Hey everyone! We have a fantastic dear debt letter from Brittney. Brittney took out student loans to get her undergraduate degree, then promptly did everything wrong. She spent years in denial before finally coming to terms with, then learning how to manage, her debt. She now works as a writer and editor for BadCredit.org, where she uses her personal financial journey as inspiration to help others overcome their own mistakes, and make better financial decisions.
I owe you an apology.
I hate to admit it, but for the longest time, I hated you. I couldn’t even stand the thought of you — except to pass blame.
Every time I made a financial stumble, you were my go-to excuse. For years I blamed you. Each silly, ignorant, or downright stupid mistake became entirely your fault. I was so sure that without you, everything would have been exactly as I wanted it to be. I convinced myself that you were the source of my troubles — and you had done it all on purpose.
But none of it was your fault. It was mine.
It took a while, I’m ashamed to say, but I finally accepted the truth. I realized that you weren’t out to get me. You didn’t try to ruin my credit, or put me behind in my financial goals. You couldn’t have known that I would make so many poor decisions, and get into so much trouble.
You just wanted to help me go to school — and you did.
You helped me venture away from home for the first time, to cross the country to the big city, where I could see my academic dreams unfold. You helped pay for classes, books, and even the roof over my head. You gave me the education for which I had been pining, and all I gave you was grief.
So, I’m sorry.
You weren’t the bad guy in our relationship; I was. I’m sorry I blamed you for all these years, when I should have taken responsibility for my own mistakes. I’m sorry I spent so long hating you, instead of fixing me. (Oh, and I’m sorry for all the horrible things I said about you to my friends.)
I’ve learned a lot since we first met. I’m done blaming you, and I’m done hiding from you. In fact, I’d even like us to be friends. I think we could accomplish some really amazing things, working together.
Here’s to the future.
Hey everyone! We have a great dear debt letter from Monica. Monica took on student loans for college, but didn’t find the career job that she had hoped for afterward. Instead, she flipped burgers for minimum wage, while living with her parents and taking care of her baby. Eventually, she would find the job she had been waiting for as an accounting clerk, and is now living with her fiancé and their daughter. While they both work in their fields, they are struggling with car payments, credit card debt, and student loan payments in order to move out into a home of their own. But today, she is taking a stand against debt.
When I imagined my life at 30, I expected living in my own place, married, maybe a kid or two. I did not imagine living with my mother in law who is NOT my biggest fan because I couldn’t buy a house. I did not imagine dreading payday because all it means to me is sitting at my dining room table writing checks.
I did not imagine having to decide between buying that yogurt my daughter loves like most women love chocolate, and buying an extra loaf of bread so I could make enough sandwiches for my work lunches.
I never wanted to be that mom that says “I can’t take you to the zoo because I don’t have the money,” but here we are. I pay my bills, but it always feels like a pinch, and with vision therapy starting, it’s only going to get tighter.
I knew that going in, but how do you tell your child, “you’re going to have to have a lazy eye forever because we can’t afford to pay for the therapy that could fix it”? You don’t. You grit your teeth, cut your spending wherever you can, and you make it work.
I’ve grown tired of you over a long period of time, but this is the last straw. I’ve cried myself to sleep too many nights. I’ve fought with the love of my life more times than I care to admit over you. I’ve found myself wishing I’d have a heart attack and die so my life insurance could pay you off and give my family a fresh start. Nothing in life is worth me wanting to die just to get rid of it, and that includes you.
I’ve been through unemployment, abuse, and being a single parent. I’ve been though anorexia and suicidal tendencies. If I’ve survived all of that, I can survive you. I will survive you. I guess I just needed to hear myself say it.
I’m taking a crazy step to make this happen. It won’t be be today or tomorrow, but one day I’m finally going to give you the swift kick in the butt you deserve. And I’m not coming back. I’m going to have my off days when I’m not sure of myself. I’m going to have days when I’ll scream into my pillow. But I will not quit. I will survive you.
Packing my emotional bags,
Hey everyone! Today, we have a great dear debt letter from W. Like many millennials who set their sights on graduating from college, the monetary cost of that milestone was not lost on W*. In total, she accumulated $65k in student loan debt. However, even as a quintessential product of the lower-middle class X-Generation, W* figured out soon after graduation that the typical path was not for her, and she is now well on her way to financial freedom and extremely early retirement. W and their marital partner K blog about their journey at Financially Free Millennials.
Dear Student Loan #1,
This may be a little blunt, but WOW! It’s unapologetically GREAT to see you go!
For the past 7 years, you have – frankly – been a huge burden. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but seriously…
Like, at first, having you around was amazing. I’ll never forget the day I met you. You were a big, fat check made out to ME…in the amount of $25,600. I had never felt so…worthy (or wealthy). I felt like it was the beginning of something great.
And it was great…for a while. You helped me pay for a year of college, my apartment, food that wasn’t Top Ramen or yogurt. You bought me a DSLR, which helped me progress my passion for photography. You even helped my parents pay off their car!
But then something changed.
See, when we first met, I still had my rose colored glasses on. I had a lust for you…for what you could buy me (and others)…for getting me out of jobs…for getting me through school.
What I didn’t realize, is that it all came with a price. And the moment I realized that, it was like a light turned on, and it was the beginning of the end for you.
For the next five years or so, you hung around like an awkward friend. I admit, I should have been upfront with you from the beginning. But part of me wanted to hang on, to relish in what we once had. I was being selfish.
But today is the day. There’s really no reason to keep you around any longer. You have put me through enough frustration, anger, sadness, and resentment to last a lifetime. You’ve also hindered me financially.
I won’t discredit you entirely, though. A lot of good came out of this relationship. You taught me to become accountable and responsible. You taught me dedication. The best take-away, however, was how my mind was widened enough to see through the bullshit game that “money” really is. You’ve given me the motivation to beat the system, to become my own boss, to reclaim 100% of my time, and to become location independent. And for that lesson, I am eternally grateful!
So let’s leave this on a high note. Thank you for the experiences and lessons, Student Loan #1.
Hello everyone! Today, we have a great dear debt letter from Sam. Sam graduated in May of 2013 from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with roughly $25000 of debt. Living at home for a year allowed her to nearly cut that amount in half, but once she moved out, Sam developed a few bad habits and managed to rack up a grand total of $35,000 between her student loans, credit card debt, a car loan, and a personal loan from her parents. She was able to get the total down to $23,800 at the start of 2016, and is trying to knock out the last $10700 before the beginning of 2017. Follow Sam and her experiences on her blog.
I like to think I’ve handled you better than most, but I know that our relationship is more one-sided than I’d like it to be. Though now I can’t wait to get rid of you, I still remember the times when I was so grateful for you and your help. I know that without you I wouldn’t be who I am today.
Because of you, Debt, I was able to continue my education when my parents had to give me some tough love my freshman year of college. You allowed me to realize that I hadn’t ruined my life, just learned a lesson the hard way, and because of that, I was able to forgive myself. After my first year back at school, though, I forgot a bit about the price I had to pay to be in your favor, and so I kept our abusive friendship.
Debt, even though I had three jobs in college, I used YOU to fund my drinking, my wants AND my needs, thinking that it was enough to use my income from my jobs for schooling. I was being mostly good — that counted, right? I knew that there was a (literal) price to pay to being friendly with you, Debt, but at the same time, that was FUTURE Sam’s problem, not present Sam’s, and so I ignored the negatives and only enjoyed your positives.
I know I am luckier than most people who graduated with me. I only had about $25,000 of debt, which, compared to others, is not much. The first year out of college, I had a job where I earned commission and I did very well. Couple that with living with my parents, and I was ready to start attacking you.
My parents always taught me to save a chunk of my paycheck, spend a small amount, and use the rest to pay off my loan. Sure I could pay it off in 20 years, but why accrue the interest? They told me that the sooner I paid you off, the better my life would be. So I did. I was putting over $1000 towards you every month. I had the idea that I would pay you off in less than two years.
But I didn’t, obviously. I was commuting over an hour and a half one way to work, and you knew the drive was killing me AND my car. So you helped me come up with a plan to move closer to work. My best friend had a similar idea, and we ended up moving in together in a nicer neighborhood, closer to both of our jobs.
Splitting the costs of housing and cutting down on transportation should make it cheaper, shouldn’t it? Technically yes, but it was around this time that I started developing bad habits. Bad habits like drinking more out of college than I did in college. Bad habits like getting drunk and buying lots of things off of Amazon (I both love and hate you, Prime). Bad habits like eating out for lunch EVERY DAY (Gasp! Such a no-no). You funded all of this, Debt. You allowed me to live above my means and yet hide the truth from everyone.
So even tho I had reduced you originally, Debt, before moving out of my parents by almost half, I managed to get seduced by you in a worse way – high interest credit card debt. Originally, I was racking up my credit card balance, but still paying it off in full every month. Eventually, it caught up to me and went to the point where I was carrying a balance. Instead of trying to pay off the balance, I started ignoring it. Long story short, I ended up with over $8000 of credit card debt. Couple this with my 2003 Dodge Neon dying randomly (RIP Thundercat), I had to find a way to get a new car.
Having stupidly assumed that my old car would die after I had saved enough for a new car (and without actually saving anything for a new car), I was in a bad position. I made sure to always have at least $1000 in both my checking and savings account, but I wasn’t trying to drain all of my accounts. So I had to awkwardly ask my parents to help me. Which, since they are amazing, they did. But that left me with $5000 that I owed them on top of the $14500 on my car.
This was my wake up call, Debt. I realized that you were controlling me, not the other way around. You had grown too much for me to handle on my own. I was so embarrassed, Debt. I was living like a fraud, making more than I thought I would two years out of college, and yet it wasn’t enough.
I started taking action to paying you down, never once telling my roommate, boyfriend, or even my parents how bad you have gotten. I think if I did, they might have helped, but at the same time, I didn’t want their judgement. I got myself into this mess, and I knew I could get myself out. And it’s that belief in myself that has gotten me this far.
At the beginning of 2016, I owed $23500ish between my student loan, credit card debt, car loan, and the loan from my parents. As of today, both the student loan and credit card debt are gone, and I have about $9000 left on my car and about $3000 to my parents.
I’m not as far as I wanted to be at this point in the year, but I’m determined to end our relationship, Debt. You keep trying to draw me back, but I’m smarter this time. I have a plan. I know how much I need to dedicate to you per paycheck to be rid of you. I don’t need you anymore, and I don’t intend on seeing you again once 2017 starts.
Hey everyone, we have an awesome dear debt letter from Taberah Joy, aka Pixie. Pixie wears many hats and is a self-proclaimed slasher – a lawyer/writer/energy healer/tutor/actor/director. She is working to pay off $50,000 and hopes that all those slashes can one day build a bridge to her financial freedom.
I don’t know where to begin. I am thankful for you in so many ways. As I am thankful to all my creditors who gave me housing and food, very essential things in life. I am thankful that you allowed me to live my life my way. I am thankful that I didn’t stay in any relationship because I was dependent on the other person’s money. You know who I am talking about.
You have been so very good to me. I am amazed at how I can now talk about us without shame, without fear, and without too much judgment. I come from a “cash on the barrel head” culture. A culture where my parents paid cash for all of their cars, and my grandparents paid cash for their house.
So getting involved with you was a risk, a taboo. And you know what a rebel I am. If someone tells me not to do something, the teenage me just goes ahead and does it.
You were there for me when I wasn’t sure of myself, when I didn’t know if I could do this thing called life by myself. You said I could. And I believe you. I believe you now.
Debt my darling I believe it’s time that we part. You have been such an integral part of my life. It is difficult to leave you. It’s difficult to do this thing on my own. But because you supported me, I know that I will make it. I know that I am resourceful. I know that the universe provides.
Thank you for everything. I know you will get along without me just fine. There are others who need you more than I do now. Go be with them. Comfort them. Instill them with confidence, with reassurance that life works out if you show up.
With much love and many thanks,
Hey everyone! We have an awesome new dear debt letter from Alaya. Alaya blogs at Hope+Cents, and is on a mission to provide help and show others hope in their financial situations. After conquering her $74,000 of consumer debt in two years, she now coaches others as they dump their debt and take control of their finances.
It’s been almost five years since we broke up, and I must say I do think of you from time-to-time.
Now, don’t get excited — it’s not in the way you think. I’m not pining after you or considering going back to you. What I think about is all the things you used to say to me and the promises you made. What I think about is how I just don’t understand you (or them) anymore.
In the fifteen years we were together, you convinced me that life was not possible without you — that if I wanted to do anything at all, it had to be done with you by my side. Somehow, I believed you. I gave you so many precious years of my life without ever challenging whether or not you were good for me. I bought into your lie that I couldn’t survive without you.
Looking back, I can see how you were able to deceive me so easily. I was naive. It never occurred to me that life without you was feasible. I didn’t realize that I could challenge that myth, nor did I have the patience or discipline at the time to do so. Even my parents, who introduced me to you before I was even old enough to have a relationship with you, believed your lies. I cannot blame them or be too upset with them — they thought you could offer me a better life than they could.
Now that I’m on the other side of our relationship, I cannot comprehend your promises. My older and wiser self knows what you offer is attainable without you. It may not come instantly or as quickly as it does with you, but that’s okay. My brain no longer can compute the benefits of cozying up with you.
You reached out to me a couple of years ago, and somehow, you managed to get under my husband’s skin. He suggested I think about contacting you “just this once.” Traitor! I couldn’t believe that after everything we did to rid our lives of you, he would suggest seeing you again. He tried to explain the benefits of reaching out to you, but I just couldn’t process what he was saying. He was speaking gibberish, and I didn’t understand it. I just don’t understand you anymore.
You are cunning, debt. You convince people that you are as essential as oxygen. You consistently reach out to my friends and family, and despite my warnings, some of them have started relationships with you. They are where I once was — captivated by your promises and unaware that they don’t need you. My hope for them is that they too will soon reach a point of not understanding you.
So, goodbye again debt. I would say I have missed you, but I haven’t. I’m sorry, but I just don’t get you anymore.
Take Care of Yourself,
Hey everyone! We have a great new dear debt letter from Tyler Philbrook. Tyler runs the blog I Am The Future Me. He talks about his journey from being $29,000 in debt to becoming financially independent by cutting costs, making more money, and making good financial decisions.
What a song you and I have had. I remember the day we were formally introduced, my 18th birthday. Truth be told, I thought of you as my friend, one of my closest.
You helped me gain the respect of those my own age, and even those older. With the ability to go to every restaurant and even pay for everyone there. Giving me new clothes, and covering a bill or two along the way.
All year long I would spend and spend, and when tax time came, you would demand the refund for yourself, never leaving any for me.
The song was sweet perfection to me. I would get everything I wanted throughout the year and you would get what you wanted.
You helped me to impress my girlfriend, who later became my wife. And when she lost her job shortly after we got married, you paid the electric bill and car insurance. I was so appreciative that you were there to help.
But then the song turned sour. You wanted more — more than a simple tax refund could give. You wanted more than we had — more than I could give.
It was then that I realized that you are not a friend, you are a criminal. You beat me up every month, cause my blood pressure to go far beyond what one my age should have. You forced me to work longer hours, and even more than one job just so you could get what you want.
Instead of being a friend, you have caused pain wherever you are. My wife and I fight over you, I became unhealthy from working so much and eating so poorly. My wife even works extra now, and her health started to go because of you.
Not anymore debt, no, I refuse to allow you to have this much power, this much pull. We have set a plan to get rid of you. Instead of fighting each other, we are going to fight you together. All the effort we have put into anything else is all going towards getting rid of you.
As for our health, you don’t control that anymore either. We have learned how to get healthy even with you hovering over our heads. And, debt, I have never felt better.
This song is coming to an end, debt — soon it will be no more. Unlike songs that I hear on the radio and think of times of my life, there will be nothing to remind me of you. No, debt, when this song is over, not only will you be gone, but the memory of you will be too.
Goodbye Debt, thanks for nothing.
Hey everyone! Today, we have a fantastic dear debt letter with a different take on debt from Kathryn. Kathryn is an Assistant Public Defender in Richmond, VA. When not in the courtroom, she writes as one-half of the duo behind the Dames in Debt blog. The Dames are sisters working off their combined $250,000 worth of student loans and consumer debt. Representing both coasts of the United States of Indebtedness, the Dames blog about millennial budgeting, saving money without feeling deprived, and how to live first-class on coach funds.
I know it’s been a while since we last talked, and I know you’re probably really mad at me for spending so much of my time trying to get rid of you. Sorry, it’s nothing personal – it’s just that I feel like we’ve grown apart. But there is something I really need to tell you: Thank you.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for making my dreams come true. Thank you for bridging the gap between scholarships and grants and the cost of my college degree. Thank you for buying me that super expensive, business school textbook that wasn’t on the syllabus that I had to pay two-day shipping for in order to receive it on time.
Thank you again for putting me through law school where the Cost of Attendance pales in comparison to what actual living expenses are for twenty-somethings. Thank you for paying my medical costs for those two years where I didn’t have health insurance and for that time my car was making a funny noise and needed a new filter.
Thank you for being there for me when I desperately needed help with no one else capable of helping. Thank you for feeding me, clothing me, and supporting me from ages 18 to 25. Thank you for driving me two hours every day during the summer so I could take summer classes and graduate early. Thank you for letting a 19-year-old old buy a car by herself so I could actually do most of the things I’ve done in life, especially for allowing me to be a Girl Scout troop leader.
Our time together hasn’t been amazing, but it wasn’t the worst either. You didn’t judge me when I soothed my dad dying with a rather large amount of food, and you were there, proudly beaming, when I graduated with my Juris Doctorate (something not everyone in my family can say). You were there for me whenever I needed you, and for that, I am truly thankful.
You’ve watched me grow from the person who worked two or three part-time jobs plus full-time school in to someone who can support herself entirely on a full-time salary and still save a little for the future. You’ve taught me the value of hard work and heck of a lot about compound interest. I’m happy to say that with all of your help, I’ve become a person that doesn’t need you anymore, and I’m sure you’d tell me you’re happy for me.
I know a little part of you will be with me for at least the next ten years (although we’ll be drifting farther away each month). I’m sad to see you go because of everything you’ve stood for these past few years, but I know you’re going to go help some other 18-year-old old make her dreams come true. You were worth every penny, and if I could do things over again, I’d totally take you out again.
I’m glad we met, and I’m thankful for our relationship over the past few years. Good luck with everything in the future – I know I’ll be seeing you around at least for a little while, but I guess I felt I owed you an explanation for why we’ve been drifting apart. You were there for me for so many things, and even though the rest of you will be forgiven in the future, just know that I’ll never forget you and all the things you did for me.
Hey everyone, we have a great new Dear Debt letter from Pamela. Pamela is a personal finance blogger that likes to help other millennials eliminate their debts. Her professional and educational background is in accounting/finance, but she has not always been good with her own money. After some learning some life lessons, she and her husband embarked on a journey to pay off $120k of debt in 2.5 years. They now live debt free and are building their wealth while she blogs at her site, MyMoneyCounts.org. This witty letter comes from her experience with debt.
It’s been a roller coaster ride with you, but it’s time we part ways. I don’t know how much more uncertainty I can take from you. You said you would always be there for me. I thought you had my back, but you lied to me.
There were so many secrets and lies you kept from me. How can a relationship grow that is built on lies? Like the time you said you had my back and convinced me to buy my living room furniture on credit. You told me we could afford it. You said we would be OK, so I listened. Or when you told me that you would take care of me once I was done with school and encouraged me to spend the little I had and more without giving a second thought. But I am done with school now and your words were just empty promises. Where is the help? Where were you when I needed you, debt?
Why am I even surprised? You were never satisfied with what I could give you. You always wanted more and more from me. The more I got for you, the more you wanted. I felt like I could never do enough for you. Like the time I got us the big screen TV and game system, but that wasn’t enough for you. You wanted the new laptop and cell phone too.
Was it ever enough for you? Did I ever make you happy? You used to make me happy. I used to get so excited to see you. We had some of the greatest times together, you and I. Like the time we went on the road trip together or bought all those cool things together. You use to whisper sweet nothings in my ear. You had me wrapped around your finger. Then the trips, gifts and promises stopped coming. Then you stopped coming around. Now, when I look at you, I can’t trust you anymore. You deceived me… so I am moving on.
I will just come right out and say it, I met someone else. His name is cash and he is so good to me. He never lies to me or deceives me. He always has my back and is satisfied with what I can give him. We are building new memories and going on our own adventures together, cash and I.
I want to say thank you though, because if it wasn’t for you, I would never know how great a healthy relationship could be. Cash is the love of my life, and I have you to thank for it.
So long, and have a good life. Please change your ways so you don’t mess up the next girl’s life. Oh and don’t forget to lose my number.
Hey Everyone! We have a fiery new dear debt letter from Lindsay. Lindsay has always been the outdoorsy type, which is why she got two degrees in wildlife biology and conservation. After graduating, however, she was crushed when the only job she could get was as a lab animal caretaker. As her finances started tanking, she decided to learn more about how to manage her money. Eventually, she started a blog to document her journey, and then began freelance writing to start saving and work her way out of debt. She hopes to one day find her way back into the wildlife field, but will continue writing as long as she can. Check out her blog at NotoriousDebt.com.
F@<% off. It’s time for you to go.
We used to have a great relationship. You convinced me that with your help, I could do anything I wanted. Because of you, I moved across the country just two weeks after graduating from high school to start my adult life and get two college degrees. Because of you, I bought a house and a truck to go with it. Because of you, I paid for a surgery when my husband got sick, and to fix my house when it needed major repairs.
But the truth is I didn’t need you for any of this.
I could have saved the money I made while working through high school and college. I could have worked harder to get more scholarships. I could have saved up to buy a cheaper vehicle outright. I could have saved up money in an emergency fund and a health savings account so I could have paid for the doctor’s bills and the home repair bills in cash. But instead of realizing this, I became more dependent on you.
I wanted more things, but I didn’t know how to save up for them. Instead, I relied on you more and more when things went south. Over time, much like my little cousin Kelly*, you began barging more and more into every aspect my life. I couldn’t just go out with friends; you wanted to come too. I’ve never been on a real vacation with my husband, because I had to stay and work to take care of you instead.
No more. It’s over. You’re not the savior I once thought you were.
Instead, I’m going to save up for myself, like I should have been doing from the start.
I’m working on saving up an emergency fund of three month’s living expenses, so I don’t need to rely on you when shit hits the fan. I’m saving up for my husband’s education. I’m saving up to go on a real vacation this summer. I’m saving up to buy a car.
Truth be told, I’ll still need you at some point in the future. I don’t know if I’ll be able to save enough to buy a car outright by the time I need one. I’m saving up for a down payment on a house, but I won’t be able to buy it outright.
But you will no longer be my crutch. I’m standing on my own two feet now.
So get ready – because after I’ve saved up my emergency fund, I’m coming at you full-force.
P.S., Eat a d!<%.
*Name changed to protect identity and prevent awkward family reunions