • When you start to get emotional about your things, remind yourself about the goals you’ve set.

Whenever I see a dress that would look great on me or a bag that’s just perfect, I remind myself:

For me it’s either this…

Authentic Gucci GG Monogram Crystal Canvas Tote found at the Goodwill for $13.99…and sold for $400.

…or this.

As hard as it was for me to sell that gorgeous Gucci bag (that I got at such a bargain!), when it came down to it, it wasn’t something that I needed. Keeping it would’ve actually been allowing one more thing to stand in the way of what I want, which is freedom from my student studebt loan cage!

So ask yourself: What’s important to you? What’s standing in your way? And what are you going to do about it?

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Welcome to Debt Free Dawn! I'm a social worker by day and second-hand clothing flipper by night (and weekends) trying to pay down $130,000 of student loan debt as quickly as possible. Please comment below with any questions and thanks for visiting my site!