Paying off more than $127,000 in debt can seem like a monster that’s impossible to get rid of.
But Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe has proved that with perseverance, patience and a plan, that monster can be annihilated.
Lowe has shared her story of financial independence in her first book, “’Slaying the Debt Dragon,” released last week by Tyndale Momentum. She goes through her own process of paying down car payments, credit cards and student loans, offering practical advice for living frugally while making a better life for her and her family.
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Sections focusing on aspects such as eating out, grocery stores, meal planning, couponing and household organization all play into helping get rid of debt.
From her start writing her Queen of Free blog about personal finances to her freelance work to the birth of a book, Lowe has shared the process that brought this story together.
How is the book laid out?
I start with our story, who we are and how we amassed that much debt. I felt like that was important to establish, because a lot of time that’s what confounds people, just how this could happen. Then I moved into our strategy.
What was your strategy?
We personified our debt. That’s how we were able to visualize and get hungry and fight against it. We named our debt a dragon. (My husband) Brian and I used that in our marriage especially, so we could fight against our debt instead of fighting each other, to see it as something out to destroy us.
Why did you do that?
You can say that debt wants to destroy your marriage, that debt wants to take away your children’s future, that debt wants to limit your happiness, and it doesn’t feel very threatening. But if you replace it with an actual name, it helps you get a little more angry and focus your energy in the right place.
How did this book come about?
I’d been blogging since 2008, and my mom and dad and husband all kept saying I should write a book. I’ve freelanced, so writing is not unfamiliar with me.
What moved you from that to actually considering a book?
In 2013, I went on a retreat with a favorite author of mine, Margaret Feinberg, in Arcadia, Maine. It wasn’t a writing-focused seminar, it was a leadership conference. But Margaret got up in my grill and told me that I was going to write a book, gave me a deadline and offered to help me.
How did that experience convince you?
When your favorite author says that she’ll help you write a book, you sit up and take notice.
How did you get started?
I didn’t know anything about publishing or writing a book proposal, so I got online and looked around. I had a friend enter a writing contest, Re:Write, and had me edit her format. I thought that was a really good format as far as what I needed in a book proposal.
What did you think when you entered Re:Write?
I thought that I’d give it a try, this was my first submission. It was not something with the anticipation that I was going to knock it out and win. I spent three days at the Greenwood library with my nose buried in my computer to get it done.
When did you hear from them?
Two weeks later, they tweeted out that their top 10 was out. I was bummed that I didn’t get any notification, so I thought I didn’t make it. Lo and behold, my name was at the top of the list.
What did that mean?
They wanted me to come to the conference in Austin, Texas. They couldn’t tell me if I won, but they thought I had a really good chance. I told them I didn’t have this budgeted and couldn’t go, but we worked around it, and I was able to drive down with my family. Then I found out I had won.
What exactly did it mean that you won?
It’s a publishing contract with Tyndale Momentum, a faith-based publisher based out of the Chicago area. The Momentum branch does inspirational nonfiction.
What was it like actually writing the book?
I had only done the short proposal, so I would get up really early and write between 5 and 7 a.m. before I had to get my kids ready for school, then late in the evening after they went to bed. Otherwise, my life went on as normal.
Was it difficult?
People think about writing a book as this very ethereal process where the words float out of their mind onto the paper. But it’s kind of ugly — it’s hard work. It was totally worth it, but it’s not this romantic experience that people think of.
What do you try to convey in this book?
Getting out of debt is not fun. It can be ugly and painful and embarrassing and shameful. What do you do with that? That’s what differentiates this book from some of the other great books about personal finance. I delve a little bit into the emotional side of debt, and what it felt like to have $127,000 in debt, how it paralyzes you.
What do you hope people take away from this?
Being in debt is a lot like being in the dark. You’re searching for a way out. It feels hopeless, and it is difficult. Hope is the undergirding principle that I hope people walk away from.
Where can people pick up the book or get more information?
They can go to www.slayingthedebtdragon,com. It’s also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Family Christian and other retailers.