Financial consultant Kassandra Dasent of Minding Your Money may seem like someone who has always had her finances together, but her early financial years were actually fraught with problems. As an immigrant from Trinidad who made her way to Canada during her childhood, Dasent grew up in a low-income household where her mom had to work all the time just to make ends meet.
Dasent admits her mother did her best to teach her the importance of saving and learning from financial mistakes, but she was stubborn throughout her teenage years and early adulthood, she says. It didn’t help that, at one point, her mother wound up in credit card debt, filed for bankruptcy, and lost her job in one fell swoop.
The financial coach says she spent decades with a “YOLO mentality” that left her living paycheck-to-paycheck. She finally started saving something for retirement in her early 30’s, she says, but only a small percentage of her salary.
Unfortunately, she had fallen into the trap of trying to keeping up with the Joneses – mentality. Since Dasent only earned $38,000 as a certified commercial credit analyst by the time she hit her mid-thirties, this attitude left her robbing Peter to pay Paul and deep in debt. She also admits she cared a lot more about how wealthy she looked instead of what was in her bank account.
Like it or not, we all know how that story ends.
When Debt Finally Becomes Too Much
Whether it was a symptom of the financial crisis that began in 2008 or a simple realization that her finances weren’t getting any better, Dasent says she felt like the walls were closing in by 2009. At that point, she had around $42,000 in car loans, business loans, and credit card debt — and it was starting to take its toll.
She had always managed to pay the minimum amount required, but her growing debt balances meant that even coming up with that much was a challenge considering her low pay.
Once Dasent realized she had a real problem and that she was the only one who could fix it, she created a comprehensive plan to become debt-free in five years. But it all had to start within, she says, which is why her first priority was “getting real with myself and taking responsibility for my choices and actions.”
For the future coach, this meant increasing her emotional awareness and forming a goal-oriented mindset — in other words, creating conditions in her life that would generate long-term financial success.
She also cut her expenses in half, gave up her condo to live with roommates for a year, and hustled hard to earn money on the side as a musician and singer. Funny enough, Dasent’s newfound confidence was enough to convince her she wasn’t being paid what she was worth at her day job, either.
She successfully negotiated a raise of more than 10% of her salary at the time and, all combined, used her “wins” to pay off her debt 1.5 years faster than she thought she could — and all without any outside help.
How Her Massive Debt Led to Entrepreneurship
Dasent became entirely debt-free on November 21, 2012 — a date etched in her memory because it was such an enormous relief. From there, Dasent worked on becoming a certified financial education instructor while continuing in a new job as a software project manager.
When her mother became gravely ill in 2017, however, she became her primary caregiver and needed to take a medical leave of absence from her job.
During her leave, she decided she wanted to start a new, meaningful chapter of work that would allow her to create a flexible schedule and help others reach their financial goals. If she could pay off $42,000 in debt over a few years with a normal salary, why couldn’t she help others do the same?
“I realized that, beyond being a financial educator, I had a strong desire and saw a need to help people develop an emotionally healthy relationship with money and teach them what I know and have learned over the last decade,” she says.
With the support of her husband and the knowledge they had plenty of cash reserves, Dasent made the decision to resign from her job and open her company, Minding Your Money. And, for the most part, she has stayed way too busy to look back.
Think You’re Stuck? These Tips Can Help You Dig Out of Debt
After all that she’s been through, Dasent marvels at just how much can happen in a decade. Ten years ago, she was living in Montreal, Canada and deeply in debt. Today, at the age of 43, however, she lives in the United States and has a solid financial foundation that helps her sleep very well at night.
Dasent has continued working hard on her business and is finally able to help her elderly mother and mother-in-law with their finances. She has also been deep in the trenches of personal finance, saving and investing to help grow generational wealth for all their families.
The coach says that she wants to help people — and especially people of color — understand that it’s okay to pursue wealth and that financial wellness can make their lives better in ways they cannot imagine.
“Being able to do this gives me great joy in life,” she says.
If you’re stuck in debt and cannot find a way out to save your life, it’s pretty likely you’re not looking hard enough. Dasent was no overnight success, but she was able to overcome all odds to reach her financial goals.
While there’s a lot that goes into getting out of debt and changing the Keeping Up With The Joneses – mindset so you can stay out of debt, her success can mostly be attributed to the fact she set goals and never, ever gave up. If you’re in debt, you should do the same, but it all starts with acknowledging the situation you may have created and taking ownership of the problem, she said.
Also be willing to reconsider beliefs and perceptions about money that do not help you grow emotionally and financially, notes the financial consultant.
Finally, make sure you figure out how much debt you could pay off each month and set in motion a plan that will make it happen. All the dreaming and praying in the world won’t help you become debt-free, but a carefully crafted budget and a checklist of goals absolutely can do the trick if you stay the course and refuse to compromise.