August 4, 2013

Hello! Welcome to Dear Debt. This website is for dreamers, hustlers, debt fighters, minimalists, and frugal lovin’ adventurers.

My name is Melanie and I started this blog in January 2013 to keep myself accountable in the debt payoff process. I paid off a total of $81,000 in student loan debt. I borrowed $23,000 for my undergraduate degree and $58,000 for my graduate degree. After paying the minimum toward my loans for five years, I graduated in May 2011 with $68,000 left. I paid off $68,000 in four and a half years, $30k of that in 2015, after doubling my income.

More background…

I graduated with a degree in Theater in 2006. Luckily, I found a job pre-recession in Arts Administration in Los Angeles. For three good years, I enjoyed working and serving the community through the arts.

In 2010, I unexpectedly got into my dream school, NYU. I was lured by the beauty of New York City and one of the best Performance Studies programs in the nation. Getting a master’s was on my bucket list, so here was my chance. So I quit my job. I left everything behind and moved across the country.

The fancy private school cost a pretty penny. It was three times more expensive than my undergraduate degree.

While in New York, I was living off of $14,000 I had saved up and was working three jobs, so that all my loan money would go to tuition and not living expenses.

Upon graduation, reality hit. The recession was still lingering and my master’s didn’t mean much. It was a piece of paper. I struggled for a while trying to find a job, and then moved across country again to be with my partner in Portland, Oregon.

I had an even harder time in Portland. I found seasonal work and temp jobs, but couldn’t find that elusive career job. I felt like someone pulled the rug from underneath my feet.

I did everything I was told. I went to school, I worked hard, and I got good grades. I had both school and work experience. But I couldn’t find a job. At this point, I started feeling very low. Not only low, but alone.

After lurking on other personal finance blogs, I decided to start my own blog in January 2013. My life has changed so much since then. Early blog posts documented my struggles with finding meaningful work. I was later able to find a job, but after a year, I made the big, scary transition into self-employment.

Somehow talking about my struggles, building community, and coming to terms with my financial situation had turned me into a writer. I am now writing for a living.

This blog has been my solace, my embrace, my fortune, and my hope. I thank you for being here. I’ve met so many awesome people along the way.  I paid off the last of my student loans in December 2015, one year before my self-imposed deadline.

Want to know more about me? Check out these 20 things about me. Want to know something else? Just ask! I’m a pretty open book. Email me at deardebt{at}

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