I’m a budget mom and I’ve spent thousands just to keep up appearances – this is how I paid off €15,000 in debt in one year

SANTIS O’Garro has revealed she has suffered a breakdown while struggling to deal with €15,000 in debt.

The Dublin mum-turned-money guru and TV presenter opened up about how her world fell apart in 2018 after her relationship fell apart and she was left a single mother with two young children.

Santis O'Garro launched the popular Instagram account The Caribbean Dub to share her journey to pay off a €15,026 debt


Santis O’Garro launched the popular Instagram account The Caribbean Dub to share her journey to pay off a €15,026 debtCredit: Mark Nixon
Santis is now a life coach, entrepreneur and social media money mentor


Santis is now a life coach, entrepreneur and social media money mentorCredit: Mark Nixon
Santis' book The Money Mentor is published by Harper Collins


Santis’ book The Money Mentor is published by Harper CollinsPhoto credit: Mark Nixon 2022

Postnatal depression coupled with the loss of her grandfather left the co-host of RTÉ’s hit TV show The Price of Everything struggling.

But Montserrat-born Santis realized that her habit of spending when she was feeling down wasn’t helping her — it was only making things worse.

Five years later, Santis has turned her life upside down and is now giving financial advice to others.

Smart saver Santis, 39, said: “It started in 2018. Everything in my life came to a head at once.

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“Many of us have instabilities that bother us. I felt like I was spending money. It was like The Fear when I looked at my bank balance.

“I’ve lived my whole life like this. I was constantly scared, or addicted if you want to call it that, and I got into a lot of debt for keeping up with the Joneses.

“I’ve been trying all this time to prove to people that I’m fine. I bought things to prove that I’m as good as everyone else.”

This “mad cocktail” peaked in 2018 and Santis suffered a breakdown.


She said: “At the beginning of 2019, as a solution-oriented person, I decided my first step would be to get out of debt.

“I said to myself, ‘I’ll never get another loan,’ unless it’s well thought out and planned.

“I certainly don’t get one to go shopping or take the kids away.”

Santis began her new regime with a budget, writing a list of everyone she owed money to.

She said: “It was €15,000 and that was a relief for me because I thought it was closer to €25,000.

“That was an elephant running around in my brain and as soon as I wrote the list the number got smaller.

“It was not so bad. I certainly owed more at other times.

“I started with the basics. I was working in a bookmaker and I realized I needed to cut my expenses and increase my earnings.

“I took in students and started claiming my taxes back. I had two childminders and knew I had to change that.

“I thought I could just keep going until the kids started school — but then something else always comes along.”


Santis began gradually paying off her debts, beginning with the most manageable — a small sum she owed a friend.

She said: “It took a year to pay it off. It got addicting. I went to Instagram and started sharing tips on my @thecarribeandub account.”




Do a budget NCT. Really look under the hood of your spending and find out what’s going on.

check expenses. I found I had a lot of subscriptions that I didn’t even remember signing up for – and they went out every month.

Understand impulse buying. Do you buy things because an influencer tells you to? If so, you’re buying it for them, not you.

Realize that spending is a commitment. Only buy things you will use and save money in the long run.

Santis now looks at everything she spends, from food bills to all other expenses, and shares her advice.

Though some think she’s not enjoying life because she watches money, Santis insists the opposite is true.

She said: “I watch the money I spend. Debt is the biggest threat to financial freedom.

“People think I’m unhappy, but do they really think that spending money around town to buy stuff makes them happier than me?

“It doesn’t. are you really living better I have a reset and am trying not to spend anything because I spent it at Christmas.

Santis shared how now she’s coming full circle to who she used to be by buying an Audi to prove herself amid her regrets to an ex.

She said: “I wouldn’t say I was a shopaholic, but I spent more than I had.

“I am an emotional donor. I would buy because I wanted to get away from my life.”

Santis, who is now an entrepreneur and life coach, catalogs her reinvention in her book The Money Mentor.

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She said: “Money is something we never talk about. We should be open about it. When I started looking into saving money, I realized there was so much you could do.”

The Money Mentor, published by Harper Collins, is out tomorrow for €17.

https://www.thesun.ie/money/10068099/budget-mum-thousands-paid-off-debt-tricks/ I’m a budget mom and I’ve spent thousands just to keep up appearances – this is how I paid off €15,000 in debt in one year

Fry Electronics Team

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