She once relied on welfare. Now she's a successful personal finance coach.

At only 20 years old, Chonce from My Debt Epiphany lived on her own with her 2-year-old child. She was attending Northern Illinois University, working a part-time job, and every other odd job she could pick up.

But she was broke.

“I was on welfare to help with food and used a daycare assistance program so I could take my son to childcare,” says Chonce. “Without it, I probably wouldn’t have been able to graduate.”

Then things became worse, in a small way that made a big difference. One day she realized she didn’t have enough money to wash her clothes. It upset her but she met the challenge.

“I was determined to get my clothes cleaned,” remembers Chonce.  “So I literally spent over an hour looking for spare quarters all around my house and in the parking lot of my apartment complex so I could wash them.”

That moment, combing the parking lot for change, sparked her interest in earning more money and becoming financially secure. She graduated from college and landed her first full-time job in only a few months at a web design company.

“My role was as a project coordinator and my job was to communicate with the clients to see what kind of website they wanted,” Chonce says. “Create content, optimize it for SEO, and other light coding tasks.”

But she became hooked on reading personal finance blogs during her lunch breaks and after work. “I always loved writing (I majored in journalism) and I made a few unsuccessful blogs in the past,” says Chonce.

At the same time, she became serious about paying off some debt she accrued — including an $11,000 high-interest car loan. “I cut a bunch of expenses,” remembers Chonce. “I stopped dining out as much, got rid of cable, changed my car insurance provider, and stopped buying new clothes for myself and my son.”

She also found a cheaper apartment. The move alone saved her $400 a month, so she didn’t mind the hassle.

After changing her living accommodations, Chonce yearned for a change in her working life. “The job started to drain me and my role kept changing,” she says.

She obsessed about leaving her job and starting her own personal finance blog. “I honestly think my obsession started to affect my performance at work so I decided to leave because it was unfair to work there and not give 100 percent.”

As a result, she left and started My Debt Epiphany. She now writes and works as a personal finance coach. It seemed like a natural transition. Her father and sister also started their own businesses, so it runs in the family.

She and her husband paid off more than $14,000 in debt last year despite the transition. Chonce admits self-employment isn’t perfect. “I’ve questioned my choice since I quit my job, but deep down I know I made the right decision,” says Chonce. “I’m more fulfilled and happy now.”

Here’s to happiness — and epiphanies about conquering debt, especially when they help other people do the same.

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Article last modified on May 10, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC .