Today, Melanie from Dear Debt is taking over the blog and we are excited to have her sharing her debt story with us!
Debt and I have been in it for the long haul. I signed my student loan papers at age 17 – a whopping 12 years ago. The thing is, when I was going to college I never thought I was in debt. If you aren’t paying it back yet, you aren’t in debt, right? That is what my supremely naïve 17-year old self thought.
Aside from not fully realizing I was in debt for the whole four years during college, I also didn’t seem to understand the concept of interest. It was as if by pure magic my original loan of $18,000 jumped to $23,000. I couldn’t really grasp the fuzzy math.
After I got my first real adult job, I thought I was too cool for debt. I paid the minimum and went out a lot.
I also made excuse after excuse why I couldn’t pay more.
I live in Los Angeles! Hello! Do you know how expensive it is to live here?
I work at a nonprofit….which means I’m kind of like a paid volunteer.
I’m so young! I have my whole life to pay off debt (bahah yeah right).
It doesn’t end there. A few years later, I thought I’d make myself look all fancy and get a master’s degree. I was accepted to a fancy private college in NYC, so I quit my job and took on triple the amount of debt.
After realizing how much debt I had gotten myself into, in hopes of creating a better future for myself (and it not really working out that way), I knew I had to find a way to climb out.
But first there were many nights of panic, crying, yelling and cursing the world.
Unfortunately that did a whole lot of nothing. My debt wasn’t going to magically disappear. I was going to have to work. Hard.
So I started to become obsessed with different ways of making money. I started to side hustle by working events, taking care of pets and houses, writing, and working odd jobs. Luckily, I was already a minimalist, but I kept it that way, living in a small, shared studio with my boyfriend. I said “no” to a car, “no” to a baby kitty, even though deep down all I want to do is be a cat mommy and said “no” to many other things.
For a while it seemed like I wasn’t making any progress at all. Some months would be great, then the next month would be bad. It’s now been three years since I’ve graduated with my master’s from “Now You’re Unemployed” and I’ve paid off $30,000 in 3 years on a similar salary. Only now can I finally see it. The little steps are starting to make a difference.
I’m paying off debt and working on it every damn day. I’m hustling to make it work and trying hard not to be jealous of the Joneses, or lose momentum.
It’s tough. I’m inching my way to 30 and am still paying for my experiences from several years ago. But I’m not married to debt. While we’ve been together for a long time, it’s been more than over for some time. I am kicking him to the curb and we are done!
Melanie Lockert is a freelance wordsmith, a passionate debt fighter, and frugal lovin’ minimalist. She devotes 50% of her income to her student loan debt and is often dreaming of her next adventure. She writes about breaking up with debt at DearDebt.com and can be found on Twitter @DearDebtBlog.