The first time I reviewed my credit report it felt like I was walking into a well-appointed room decorated with mistakes from my past. Some were bigger than others, but they were all there, and every line of my report reminded me of a bad financial decision that I would have loved to forget about — but due to my neglect, these mistakes were anchored to the walls and rubbed into the fabric of the carpet that paved my financial journey.

This process was filled with several emotions and I transitioned from optimism, to regret, to embarrassment, to shame. I began to question whether or not I had the tools and resources that would be necessary to untangle my financial mess.

The most painful and embarrassing part of the process came from confronting a financially abusive relationship that left me with physical scars, a drained savings account, maxed out credit cards, and collection items on my credit report. I was ashamed that I, the girl who grew up in a loving household, was a victim of abuse. I will never forget the feeling I had when my human resources manager called me into her office to inform me that Bank of America had won a court judgment to garnish my wages to pay off the balance for a credit card I maxed out during that relationship. As someone who prided herself on looking like she had it all together, I was devastated. Not about the fact that $180 was being deducted from my already meager non-profit paycheck bi-weekly, but that my job knew the truth about me and my financial situation.

I was a financial wreck.

To deal with the shame, I dug myself deeper into a hole. I clung to retail therapy because for me, looking good took precedence over being and feeling good.

Beginning The Road To Financial Freedom

Eventually I became tired of avoiding calls and feeling restrained by my financial history. I called the one person who I knew wouldn’t judge me, my younger sister, and came clean. After tearful confessions to her and my parents, I vocalized my intentions to become proactive about my financial situation and create a new story. I decided to start a blog to document my journey to financial freedom and My Fab Finance was born.

As my peers learned about my site they started sharing their stories and fears with me. We all began to feel a weight lift as we began to drop the financial baggage we had been carrying. Confessing what brought us financial shame allowed us to empower others, and ourselves, with life-changing solutions.

Talking about our experiences and financial secrets helped us realize that we weren’t alone. And if you’re reading this post, I want you to know that you’re not alone.

I found myself feeling alone again as I transitioned to full-time entrepreneurship which also presented a host of additional financial challenges such as budgeting on inconsistent income and self-funding business goals. I again found support when I spoke to other entrepreneurs about the shame I felt, creating debt, as a financial educator. Once I spoke to a colleague about it, they reminded me of what I had accomplished and my ultimate vision, and how this debt was different. Sometimes you need the perspective of other to remind you not to be so hard on yourself. One of my closest friends reminded me that I was and have been furthering my legacy and helping others further theirs. Last year I confessed this to my audience and embarked on phase two of my journey which is to eliminate my business-related debt I accrued during the transition.

I’ve partnered with Intuit, the makers of TurboTax and Mint, to drive the conversation about money through their #RealMoneyTalk campaign for Turbo. Turbo, is a free tool that gives you a complete look at your financial health – your credit, debt-to-income ratio and verified IRS income. I like it because it shows me where I stand financially, and if I am on track in comparison to my peers — it benchmarks users across categories so you can make your next financial decisions with more confidence.

Recently, Turbo gathered strangers from completely different walks life and encouraged them to confess their feelings about money. Have a look at what happened:

 

Now that I’ve shared my money story and you’ve watched complete strangers share theirs, I invite you to take a step towards releasing the shame and taboos surrounding financial discussions and share your story with us. The more we share, the more we normalize financial conversations that can help us heal and inspire others to begin their journey. If you’ve confronted your shame and fear, and want to empower someone else who may be feeling hopeless, please invite them to join the conversation. All I ask is that you loop us in on social media or comment below. If you share your story (tagging @IntuitTurbo, #RealMoneyTalk and #sweepstakes), you’ll also have the chance to win $5,000 cash!

Remember, you are not alone and you are supported on this journey.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Turbo. The opinions and text are all mine.