One single mom is sharing how "credit card fasting" worked for her, helping her go from living paycheck to paycheck, to buying a home.
Credit card debt is easy to pile on, but hard to pay off. For Lisa Samalonis, it was the key to rebuild her life after divorce.
"It was very important for me to preserve some of that money so that I could put it down for a down payment, and also to preserve through the divorce, to preserve my credit score so that I would be eligible for a mortgage," Samalonis said.
The New Jersey native said she had to adjust to living as a single mother of two on one income. So, she decided to go on what she calls a credit card fast.
"Not using my credit card in the beginning was a key factor in that, because when you're using cash or debit, you can see it as soon as you know you don't have enough money, it's right there, having the awareness to know that you're actually spending more than you have," Samalonis said.
Now, the single mom owns her own home and is sharing her top three steps to becoming financially free. Step one is breaking down your finances.
"Just had a notebook, and I wrote down a lot of my expenses, the ones that were most important at the top, like food and my mortgage or housing. And then, down the list of things that were less important. By kind of breaking it down and really being honest or like getting real with myself, that actually gave me control as I went forward," Samalonis said.
She said step two is use zero-based budgeting, if you must use a credit card.
"When you use your credit card, you take money that you have in your account and you put it into a category or you allocate it to what you've just spent," Samalonis said.
And finally, she said, plan ahead.
"I started to plan better. When unexpected expenses came up, either if it was things that were owed or if it was things that we wanted to do, I tried to plan ahead and so I would be able to save money each month towards that goal," Samalonis said.