Lafauli: Debt-Free and Smiling
Can you tell me about your background? How did you accumulate your debt?
I was born in New Zealand, grew up in Auckland, and migrated to Australia in 2004. I am the fourth child of three brothers and two sisters. My parents worked very hard to feed, clothe and put a roof over our heads, instilling the strong value of working hard for a day’s wage but having no knowledge of how to save money.
I later accumulated this debt through reckless spending and putting everything on the fantastic plastic. When one card was used up, I got another; over time, I could not pay the debt off and fell behind in my payments. I thought that by ignoring the payments it would all go away, but it caught up with me in the end and I needed to face my demons.
Was there a “light bulb” moment when you decided that you were going to get debt-free?
The light bulb moment was when I came to an understanding that I did not want to live my life this way… trying to avoid phone calls, mail, and convincing myself that I was ok when I wasn’t. That is when I made the phone call and everything else seems like history.
How long did it take you to get debt-free? How did you stay motivated?
It took me over four years to get debt-free. At the end, it was a great accomplishment; what kept me motivated was my partner’s being there for me through the hard times and good times.
What advice would you give to people with large amounts of debt who don’t see a way of getting debt-free?
I had to come to the understanding that I needed to surrender and accept that I had a problem with debt. Just because we surrender, well, my advice is that it doesn’t make you a lesser person, it only gives more hope that you can get through it all by taking one step at a time.
What mistakes do you see others making with their money?
I think the mistakes that some people make with money is the lack of respect that they have for money. This includes taking it for granted, keeping up spending when you think you can get more, and just forgetting about the long-term effects that this whole process does to you, family, friends and your community.
What was the most important thing that you’ve learnt along the way?
What I have learnt along the way is to to have respect for money and not take it for granted. I heard that saying, “money is the root of all evil”, but I think it’s truer with the lack of it.
What goals or aspirations are you going to achieve now you’re debt-free?
I have achieved a few goals in becoming debt-free, and during that time, I have learnt to save money for trips away. Now with the money I have saved, I use it for further education.
Do you have any final words of wisdom for the readers?
The final word that I have for the readers is to know that when you look at your statements received in the mail from Debt Mediators and see the total going down, it’s a wonderful thing to see. Celebrate that achievement by rewarding yourself each time; go to a restaurant with your partner, enjoy a mini-holiday weekend, or do whatever else you really like to do!