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Get Out of Debt

Soul-Crushing Debt Paying Tips from People Who Actually Did It

Can you imagine being 26 with over $100,000 in student loan debt? I don’t have to imagine, I’ve lived it.

Needless to say, debt like that can be devastating. My debt made me extremely depressed, and my health subsequently began to deteriorate. This was over a decade ago. By the time I finally paid off my debt, I was close to 40.

You know who else was in their 40s when they paid off their student loan debts? Barack and Michelle Obama. The president said during a speech that he and his wife were paying off student loan debt at a time they should have been saving money for their daughters. As someone who has faced a similar predicament, I wholeheartedly agree.

Sometimes, when you are tackling soul-crushing debt, it helps to be inspired. Reading about other people in debt certainly made me feel as if my situation was normal, and that it was possible to get out of it. It was surprising to find out the number of celebrities who have been in debt (pretty much everyone from Mark Twain to Nicolas Cage).

Well, I guess you should be careful about what you read. If you have hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, reading about the money troubles of Wesley Snipes or Lindsey Lohan will hardly help. Instead, I used to read about the people who tackled debt wisely and overcame it. Here are some of those stories and debt paying tips that helped me climb out of a precarious financial situation.

Walt Disney

Yes, it was quite shocking to learn that the creator of the “happiest place on earth,” multiple Academy Award winner and one of the richest animators in history, started his career bankrupt.

It turns out Disney’s very first company failed big, forcing him to declare bankruptcy. However, Disney didn’t give up. He moved to Hollywood, and you know the story after that. Disney is often used by financial advisors as a good example of bankruptcy planning. When you are in debt, it’s important to think wisely whether to file for bankruptcy, and if so, under which chapter.

Cyndi Lauper

She was so not having any fun when she had to file for bankruptcy after losing a lawsuit. Lauper started her career in a band called Blue Angel, which failed causing the band mates to fire their manager, who sued them in return. Lauper lost, and spent the coming years working as a salesgirl in retail and waiting tables dressed up like a geisha at a Japanese restaurant. Well, Lauper at least only had to do all these awful jobs until the release of her hit solo album in 1983.

Francis Ford Coppola

The legendary director of the Godfather trilogy had to file for bankruptcy, for the second time, once his debts piled up after the failure of a high-cost production called “One from the Heart.”

His directorial work since has done little to help Coppola with his money problems. However, he apparently decided to expand his horizons by opening a winery with a loan from his mother. It seemed to have worked as the winery has been a big success helping Coppola alleviate his finances.

There are valuable lessons to learn from these people who didn’t let debt get the better of them. Their stories certainly helped me in a time of need.

What other famous people can be learn debt lessons from?

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Erin Thompson

Erin Thompson spent years managing her own blog about budgeting and debt. Because of that, she has great insights not only about managing spending and borrowing but also about running websites profitably. When she's not writing articles for us, she's traveling and looking for new types of wines to try.
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