Whats The Debtors Speaking About Debt Reduction

November is Financial Literacy Month, and Monday evening of this week, I spoke at a local public library about our journey out of debt. Most people who attend talks about personal finance are already financially literate. They seek out opportunities to learn more in an ongoing effort to keep their financial health strong. My talk wasn’t going to fit the bill for these people. It was a presentation for debtors who who don’t normally set foot in a room under the banner of “financial literacy”.

Twelve people had registered for the event, and my hope was that at least one person would come away from it with a strong sense of encouragement. My talk was promoted on the library’s website with the title “Getting Out of the Red” and as “A Personal Journey”. It stated that my experience would be “presented in a language that resonates with many, and hopefully will inspire others to get out of debt.” I hoped that people actually struggling with debt would be drawn to it. Much as I  admire financial whizzes, they weren’t my target audience.

 

Nervousness . . .

As the day approached, I had to make a real effort to keep my focus where it was supposed to be: on the people who would be listening and on the message of hope I had to share. It was a challenge to keep that focus as so many worries crept in:

  • There was no way I was going to be able to present without reading. Would that be OK?
  • Would the 12 people who had registered actually show up?
  • Would the right people show up? Debtors who would be able to relate to what I had to say? Or would there just be personal finance keeners who would find it a waste of time?

My talk was scheduled for 6:30, and  at 6:25 there were 2 people in the room. “This could be really awkward,” I thought. But within a few minutes, there were 20 people. It was time to start.

 

Personal mixed with perspective and advice

Over the next 50 minutes or so, I shared our story as DH advanced the PowerPoint slides. If you’ve been reading  this blog and/or Prudence Debtfree for any amount of time, you already know the chapters of that story:

  • My many, many years of head-in-the sand chaotic finances
  • DH’s  job loss during the high-tech bust
  • Our 6 years of financial stress
  • The launch of DH’s successful home business and our return to “normal”
  • Our financial wake-up moment
  • Our journey out of debt – both the practical side and the deeper side
  • Our encouraging progress after 4½ years

Interspersed with our personal story, I included national trends and statistics to give the context of increasing and widespread indebtedness in society, as well as advice and insights from the sources that we’ve tapped into – especially Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover.