Million Dollar Year Spotlight: How Silvia Mitchell Paid Off $58k in Credit Card Debt and Started Dancing Again

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Silvia Mitchell can still remember the exact day she signed up for Million Dollar Year: November 29, 2020, a Sunday afternoon. That date stands out to her as much as an anniversary or a loved one’s birthday.

In a way, it is an anniversary for her: the day she started taking concrete steps toward taking care of herself by taking care of her finances.

At the time, she was under a lot of stress. About seven years ago, she finished her PhD work, raised two kids, and launched a new career as a professor. Her divorce had wreaked havoc on her finances. She owed $58,000 in credit card debt and — like almost 45 million people across America — thousands in student loans. As a result, even though her salary was 3.5 times higher than it had been before, she struggled to get ahead.

For a while, she tried taking care of her financial issues by herself. She applied for a loan forgiveness program and debt management. This helped her make some progress in paying down her debt, but it was very slow, the interest was very high, and because she didn't know how to budget, she still relied on her credit cards to get her through the summer. If she wanted to eliminate her debt — for good — she'd have to make a change.  

When the pandemic struck, she was able to work remotely, had a sabbatical coming up, and moved in with one of her grown children, which gave her the time and space she needed to commit to financial change. So, she signed up for Million Dollar Year.

Gaining Financial Clarity with the Million Dollar Year

As soon as she signed up for Million Dollar Year, Silvia threw herself wholeheartedly into the program, carefully completing each step.

But the turning point came when she booked her clarity call with Dow Janes co-founder Laurie-Anne King.

While working in a small college town in Indiana, Silvia dreamed of moving to Chicago – a big city with culture and art, where she would feel free to be herself and enjoy the privilege of her professional success without giving up on living the lifestyle that she craved. But making that move would cost a lot of money and making the move without planning properly would mean creating another financial mess.

Talking with Laurie-Anne helped Silvia realize how much she should be spending and saving every month and exactly how much it would cost to move to Chicago. Having tangible numbers helped Silvia focus and measure how close she was to achieving her goal. It removed some of the risk and fear around moving.

They also discussed how Silvia could pay off her student debt. Laurie-Anne agreed that signing up for a loan forgiveness program was a great step, but recommended Silvia meet with the loan consultant to make sure everything was an order.

Being a professor, it's no surprise that Silvia knows how to be a good student. When she reached out to her loan consultant, she learned that some of her loan payments had not been counted properly.

As a result of her clarity call, Silvia reached out to the right people who could help her pay off her debt fast so she could start saving the money she needed to achieve her goals.

As a professor, Silvia didn’t get paid over the summer; usually, she relied on credit cards to get her through month-to-month. This summer was different. Not only did she stop relying on credit cards, but she paid off $40,000 of credit card debt and raised her credit score 100 points.

What surprised Silvia the most was how pleasant the process was.

“I never felt deprived one second during the entire process. At all,” Silvia said.

And that was only the beginning.

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“I’m Going to Be a Millionaire!”

Long before her PhD, Silvia was a professional dancer. She began taking a few dance classes before Million Dollar Year, but since getting her finances in order, she’s started taking more dance classes, costing hundreds of dollars. In fact, over the summer – her first debt-free summer – she took a weeklong dance vacation in New York City. And now she has the money to pay for it all.

Money is a crucial part of designing a life that makes you excited to wake up in the morning. The financial decisions determine what opportunities we can pursue; having less money limits our life choices.

Million Dollar Year taught Silvia how to spend money in alignment with her values – a lesson she’s taken to heart.

She’s made changes like purchasing a public transportation card so she doesn’t waste money on parking in the city. Meanwhile, she splurges on things that are important to her and add meaning and joy to her life.

As she tells her story, she’s sitting in her apartment in her favorite area of the Windy City. While sharing that she lives within walking distance of the Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park, and the art institute, she can’t help bouncing in her chair and raising her arms in a “praise hands” gesture.

With Million Dollar Year, Silvia paid off about $40,000 in credit card debt in one year — an accomplishment that would have taken years with a debt management program.

For the first time, in January 2022, Silvia was able to deposit 25% of her paycheck into her savings account, which she opened during the Million Dollar Year. Her rent and dance classes aren’t cheap, but she’s easily able to pay them. 

“I have done things that I never thought I could do,” Silvia shared. “I don’t even recognize myself.”

Silvia gives Million Dollar Year full credit for giving her the resources and education she needed to dig herself out of debt, learn to manage her money, and build a life she couldn’t even imagine in her wildest dreams.

“I’m doing what I love, I’m living the life that I want, and I know that this is going even higher from here,” Silvia shared, a giant smile on her face. “I actually texted my children a few weeks ago and said, ‘Guys! I’m going to be a millionaire!’ And they were all laughing, but I really meant it.”

And for anyone on the fence about joining Million Dollar Year? Silvia has only one thing to say: “Just do it.”

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