written by Shae Bynes, Founder of ChasingYourFreedom.com
Today’s Debt Crusher Spotlight is on Monique Flament, a wife and proud mom from Maryland who knows quite a bit about getting her side hustle on. While working in Corporate America, she got started with real estate investing and eventually amassed over $2 million dollars in rental properties before suffering (along with thousands of other investors) the housing market crash.
Monique and her husband didn’t let a housing crash keep them from moving forward. Over the past 3 years they have eliminated over a million dollars in debt. I love the sticktoitiveness of this family during difficult times. Many would’ve given up, but the Flament family simply regrouped, focused, sacrificed, and moved forward with their dream of debt freedom and financial freedom.
Can you share a little bit about yourself (family, occupation, etc)?
I currently reside in the Washington DC Metropolitan area with my husband of 10 years and our 8 year old son. I am a graduate from Bowie State University with a B.S. in Business and a M.A. in Public Administration. After college, I landed several key positions in Human Resources Information Systems with ADP, MCI and currently with US AID (Federal Government).
After 10+ years in Corporate America, I decided to add another stream of income to our household budget and gave real estate a try. The very first rental property that my husband and I sold, netted us a profit of over $125,000. I was SOLD! I immediately went and secured my real estate license and the rest as they say is…history.
Since that very first investment property in 2004, I became one of the top producing Real Estate agents at Exit First Realty (in Maryland). I used to hold monthly workshops for new real estate investors; and, I personally controlled over $2 Million in real estate from 2004 to 2007. Then, the real estate market took a deep dive… and so did I.
What debts were you facing before your debt crushing began?
In 2007, I owed (not owned) $1,193,000.00 in mortgage loans to Bank of America, Chase and Hard Money lenders. I also owed $45,700 in credit card, auto and IRS debt.
What led you and your family to a decision to break free of debt?
One of the first decisions to break free of the debt was the internal turmoil (also known as stress) that was taking a toll on my physical health. The stress of not being able to meet your basic monthly expenses is overwhelming. Then, my husband was laid off from his job – so that income was no longer available. If we had no debt, the layoff would not have affected us as much as it did.
I wanted to be FREE! Free to live the life that God ordained for me as His child. Free to leave Corporate America at my choosing. Free to drop off and pick up my son from school. Free to give to others in need. Free to owe no man. I just wanted my family and I to be FREE.
What was (is) your debt payoff strategy?
1. A commitment to cutting up ALL credit cards. No more credit cards…period.
2. Face the debt amount down to the penny and own up to it. This took me a while to face, but it’s critical.
3. Quicken – tracks every $$ I spend. Allows me to see where the money goes on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
4. A simple Excel spreadsheet to track debt balances monthly payments and monthly expenses.
5. Payoff small debts first. They are less intimidating and builds momentum.
6. Consistent and truthful accountability (mentor or coach).
7. Faith also plays a huge part in this journey. God desires for us to be free from bondage.
Were you intimidated by the task in front of you? If so, how did you translate that intimidation into action?
Imtimidated? Absolutely! $1,193,000.00 in mortgage loans and $45,700 in credit card, auto and IRS debt is quite intimidating.
We turned our fear into anger (the non-violent kind of course). We began to see that the mortgage and credit card companies were the ones profiting – not us. No matter how low the interest rate, no matter how many bonus miles they promise for that purchase – they are profiting; we are not.
What obstacles have you faced since starting your journey to debt freedom and how did you address them?
My husband being laid off was a huge obstacle. The unemployment income was a help but it certainly wasn’t enough. Then to make matters worse, he was unable to find comparable work and pay. So instead of allowing that to stop our journey to becoming debt free, we decided it was time to re-group and re-focus our real estate business. Only this time….with NO DEBT!
Tell me about the avenues your family took to pay off debt (new income sources, less spending, sacrifices).
1. Sold as much real estate as we possibly could. We even sold our own personal residence and moved into an apartment (saving over $1,000 per month). Many of the homes were sold as Short Sale(s). I understand not everyone is amenable to that solution but we were on a mission.
2. Moved to a different county in Maryland with better schools. This allowed us to take our son out of private school (saving over $1,000 per month). I will admit…this was very difficult for me.
3. Bonuses, refunds and extra business income all went towards paying off the IRS and Credit card debt.
How much debt have you paid off to date and when do you anticipate total debt freedom (excluding mortgage)?
From 2009 to present, we have paid off $38,107 in credit card, IRS and auto debt. From 2009 to present, we have also paid off/sold $1,026,454.00 in Mortgage debt.
We anticipate total debt freedom of the remaining credit card debt by 12/31/2012.
What advice would you give to the freedom chasers out there who are just beginning their journey to become debt free?
- Don’t wait for perfect circumstances.
- Take one step and one day at a time.
- Don’t compare your life or circumstances to anyone else. No more people pleasing.
- Expect bumps along the way.
- Act your wage.
- Surround yourself with others who have successfully beat debt.
- No matter what…don’t give up
If I can dig out of this hole, so can you!
Thank you Monique for sharing your story and providing some great tips for others!
If you want tips on how to crush your debt, be sure to check out my free Debt Crushers Blueprint.
If you have your own Debt Crushing Success Story, I’d LOVE to hear it. Simply contact me here.