Hey debt fighters! Ready for another dear debt letter? This one comes from Nair. 

Dear Debt,

Wow, we have been doing this dance for so long. You have become such a key feature of my life and my story. I’ve wrapped myself in you and used you as an excuse for putting off so many things in my life and keeping people at arm’s length.

It’s time now to say goodbye and let you go. Let go of the behaviors that make me feel unworthy, shameful and stuck in a loop.

Sometimes you were there to help me out in emergencies but most of the time I used you as a crutch to help me through hard or uncomfortable times when I didn’t want to confront the real (emotional) issues I was dealing with.

I’m letting you go now so that I can move on and enjoy the next season of my life. The season of freedom, real independence and wealth. I’m ready to stop paying for and reliving the past on a regular basis. I’m looking forward now and excited to live a life full of choices and opportunities.

Thanks again ‘old friend’ but I’m off!

This post is in: dear debt letter

Hey debt fighters! We have another great dear debt letter! Melissa is the blogger behind SunburntSaver.com, a blog for Millennials looking to get ahead by leaving debt behind. 

Hey Debt,

When I talk about you, debt, I turn into a different person. Everyone who knows me would characterize me as a happy person, ever the optimist. There are few things in life that I can’t see a silver-lining to – that’s probably why Pollyanna was my favorite book as a kid.

But when it comes to you, I get bitter. Some might call it “Millennial whining” but I prefer to think of it as “wanting what’s fair.”

I followed your playbook up until this year. I was raised to be a nice middle class girl by nice middle class parents, and I stuck closely to the middle class playbook:

In the past, this worked! It was a great middle class playbook. I’ve done everything “right” according to the middle class playbook, but what do I have to show for it? Yes, a great house and a great marriage. But also $500 down the drain, every month, to pay back loans (for the next 15 or so years, according to calculations!)

And for what? Debt, you know this already, but other countries are proud when their smart kids go to college and get good grades. I know this because I’ve been to those countries and have friends, my age, who graduated from college in those countries. They tell me stories about graduating with no debt – and one friend even got a stipend for her good grades in her country.

Debt, you have a stranglehold on people in the US. When I bring the subject of middle class debt up, I’m laughed at and ridiculed. Everyone wants nice, highly educated people like me until we ask “why?” Why does the richest country in the world not want to pay for middle class and lower class kids to go to college?

Then we fall back to the playbook:

Debt, I have to hand it to you – you did a great job of selling the American dream (and burden) to the middle class. And don’t worry, debt, you already know I’m going to pay every penny of you back, because the middle class playbook is tough to break. I won’t shirk my responsibility, although I won’t enjoy it.

But the joke is on you, and everyone who tells me I should have stuck to the playbook. That $500? When I’m done paying you off, you won’t see that $500 doing any of this:

I guess I did find a silver-lining in all of this, debt. When I’m done with you, I have no interest in falling back into your middle class playbook. I will not live in a big city and buy a new car every 2 years. I will find a way to pay for myself, always, no matter what that looks like. I will never look down on people who have debt and are struggling.

I’ll be done with you one day, debt. But I won’t be done fighting against you – I’ll just move on to helping the next nice middle class person struggling with the middle class playbook they were sold.


This post is in: dear debt letter

September 28, 2017

This blog post is part of the Suicide Prevention Awareness Month blog tour in partnership with Debt Drop. If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.

Melanie’s note: This post is from my mom, who lost her father to suicide. 

This is a story that I’ve told to very few.  This is a story that if I told, it was typically only in terms of the highlights and typically only to those I trusted. This is a story that my own daughter only heard two years ago.  This is a story that is long overdue in the telling.

My story took place in June 1962.  Tuesday, June 12th to be precise; five days before Father’s Day.  In 1962, I was a five-year-old kindergartner and the youngest of six children.  On this particular day, I was home sick from school with an ear infection.  This was in the day when school started just after Labor Day and ended in mid-June.

At home with me was my mom and my dad.  My mom was a traditional housewife and my dad worked as a bank guard.

Since it was June and close to Father’s Day, my kindergarten class had been working on special cards to give to our Father’s on Father’s Day.  The card was made of heavy cardboard and cut in the shape of a man’s dress shirt.  The shirt was white and had a striped tie.

I remember how hard it was as a five-year-old to keep a secret but I was bound and determined to keep the Father’s Day card a secret until Father’s Day.  However, that didn’t mean that I was not going to drop hints to my daddy about it.

I remember being in my daddy’s bedroom (yes, they did have separate bedrooms) and I was teasing him about a surprise that I had for him and telling him he was going to have to wait until Sunday to receive this surprise.

He kept trying to get me to show him the surprise then and there but being bound and determined to keep this a surprise until Sunday, I didn’t immediately give in.  He kept urging me to give him the surprise now and stated that “he might not be here on Sunday”.

After a few rounds of this conversation, I reluctantly retrieved the card out of its hiding place and gave it to him.  I know he liked the card and thereafter urged me to go downstairs and help my mom with lunch as my older siblings would soon be home for their lunch break.

Although I was mad at myself for not keeping the surprise a secret, I did as I was told and went downstairs to help my mom.  She was in the midst of opening a can of soup (Campbell’s Chicken Noodle) and I told her that I had given daddy his Father’s Day card.

Suddenly, we heard a noise like a loud door banging shut.  Something about the sound stirred my mom to action and she ran to the bottom of the stairs and yelled out my dad’s name a few times and when he didn’t respond she rushed up the stairs.

Something told me that something scary was going on and I remained rooted at the bottom of the stairs.  Not more than a minute went by and my mom seem to fly down the stairs.  She ran past me and out the front door to the neighbor’s house.

Something again told me that something awfully scary was happening and I wasn’t far behind her although I didn’t really know what was going on.

My next memory is of being sequestered at the neighbor’s house while a lot of activity was going on at my home.  I was able to look out the window and see a lot of people arrive including my great Aunt Elma; people from my dad’s work and the police.

I also remember seeing my brother B.D. (who had just celebrated his 12th birthday the day before) sobbing while standing with his arms folded on a metal fence with his face resting on his arms.  I still did not have a clue what had occurred.

I don’t remember much about the next few hours other than someone took me to the doctor so I could receive medication for my ear infection.  I also vaguely remember hearing about my other siblings arriving home from school and how they learned the news of what happened at my home on that afternoon.

To this day, I can’t believe kids can be so cruel. I also remember hearing that my Aunt Elma in a misguided effort to be helpful, swept up evidence in my daddy’s bedroom before the policy had a chance to thoroughly investigate.

I don’t remember what was actually told to me about what happened.  I do remember the next few days were a blur of activity.  Someone bought me a really pretty dress to wear to the funeral and a lot of people were paying attention to my mom and family.

My Father’s Day card was propped up on my daddy’s coffin and was buried with him.

This is not something that has been an open discussion topic my entire life.  For those that I’ve given the highlights to here are answers to the questions I’ve typically been asked:

— I don’t know when I first actually heard the word “suicide”.
— I don’t know how my mom explained to me how my daddy had taken his life with a bullet to the brain.
— He didn’t leave a note so I don’t really know why he did it.  My mom always alluded to him having a terminal illness but to my knowledge, this has never been verified.  A few years back my sister C.M. heard from a family member that he had gambling debts that lead to this action.  I don’t know if this is true.
— I do remember hearing (but not sure I’ve ever seen) that he touched a calendar or a picture of Jesus with his bloody hand.
— I do know my mom did not kill my dad – despite the cruel statement a neighbor boy relayed to my sister B.J. on that fateful day
— My mom would never, ever discuss this.  If this was ever brought up, even years later, she would tear up.  The only time she ever voluntarily brought this up was in a card to me when I was in my 20’s when she spoke of us being together for a “mutual sorrow”

Here’s how my five-year-old self-interpreted this event:

— The initial attention was overwhelming yet exciting.  A lot of people made promises (most unkept) to my mom about things they would do for her or for us.
— My new party dress was pretty even if it was intended to wear at a funeral
— I used to think that if only my card had been good enough……he would not have taken his own life

Here’s how I’ve handled this most of my life:

— It’s very rare that I disclose this to anyone and if I do it’s typically only the highlights
— For those I do tell, there is often a “judgment” passed (or at least this is what I perceive) not only on his actions but also on the probability of me leaning toward that action as well.  When Robin Williams took his life a few years ago, it was a topic of conversation at work.  I was just about ready to confide my history to someone but stopped myself when I heard someone discuss the probability of Robin’s children doing the same action he did.

Here’s how it’s impacted me:

— I grew up in a single parent household.  His action left a 38-year-old widow with 6 children ranging in age from 5 to 16
— I’ve always had difficulty “bonding” and getting close to people.  It took me a long time to figure out why but I believe it’s because I don’t want to bond because I fear that I’ll bond and have something taken away from me
— I don’t have a role model on how to interact w/ men either personally or professionally
— Since I was the last one to speak to him, my inner 5-year old in me still wonders if there was something I could have said to alter history

What I’d Like Others Suffering From Suicidal Thoughts to Know:

— Think about who you might be leaving behind and the hole you’ll be leaving in their lives
— Consider that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem
— Look back on your life and consider other problems you’ve had and how those have turned themselves around
There is no shame in seeking help

It’s been cathartic to write this and I sincerely hope my story helps others.

This post is in: Uncategorized

This blog post is part of the Suicide Prevention Awareness Month blog tour in partnership with Debt Drop. If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.

No one likes to talk about what it’s like to be suicidal or actually have suicidal thoughts. To someone who has never had thoughts like this it seems frightening.

Now, I do believe there is a difference between having thoughts and actually planning to do it. But the thoughts are scary enough and could lead to action if not treated properly.

As I learned from Lynette, this is called passive suicidal ideation. According to her post, “Passive suicidal ideation is the desire to die. It’s not accompanied by a plan to end your life, but the thoughts are real and intense.”

And those thoughts can be very real for people suffering under the weight of debt. People in debt may be more inclined toward suicidal thoughts. In fact, those who die by suicide are eight times more likely to be in debt. It’s a correlation we can’t ignore.

It’s personal

I wish I could say i didn’t have a relationship with suicide. But I do. My maternal grandfather committed suicide. So did my cousin. And I’d be a liar if I said I never thought about it.

The first time the thought enters your mind, it jars you a little.

The thought creeps in, unwelcome yet overwhelming. You wonder, “How could I even think this?”

I’ve written before that I’ve had these thoughts as a teenager. Unfortunately, earlier this year some of those thoughts returned. Every day was a battle and I was not doing well. I’d wake up with this overwhelming sense of doom and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something terrible was going to happen.

As I learned, sometimes the scariest place to live is in your head.

Getting Help

I had no idea where these thoughts were coming from and why. I relinquished control and said, “I can’t do this alone.”

After trying exercise, meditation, healthy eating, therapy and more, I still wasn’t where I needed to be. So I went on medication. It’s been 10 years since I last touched medication, but at this point, it was something that I needed.

That month, I also decided to get my first tattoo to remind myself that I’m resilient and that my story isn’t over yet.

As you can see, I’ve replaced the “i”s with semicolons in honor of Project Semicolon.

Project Semicolon is a Suicide Prevention Awareness organization — the semicolon is used as a metaphor — an author uses a semicolon when they could have finished their sentence but chose not to. In this case, the author is you and the sentence is your life.

Your story is not over yet. I have to keep reminding myself of that still. Through therapy and medication, I can happily say those thoughts are gone and I’m in a better place. I asked for help and took action. I have a support network in place and am actively working on myself.  

It’s a work in progress every day. If you are feeling this way right now, you’re not alone. I’ve been there. And so have many others, too, which is why I want to #EndTheStigma. If you had a broken arm, you’d see a doctor.

If your mental health is suffering, you should get help and there is absolutely no shame in doing so. In fact, it could be the best thing you’ve ever done.

Just remember that there are resources out there.

You matter. You’re important.

Your story is not over yet.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Project Semicolon

This post is in: debt

September 15, 2017

As you might have noticed, it’s been awhile since I posted. I’m not proud of that but sometimes life just gets in the way.

Sometimes it’s about surviving what’s ahead and dealing with “in real life” stuff rather than my ramblings online.

I love this space and want to continue to nurture it but I also need to take care of myself. This year has brought physical health issues, mental health issues and most recently, the dissolution of my 9-year partnership.

Though it is for the best, I am completely devastated. It’s been a rough couple of weeks that have tested me in many ways. At times, I could not stand to take it “day by day” but only minute by minute. It’s been difficult to eat. To sleep. To let go of those dreams that you held so dear. The ones that will never happen the way you imagined.

I feel like I’ve lost a limb and I’m learning how to function again. I’m learning how to stand on my own two feet again without having an emotional crutch. Now that everything has cracked, I see all my faults come to light and am trying to become the best person I can be.

It’s a journey. If you want to follow along, you can keep up with my personal writing.

While my love life was imploding, I was trying to keep it together for Lola Retreat, the love + money retreat Emma and I have been planning the last 10 months.

And let me tell you. It was beyond anything I could’ve imagined. It filled me up with so much joy and hope to be around so many incredible women. We laughed. We had fun. We got deep about the issues around love + money (I may have lost it during that session), money mindset and more.

Check out these amazing pics by my friend Kathleen Celmins. And if you want a serious case of FOMO, listen to the Martinis and Your Money episode we recorded live at Lola.

We had pretty sweet swag

Emma Pattee and Melanie Lockert

Welcome Reception sponsored by Wealthsimple

Tonya Rapley of My Fab Finance

Saturday programming



Wish you were here. Postcards by Honeyfi

Closing brunch

Lastly, I decided to organize the Suicide Prevention Blog Tour again this year. This is an issue near and dear to my heart and more relevant than ever. If you’re a blogger, there’s still time to contribute, so contact me!

Anyway, that’s why I’ve been radio silent here. Between the big projects and events and the overwhelming grief, I’m taking it minute by minute.

I am focusing on being resilient (oh yeah, I got my first tattoo a few months ago. Semicolons in honor of Project Semicolon).

This post is in: life, relationships

July 24, 2017

Hey everyone! We have another dear debt letter from H, who lives in Salt Lake City and works at a nonprofit. 

Hi debt,

I’m not going to be mad at you. I’m over that phase. Because… I guess I hope this is all just part of growing up. Plus, I’ve beaten myself up over and over and over again, about you.

You stressed me out from the start. I’m from a smart and complicated blue collar family (but that’s an entirely different story) and it seemed like the fear of not having enough money just wafted around the house.

My dad lost his job in the 2008 crash, so when I graduated from high school in 2009, I didn’t even need to ask how I was going to pay for college.

A lot happened during college. I got mormon-married at barely 19 (another entirely different story), and promptly divorced.

I graduated college with a rather useless B.F.A in 2013, and since so much of my meager income was going to student loans, I got a credit card.

And, to be honest, I didn’t become a crazy spender. I don’t live a lavish life by any means, but I always want to be the one to buy my friend’s drinks, and by the end of the night, everyone else’s at the bar 🙂

I wanted to fly impromptu to visit my boyfriend while he was working in New York. And I wanted him to think I was beautiful (Which he always does anyway) so, I bought some $35 dollar facial primer from Sephora (I know, as if that shit actually works).

I don’t want to be a free-loader or seem cheap to my boyfriend, or my friends and family. So, I just sort of paid for more things than I truly could afford, and my debt crept up.

I would love to pay off my credit card debt by my 27th birthday (I’ve got about 10 months). So that I can be more responsible, and save enough money so if I ever do have a kid, I can help them get whatever useless degree they set their sights on.

Cheers, (And fingers crossed) that I can get my ass debt free by my 27th birthday.

This post is in: dear debt letter

July 19, 2017

Hey debt fighters! I’ve been working hard on the Lola Retreat, so have been MIA. In the meantime, we have another great dear debt letter from Mrs. Picky Pincher. She is the blogger at www.pickypinchers.com and writes about paying off debt while living the good life. 

Dear Debt,

Ah, you and I go way back, don’t we?

I first met you when I was 9. Ahhh, young love.

I borrowed $20 from my dad so I could buy the latest Pokemon game. At first I didn’t think I could buy the game because I didn’t have the money, but my parents introduced me to you, Debt. They could loan me the $20 so I could get my game today and pay them back later.

This was a concept that totally blew my 9-year-old mind. I could get something now and worry about paying for it later? Whoaaaa. I should do this all the time.

Since I didn’t have an income, naturally I had a hard time getting rid of you, Debt. I realized it would take me three months of my allowance to get rid of you! Ouch!

After a few months of hoarding change in my piggy bank, I dumped you for the first time. I was young, but dang, it felt great to be free again. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn my lesson.

I didn’t see you again, Debt, until I was 21. I graduated early from college and thought the world was mine for the taking. Little did I realize that my degree came with an $80,000 price tag. I was also needy. I needed your allure and luxury: the $450 car payment, the student loan payments, and $14,000 in credit card debt. I cloaked myself in your brilliant sheen so I could look like everyone else who had you on their arm.

I was 21 and had several thousand dollars of you in my name, Debt. I was addicted to signing on the dotted line and only now realized what that meant.

Of course, my first job paid peanuts compared to the cost of my degree. Thanks to you, Debt, I struggled to meet my rent and wondered how I could afford the week’s groceries. I knew I was the one who let you into my life and that it was my fault, but I didn’t know how to get rid of you.

It wasn’t until I let another man into my life that things changed. I married Mr. Picky Pincher in 2015 and that’s when I found a way to dump you for good, Debt. Mr. Picky Pincher knew you too, and combined we owed $225,000. Ouch.

We knew you were a problem, but it didn’t become an emergency until I realized we had no savings. We couldn’t even imagine a savings account because we were in the red every month. And forget our dream of buying a house!

I was utterly ticked off. In the summer of 2015 we made a plan to evict you from our lives. Man, it was so much work. Getting rid of you was like lugging a belligerent 300-pound couch potato out of my house.

We canceled cable, stopped eating out, stopped shopping for fun, and stopped going to the movies. Instead I learned how to cook at home (a feat for a subpar cook), rent movies from the library, pickle and can produce, cut my own hair, shop at the thrift store, and sew my own clothes.

It didn’t happen overnight, but one day we realized we had $200 extra after making these changes. It was exhilarating, but it wasn’t enough.

We moved across the city to a cruddier apartment just to get rid of you, Debt. We were able to save an additional $400 a month on our rent, although herds of ants and roaches came with the territory. We even got rid of my car and I walked to work just to get rid of you, Debt. We were finally able to save $1,000 a month, which we used to pay off our credit cards each month.

After further cutting, we eliminated $14,000 of credit card debt in 10 months. Once that debt (and its minimum payments were gone), we were ready to go for the big ones: student loans.

Debt, you might think that you had us on these student loans. I thought so for a while, too, but we did conquer these loans. My dad graciously paid for the majority of my college degree, leaving me with just $25,000 of student loans. Thanks to changing our lifestyle and eliminating other debts first, we were able to kill that $25,000 of debt in 7 months.

Oh, Debt. You were probably heartbroken once that last check went in.

But you know what? I hate you. After seeing how easy it is to bring you into my life and how hard it is to make you leave, I’m done with you. There isn’t going to be any more of this on-again off-again business. This breakup is final and lasting. I’m going to sleep well for the rest of my life knowing you’re not on my doorstep anymore. Good riddance!

This post is in: dear debt letter

Hey debt fighters! We have a different kind of letter today from new blogger The Lady in the Black. LITB, aka Erica is a 40-something single mom, freelance writer, and published author. She was inspired to start her blog based on her ongoing struggles to manage her personal finances.

Dear Money,

I have been thinking about writing you for a while but I really wasn’t sure where to begin. All I do know is that I’ve wronged you and you deserve an apology. However, I’ll admit that the apology is not completely altruistic. Forgiveness would help me move on and my hope is that we could, one day, grow closer and have a more mutually beneficial relationship.

Truth is we have hurt each other a lot.

Looking far back into my childhood, I can see you and I got off to an extremely rocky start. You presented yourself to me first as shiny silver dollars. You were cherished little glittery gifts that I stashed safely away in my little miniature mailbox coin bank. I was infatuated with you. Not because of what you could get me but because you were beautiful and you were mine. That is, until the day you ran away with my sister to the video arcade. You traded yourself into dirty little quarters which granted my little sister hours of Asteroids and Ms. PacMan! How could you!?!? I was so hurt. I felt betrayed by you and my sister. Now, in hindsight, my sister was just a little girl who wanted to play and took something that wasn’t hers. That’s what little sisters do. And you? Well, I suppose you weren’t responsible. You didn’t abandon me. The child in me only remembers the loss. The child in me didn’t appreciate my parents attempt to give me an allowance in such a special way to teach me of your value. I FORGIVE YOU, MY SISTER. I FORGIVE YOU, MY MONEY. 

As I grew, I felt ashamed how you seemed to avoid me and my family. You really weren’t making yourself available to us. It was embarrassing to have to shop at the bargain stores when my girlfriends all gossiped about their weekends at the cool CrossGates mall. They sported their Jordache jeans and Sony Walkmans while I hiked up my no-name leg warmers and feathered my hair with the generic comb, tucked safely in the back pocket of my jeans from Caldor. Our family was “middle class” with a working dad, stay-at-home mom, and 3 kids (staggered 4 years apart.) Where were you? The child in me remembers the government chunks of Velveeta cheese and special reduced-priced lunch tickets. I remember wearing “high-water” jeans and scruffy sneakers. The child in me remembers feeling like “having money” wasn’t something attainable for us. The child in me didn’t appreciate how hard it must have been to budget a single-income and feed a family of 5, especially during dad’s 18-month long union strike. I truly wonder how they did it. We were well-fed, well-mannered, well-educated children living the American dream. I FORGIVE YOU, MY PARENTS. I FORGIVE YOU, MY MONEY. 

When I was in college, reveling in the new-found independence of my first apartment and my first true love, you bailed on me with him-that-shall-be-not-named, when he dumped me and took off for Florida. I had nothing! You both broke my fucking heart and I was literally starving. I’d scrounge up $10 and buy a pizza from down the street. That pizza was my breakfast, lunch and dinner until it ran out. I had no phone (the old kind), no friends, tons of difficult schoolwork, and a broken heart. I binged watched China Beach on TBS and cried my eyes out for months. The victim in me put everyone to blame, especially you, Money. The victim in me didn’t acknowledge that I was successfully scraping my way through college. I was tough and building up my resiliency. Most importantly, I didn’t acknowledge it was temporary. I FORGIVE YOU, MY FIRST LOVE. I FORGIVE YOU, MY MONEY. 

And while I could continue on, elaborate the times in my marriage when you were such a hot topic, I really want to focus on what I feel like was the most profound disappointment you ever gave me. You know what a trial my divorce and custody battle was. You saw me fight with every fiber of my being to build a new life for me and my child. You saw me move 3,000 miles away to reclaim the person I believed I was but never felt comfortable being. You watched as I started a new job and suffered one of the greatest tragedies of my life. I’ll admit you did support me a bit when I had to tuck my tail between my legs, admit defeat, and once again uproot my life for the benefit of my child. You knew it nearly broke me. And yet, when I was in exile in a desert land, miserable, lonely and afraid, you left. I got fired because I was miserable. I got dumped by the love of my life because I was miserable. And you were no where to be found. The victim in me felt punished for trying to be independent and doing the right thing. The victim in me didn’t acknowledge that I put myself in that absurdly vulnerable position with no safety net or plan B. The amazing truth is that you did come back for me. You returned when I was at rock bottom. First, you were gifts from the man who loved me but couldn’t “save” me. Then, you were a comfortable and loving place to stay while I got on my feet again. You were the great-paying freelance contract I landed straight out of the gate. You have spent the last year surrounding me, comforting me, rebuilding my life and my dreams. You’ve given me the strength to live life on my terms. I FORGIVE MYSELF. I FORGIVE MYSELF. AND I THANK YOU, MY MONEY. 

Since I’m now quite literally in tears, I suppose I’ll just sum it up by saying that it was me that chose to remember you in a negative light. It was me who cast you as the evil villain and myself as the damsel in distress. You are just you, Money. I see that now. And now that I’ve pulled up my big girl panties and committed to truly taking care of myself in every possible way, I hope that you and I will have a very positive future together.

And even if you try to take off one day, I won’t let you. You aren’t everything to me, Money, but you are important and I plan on keeping you around.

Your Repentant Friend,

The Lady in the Black

This post is in: debt, money

June 12, 2017

Hey everyone! Ready to break up with debt? We have another inspiring dear debt letter today from the blogger behind Sobredinero.com, a personal finance site for Latinos. 

Dear Debt,

We first met when I was in undergrad.  Tuition at a private prestigious university for 4 years was well over $100,000!  Then one day as I was strolling through campus, I came across a booth of kids who were smiling, handing out free gifts, drinks, and…gasp…credit cards.

You mean I could apply for a credit card, get instantly approved, and get a free Nerf ball all in the same? Sign me up!

I remember my friends and I having a ball for the next few weeks as we racked up thousands in credit card debt over beer, pizza, electronics…you name it. Hell, it was free money in our eyes!

Fast forward 4 years and I was debt free. See, I got a pretty good job coming out of college working for Fannie Mae (this was before the financial crisis). I also was fortunate enough to get grants and help from my parents to pay for undergrad. My debt, including the credit cards, was gone.

Now I bounced around from job to job for awhile, and became disillusioned with my work so of course I went back to school to get my MBA. I was fortunate enough to get accepted to a great school, and figured that the $110,000 price tag was worth it because I would make so much more money upon graduation.

Yeah, didn’t happen. I graduated and actually ended up making LESS than what I made prior to grad school. My old friend had returned with a vengeance!

But, I must say, I greatly expanded my network, and more importantly, I started my own business. The fundamentals I learned in business school gave me the courage to start my own personal finance website Sobredinero.com, and I now am well on my way to paying down my student loans.

To be fair, it will still be a long journey, but I suspect that you won’t be around much longer because I have increased discipline and knowledge through my blogging about saving, credit, debt, investing etc…

I am no longer afraid of you for I have learned the difference between good vs bad debt. I am not afraid of you anymore Sallie Mae, Navient…whatever you’re calling yourself these days. Bring it on!

This post is in: dear debt letter

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the CO-OP THINK conference in New York City. The conference was all about credit unions and this year’s theme was “digital transformation.”

In many of the sessions, we talked about digital disruption and what companies need to do to stay relevant.

Time and time again we heard about how companies like Uber and AirBnB are taking over and disrupting industries. In fact, one staggering statistic from one of the sessions noted that many of the business models in place today will not be around in five years — or will be something else completely.

Talk about disruption.

The same thing is happening in financial services. Why? Because the old model no longer works. Millennials have an inherent distrust for traditional financial services, especially in a post-Great Recession world.

We want convenience, accessibility, and transparency. Luckily, there are several financial technology companies out there that are bridging the gap and turning financial services on its head.

Here are 5 FinTech apps disrupting financial services right now.  (Please note, this post contains affiliate links but all of my opinions are my own.)

1. Tiller

Have you ever struggled with budgeting or tracking your money? Tiller budget spreadsheets might be the answer for you. Named 2017 Best Budgeting Service by FinTech Breakthrough, the service easily syncs your bank transactions into a Google Sheet (where my spreadsheet nerds at?) You can use one of their templates or create your own. The cool part is you also get daily emails about your transactions as well as your balances, so you can easily stay on top of your money.

The cost is $5 per month — or one latte per month. There’s no risk though as you can try it free for 30 days. Interested? Sign up here.

2. AutoGravity

You’re in need of a new car and you want to know your financing options. The last thing you want to do is walk into a bank or a dealership, running around town trying to find the best rate.

What if you could know your financing options before ever setting foot into a dealership? Using AutoGravity, you can. AutoGravity was one of the Best of Show winners at Finovate Fall 16 and helps consumers get transparent information about their financing options.

Using your smartphone, you can see what offers are available and have control over your auto financing. Check it out on your mobile phone or on their website.

3. Debitize

Do you want the convenience and security of a credit card — but want to stay out of debt? Debitize can help. Debitize deducts the amount of your credit card purchases from your checking account each day and pays the credit card bill at the end of the month. Essentially, you can still use your credit card but have it act like a debit card by deducting purchases from your account. The best part? It’s absolutely free.

4. Chime

There is almost nothing I hate more in life than paying unnecessary fees. Just, why?! That’s why I’m flummoxed why some people pay banking fees. Again, why?

If you want to avoid banking fees, I’d say look for a credit union or an online bank. One of the best online banks making a splash is Chime. There are no monthly fees or minimums, no overdraft fees and more. I also really dig their Automatic Savings program, too. They round up each purchase you make with your Chime card and put it in your savings account. Bonus: You get a 10 percent weekly bonus on the roundups. Using Chime, you can also get daily balance updates so you know where you’re at with your money.

If you sign-up before June 30, you’ll get a $5 deposit upon opening an account.

5. Empower

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all of your financial accounts and trying to keep track of it all? Using Empower, a new money management app, you can keep tabs on your spending, categorize your expenses, set savings and spending targets, and transfer your money.

The beauty of Empower is it’s all on mobile, making managing your money a breeze. Currently, it’s only available for iOS users but they’re working on an Android app too. Also, it’s free!

Bottom line

As a personal finance writer, I have to say I’m excited to see this shift in financial services. There are more apps and services that cater to consumers’ needs and offer convenient and accessible products.

Have you tried any of these apps? If not, which ones are you excited to try? Any other favorite apps you want to share?

This post is in: Uncategorized