The debt free community

The debt free community, like every community, has secrets that aren’t really secrets at all. They sound obvious when said out loud but not many people realise them until they are said. So I am going to share my own experience. The beauty of this is my experience won’t necessarily be the same as someone else’s but it is no less true.

A ridiculous amount of time goes into maintaining an account

Hours upon hours goes into growing and maintaining an account. Coming up with ideas for posts and then creating them takes massive amounts of time. There are hugely talented people who make it seem effortless. Their wit and clever way with words are so consistent across their posts that it is easy to believe they were born to be on social media.

Fact is those people spend large quantities of time carefully planning their content. Bringing knowledge and inspiration to people on a debt free journey isn’t rocket science but it is bloody hard to keep up the pace.

Do you remember trying to write answers in school about what the poet might have been feeling? Or why the author chose to use alliteration? It’s easy to waffle and say nothing. It’s hard to bring consist value to a community.

Talking to followers and being social takes time.

Again this is obvious and yet it has to be said for it to be made obvious. Chatting to people and learning from their experience is one of the best aspects of having a social media page. It just takes time.

When you are at a party and trying to have a conversation with 3 people it takes time to communicate affectively. If you have 3 ten minute conversations there’s a half hour gone without you even realising it.

The debt free community is growing here in Ireland. Some of the pages have over 10k followers. I can’t imagine it is easy to stay on top of all those conversations.

There is a ludicrous pressure to be perfect with money

I can not stress this enough but everyone in the debt free community is fallible. I started my page with over €40,000 of debt. My husband and I worked as a team and paid it off bit by bit.

We are back in debt.

We have no emergency fund.

Our sinking funds are empty.

Essentially we are back to square one and it is ok. We made an informed decision to go back into debt and we will work together to clear it again.

During any debt free journey it is safe to say everyone stumbles from time to time. Forgetting about a bill or an unexpected expense are nothing to feel shame about.

The harsh reality is there is tremendous pressure on members of the debt free community to never make mistakes. The pressure is self imposed but that doesn’t minimise the emotional toll. During March I made the biggest mistake of all. I buried my head in the sand and didn’t bother to make any sort of budget. I didn’t admit to it until I had found a way to fix it. Since then I have made the same mistake twice more.

Creating products takes courage

Anyone who has a product for sale, be it cash envelopes/ cash binder/ wallet/ budget book/ calendar/ meal planner/ stickers/ pens/ clothing etc, has had to face their fear of failure head on.

Now that is 100 percent true of any business owner. However it takes a whole other level of badass to save their hard earned moeny and take a risk on themselves when they have openly shared their own financial journey.

I have spent 100s of hours working on products and I have not found the courage to have them produced. Simple truth is the men and women who have made small business in the debt free community have dug deep and fought their natural desire to protect themselves from failure.

If there is a member of the debt free community you have bought from and enjoyed their product please do leave them a review.

Trolls are everywhere

For the most part the debt free community is a wonderful place. Cheering each other on and learning from each other is the norm.

Unfortunately there are still trolls who enjoy nothing more than bringing misery wherever they go. I have seen members of the debt free community get bashed on Facebook after their newspapers articles, viral videos and radio appearances grew traction.

It is easy for bored people to hide behind a keyboard and send hurtful messages privately.

Thinking about walking away from the debt free community

At one point or another everyone you follow on social media has wanted to jack it all in and say to hell with it.

The people you follow share their opinions and advice out of a need to help others. That takes it’s toll. There is only so much of yourself you can give to another before you start wondering what you have left for yourself.

There are members of the debt free community that have boundaries in place to protect their mental wellbeing as well as their privacy. Those people are smart. Please always respect other people’s boundaries. They have them in place for a reason.

Money is not the most important thing

I know that sounds counter productive but the thing is the debt free community is not driven by a love of money.

Instead it is driven by a want to make things better. Money management is a only a tool. No one wakes up one morning and says to themselves “I’d like to be bored stupid for the next 3 years”.

Paying off debt is dull as dishwater. The only reason anyone does it is so they can reduce the stress in their life or give their family a better life or so they can travel and have a wonderful time.

It isn’t the love of money that drives them. It’s the want of change.

We all have “Fuck it” days

Do you honestly believe that someone who has a debt free Instagram page magically always sticks to their budget? No they don’t!

How many times have you had money set aside for car tyres or an upcoming birthday and then your day goes to hell in a hand basket and you borrow from those savings? Yep, same here. It’s chocolate and takeaways for me. I will borrow €20 from a sinking fund and promise myself I’ll pay it back. I never do.

I’m human and it happens.

The debt free community can be a bit much

I haven’t been feeling happy in myself recently and my money management went right out the window. As a result I found taking part in the debt free community grated on my nerves. I didn’t bother to interact or watch anyone’s stories.

If I don’t have the interest or will power to look after my own money you can be certain I don’t have the interest in someone else’s money management. How many times have you thought you were the only one that felt that way?

Everyone shares the good things they did that day to make progress. (In fairness it is a way to stay accountable and I have done it myself.) No one wants to come on and be a Debby Downer with one failure after another. Social media is a highlight reel, it isn’t real life.

Imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a pain in the neck. Feeling like a fraud because you’re doing well and your page is growing is bad enough but it is worse when your real life is up in flames and everyone on social media thinks you’ve it all figured out.

Remember everyone you follow on social media still has to use the toilet. They are human. A large proportion of people on social media, in my experience, feel like someone is going to out them at some point for being a massive fake.

There are only so many ways to slice a turkey

There are only so many colours in the rainbow and only so many ways you can spell cheese. Everyone will talk about the same topics. Don’t believe me, check out my Instagram page and then look at your favourite debt free community page. I guarantee you the same topics will be covered.

How to cut food costs, what is a sinking fund and the importance of an emergency fund will crop up without fail on every account.

The thing is no one wants to be thought of as copying someone else. A few times I have been about to post something and decided to postpone it because it was the same topic a friend has just covered.

Further reading

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