My name is Shawna Robinson. I am a single mother of a beautiful 4 year old daughter named Ava. I started financial coaching July 3, 2012 with Justin Bennett. When you feel like you hit rock bottom, you only have one place to look, and that is up.
I emotionally and physically felt like I was at rock bottom when I reached out to Justin in June of 2012. I was a newly single mother who was so consumed with an abusive/dysfunctional relationship with my ex (Ava’s father) that it caused me to lose a $50,000 job, with great benefits and work schedule. I was so distracted by our problems that I made a critical shipping error at work, and resulted in being terminated in January 2012.
I have never felt more alone than at this point in my life. I contemplated giving Ava to her father, because I couldn’t afford to support Ava, figuring I just lost my job. I applied for unemployment, but only receiving a fraction of my income really put a toll on our lifestyle. I had to do a lot of soul searching and realized that Ava is better off with me than her father. I say this because financially he was worse off than I was, and he didn’t know how to be a father. He was abusive to me, why would Ava be any different.
I had so much anger and frustration towards everyone in my life. I was so depressed with how my life was. I just wasted 3 years of my life to get to this point in my life? Why would I ever consider dating again…just to be put in this situation again? No thanks. I would call my sister and complain constantly about how I didn’t have any money and how my life sucked. (She gave me a book “My Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey 2 months earlier for Christmas.) She asked where that book was. I told her it was lost somewhere in my closet and I didn’t have time to read it. She said “You have all the time in the world to read this book, and it will help”. I got the book out, and realized that I needed additional help.
I enrolled in Financial Peace University in March 2012. I had to drive 1 hour to the class, and 1 hour home. Many people in the class didn’t understand why I would spend so much time and money driving to class every week. Soon, they realized my situation, and knew I was in the right place. I have never felt more accepted than at the Centerville Assembly of God. They didn’t judge me for being a single mother, unemployed, or lost spiritually. I did not have a home church.
I went through the entire class, which ended in May. I thought I was on top of everything and good to go, but I found by the beginning of June, I was lost again. It was around that same time I saw Justin post on Facebook about free consultation. Justin and I have been friends for so many years, that I thought “ehh, why not, I cannot be any worse off than I am now…”
I contacted Justin and told him I was in need of direction in my life. I remember being so scared walking into his office. I knew I had a lot of debt, enough that I was lying to myself. I had credit card debt, car payments, and the dreaded expenses of attending a private college for 4 years. I never created a budget that worked. I was worried that I would be told “You’re in too deep, and I cannot help you”
It was the complete opposite. Justin instantly made me feel comfortable and even told me about a similar client that just travelled to Brentwood, TN to do her debt free scream of $35,000 on Dave Ramsey’s radio show. I thought, okay if she can do this….I can do this. Justin helped me list out debts, even the ones I denied having to everyone else. It was an emotional visit. I remember looking at how much money I owed everyone and broke down. I started bawling like a baby and saying to myself “look what you’ve done to your future….it’s nothing… you have nothing to show for 27 years.” Justin saw me crying and said “Your financial future starts today. I will be here for you and help you in any way possible”
My daughter deserved a responsible parent emotionally, physically, and financially. Today was the beginning of the rest of my life. I knew Ava would never be able to depend on her dad for financial assistance. It was up to me. I had to step up and take responsibility for my past actions and prevent it from ruining me and my daughter’s future.
I hated to spend the startup fee that Justin charged…but he was true to his word. I was able to call him at 7 in the morning, 7 in the evening, Facebook, and emailing him so many random questions or scenarios. He truly was a lifeline for me during this time in my life.
Soon, I was giving every dollar a destination. I started budgeting for everything. It made a world of difference financially…and emotionally too. I was budgeting for Murphy, because he would always find me! Soon, Murphy stopped coming around. I started seeing my debt go down, and my payments I made on bills going up.
I received a phone call from my banker asking me what was going on. I was confused to what he was referring to. He said “Ok Shawna, you sent us a check on Tuesday for $120, Wednesday for $32, Thursday for $62, and today for $204; your payment is only $230 a month. This doesn’t include the $1,000 payment you made last week. I told the banker I want all my debt gone, and any extra money I had (from recycling cans, cleaning out vehicles, babysitting…) was going towards this loan. “Why can’t there be more young-adults like you out there” This was a turning point for me. I have never been looked at as a responsible one, especially financially.
I soon realized more people were watching what I was doing. I decided to host Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. I only had 4 couples sign up, so I was able to host the class at my house. I could see so many couples struggling financially. Our discussions were great! At the end of the 9 weeks, I had every couple tell me this class really helped them, and it was easy to learn by my example.
I have been working my debt-free journey for almost a year. So far, I have paid off $24,271.80 making $13.50 an hour at my full-time job as a health educator and $12.50 an hour at my part-time job (every other weekend when Ava goes to her father’s house). I am 3 years away from being debt free. I don’t think I have had this much confidence in my life. I enjoy paying my bills every month…knowing that 3 years from now I will not have to write this check.
Everyone has their struggles, it is how you decide to deal with your own that makes it successful. I was a broke, depressed single mother. I had no drive. I was overweight by almost 50lbs and not happy with any part of my life. I now look at losing my job as a blessing. It made me realize what was important in my life. My family and friends were my anchor through this storm. They made me realize that I deserved better than what I thought I deserved. I now have a job that encourages health, which encouraged me to lose 45lbs to date. I am a very happy single mother now. I know that my daughter is seeing my successes and we celebrate together.