27. Two-time college dropout. DEBT FREE!!!

Say hello to Your Frugal Friend!

Bonjour beautiful people! My name is Alycia (aka your frugal friend)! I love margaritas, mimosas, money, and men. I’m a life-loving 20-something with an unusual story. I dropped out of college (twice), have worked 25 jobs since I started working at age 16 (been fired from 5), worked on a cruise ship in Hawaii, packed my bags to teach English in Nicaragua (only to return 21 days later), have a love-hate relationship with working 9 to 5. Most importantly, I AM DEBT FREE!!!

I was born and raised in Virginia Beach, VA on June 8, 1992. As a child, I had a different dream every other day. My uncertainty of what career to pursue followed me well into adulthood. My parents worked 9 to 5 to give my brothers and I everything they never had, so naturally, I thought that I should do the same. I always thought that I would find my “dream job”, but after six months I always found myself irritated with jobs and either got fired, quit, or would leave for lunch and never return. After 25 attempts, I realize that no one is going to give me my dream job, so I am CREATING my dream job. My dream job includes being my own boss, helping others, traveling the world, and working from anywhere.

My parents never went to a 4-year university. My dad entered the workforce straight out of high school, and my mom went to a 2-year community college. My parents made sure we never had to struggle. They worked to give us everything they never had by working, so I figured I’d follow their footsteps.

I started working as soon as I turned 16. My first job was at Red Lobster where I got fired for eating biscuits at the hostess stand. My second job was at Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant where I got fired for sharing my two cents when it wasn’t needed. 17 and fired twice?! This work thing sucks!!!

Fast forward to age 19 where I’m living on my own, managing a McDonald’s, and working at 7-11.

Age 19: Living my best life as a Mcdonald’s Manager

After working tirelessly for minimum wage, I figured college might be a good idea so I could live a better life.

I enrolled in a community college, quit 7-11, and worked weekends at McDonald’s. I was on the Dean’s List and doing well. I decided to give a 4-year university a chance. I applied to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and was accepted! I was so excited to go to a 4-year institution.

Got to VCU, changed my major every semester, partied Monday-Sunday, skipped class, dropped out just to re-enroll and drop out (again). VCU cost $6,500, which turned into $8,000 when I postponed my student loan payments. In hindsight, I used college as a safe-space between childhood and adulthood.

Neither college nor the workforce was working for me, so I felt like the military was my final option. I visited a recruiter, took the ASVAB, picked a job, and was sworn into the US Navy.  My boot camp date was January 13, 2015. I moved back home to Virginia Beach and started working as an insurance agent for GEICO until boot camp.

GEICO WAS GREAT! I was making $30,000/year with no degree, had benefits, vacation time, and opportunity for growth. I fell in love with GEICO and decided to not pursue a career with the Navy. I felt like I made the right decision until…

GEICO fired me on December 31, 2014… 13 days before I was supposed to leave for boot camp.

Getting fired and ringing in the new year unemployed was NOT in my plans.

THIS IS WHEN I HIT ROCK BOTTOM.

I was shattered and confused. I tried everything I was taught; go to work, go to school, or go to the military. I epically failed at all of these… so I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do. What would make ME happy?

All I knew was that I wanted to travel and see the world. I had no clue beyond that. I started googling “traveling jobs no degree”, and came across a job post on Craigslist to work on a cruise ship in Hawaii. I had never been more than three hours away from my family or flown on a plane before. Nevertheless, I took a leap of faith, hopped on a plane, cried on the plane, and moved 5,000 miles away from home to live in Hawaii on June 29, 2015.

This ship was my home! Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America.

Working and living in Hawaii was an experience that completely transformed my life and turned me into a travel junkie. Since I got bit by the travel bug I have done two cross-country road trips through the United States and visited Canada, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico (twice), Dominican Republic, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. The goal is 30 countries by 30 and I’m just getting started.

Traveling has opened up my eyes to people, places, and cultures that I’ve never seen before. It helped me step out of my comfort zone and live my life for ME, not by society’s standards.

Okay, so how does becoming debt-free blend into all of this? Great question! Keep reading and you shall find your answer, young grasshopper.

We worked 7 days a week in Hawaii, the company provided housing and food, but somehow I was still living paycheck to paycheck. It didn’t make sense! I started by analyzing my spending habits. My habits included eating out on the island, paying full price for alcohol, and paying for a car that I wasn’t using back home. From there, I began making minor changes to my habits, which helped me start spending less and saving more. I paid for my first vacation in cash and saved $1000!

After Hawaii, I moved to Washington, D.C. with my former boyfriend. I started working 9 to 5, kept my nose in finance books, side hustled, and became a certified TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) teacher. I was paying off debt and saving some money, but I soon became bored with monotony.

In August 2017, I  quit my job, packed my bags and moved to Nicaragua to teach English abroad. No long story here cause ya girl lasted 21 days before flying back to the States. I felt defeated. Here was yet another plaque to add to my Wall of Failures.

After Nicaragua, I threw myself a pity party (or two). I felt like a failure. Quitting my job and moving abroad was a dream I worked towards for YEARS. I climbed this treacherous mountain only to slip on a rock and fall flat on my ass. From there I looked in the mirror, wiped my tears, analyzed where I went wrong and went back to working 9 to 5. This time I found a better job with better pay and I had a better state of mind.

Becoming debt-free was my ONLY GOAL, which I accomplished on September 13, 2018!!!

I paid off $15,000 in debt by following the baby steps outlined in  “Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money”, the 9 steps outlined in “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin, and by adopting my Debt Free Fundamentals.

I created My Currency Canvas for society’s misfits and for those that want to create their own path and live life on their terms. The mission behind My Currency Canvas is to use the currency you have to create your reality. Currency is so much more than money. It’s where we allow our time and energy to flow.

My: Belongs to you, ownership.

Currency: Energy, time, money, focus.

Canvas: A clean slate to create your lifestyle. You are an artist. Your life is your canvas. The way you spend, save, and invest is how you paint your reality. 

All in all, it took your frugal friend over 5 years to become debt-free, but I FINALLY DID IT!!! How did I do it on a $30,000 salary, with no college degree? Hardwork, sacrifice, consistency, a few side hustles, and DEBT-FREE FUNDAMENTALS. My vision is to teach English abroad and visit 30 countries by age 30. I am using the currency I have to turn my vision into reality. I am here to help you do the same.

Apply the Debt-Free Fundamentals, stay focused, ask questions, educate yourself, and stay consistent! If anyone can do it, it’s you!

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I’d love to hear about your journey as well 🙂