Hello debt fighters! We have a raw, story-filled dear debt letter for you today from David. David is from Quito, Ecuador and currently lives in Brazil. He’s been working as a freelancer, teaching people how to make ice cream (yum!). He is also a talented Spanish/Portuguese translator and teacher. If you are looking for a translator/teacher, let me know and I’ll get you in touch! 

Dear Debt,

I don’t feel comfortable calling you dear, you know? Because of you, I have felt unhappy for the last four years of my life. Or maybe more. It all started as an open door, as a possibility to become someone thanks to you. But now I realize what an idiot I was for letting you enter my life. Because you are destroying it, you are destroying me. I’m miserable because of you, and this has to end.

How big are you? Well, let’s look into the whole thing.

I’m from Ecuador, South America. In Ecuador, 80% of the population is and has always been poor. Luckily, I’m not part of that 80%, I was lucky enough to be born in a middle class family which has always struggled but somehow managed to do just fine in life. My dad is a professional, he worked for over 30 years in the same company and was always able to provide for his family.

In 1999 the whole country went to bankruptcy because of the errors and corruption of the government, and after the disaster, they decided to change our national currency from the “sucre” to the american dollar. This was done in order to stabilize the economy, which luckily was somehow achieved. I was starting college when all this happened, so I went through a very hard time because everything became really expensive back then when the conversion from sucres to dollars was made, but I managed to graduate.

It wasn’t easy to get a job, a third-world country isn’t exactly the best place to grow as a professional. But I did, in 2005 I got a job that was considered to be good (if a $500-a-month salary is good). And immediately all major banks and credit card companies started offering me their products. Of course I needed to “get on track”, so I accepted some credit cards and started using them, like an idiot.

So, every month I would use all of my salary to pay for my credit card bills. And of course, I would use the damn credit cards for practically everything because I would always find myself without money. So it became a vicious circle.

My salary somehow grew a little, first to $600 and then to $800 (all this in about three years).  I don’t remember having had a good time when I wasn’t in debt, when all of my money didn’t go to the credit cards. And to my surprise I didn’t have anything really, I didn’t have a car, I didn’t have a house of my own, nothing. And I swear I didn’t just spend all of this money.

The interest I was paying was what was eating me alive. So one day I said “STOP IT” and I started living with about $100 a month, and using the rest to pay as much as I could off my credit card bills so that I would finish them and be free.

The day came when I finished paying and I couldn’t be happier, it was finally over! Two more years had gone by and I was earning $1200 a month, which was much better (I know it’s ridiculous for americans to think about such a poor salary, but that’s reality in South America).

But then the disaster started all over again and I haven’t been able to get out of it ever since. In 2011 I met someone, who is now my life partner. I went on vacation to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, thinking “ok so you have paid all of your debt, go there, have fun, and then you come back and pay it all and that’s it” but life had other plans. I met my now partner on vacation and things went so well that we really fell in love for each other and we decided we didn’t want to be apart.

So after a lot of thinking and talking about the possibilities, we decided that because I had a steady job and a better social and economic position in Ecuador than he did in Brazil, it would be better for him to move to Ecuador and not for me to move to Brazil.

Because of immigration matters, none of us could work legally in the other’s country, so we were going to have to figure out what to do. Since he didn’t speak Spanish, only Portuguese, he was definitely going to need to learn Spanish in order to live in Ecuador. Besides that, I was still living at home (yeah, it’s normal for latins to live at home until you get married) but I couldn’t stay home or bring him there, it didn’t make sense. So I was going to have to get a place for us.

So, long story short, I rented an apartment for us and I found a place where he could study Spanish. But of course, if we wanted to get him a visa so that he could stay in Ecuador for at least one year and then maybe apply for another type of visa which would allow him to work, he had to enter a Spanish course that would provide us with the documents the government asked for so that they could give him the one-year student visa. And that could only be done in a University, in which the course cost $300 a month (remember how much I made?).

Anyway, after a lot of effort, I was able to rent an apartment, enroll him in the Spanish course and we bought the airplane ticket, which was about $800.00. He arrived and I couldn’t be happier. We moved to the apartment immediately and he started studying and eventually he got the visa, so we were calm about that.

But remember I said he couldn’t work with that type of visa? So I was the only one paying for everything and sooner than later I found myself using the damn credit cards again. I would never blame him and I would never allow anyone to blame him because it was not his fault at all, he has never been a gold digger or acted as one, and I say this now because probably many people will assume he was taking all of my money but that’s not true. It’s just the way things happened.

So I was, again, using all of my income to pay for my credit card bills. And sometimes I would have to take loans from the credit cards in order to be able to pay rent. And then the nightmare started again and hasn’t ended since 2012.

To make the story shorter, in 2013 I lost my job, My boyfriend finally got a resident visa in Ecuador, so he could work, but the fact that he was legally allowed to work doesn’t mean that he was able to get a job.

So he started teaching private Portuguese lessons in order to help, but it just wasn’t enough. We somehow continued struggling, I started working as a freelancer and was able to keep going, but never leaving the sad and desperate debt situation.

The situation was so damn hard and complicated, and the debt would only grow a little bit more each month.  So in January 2015 (exactly one year ago) we decided we couldn’t keep living like this anymore and we talked it over and decided to move to Brazil, considering I could get a work visa right away and Brazil’s economy was supposed to be much better than Ecuador’s. So in March 2015 we made the crazy move and moved to Brazil.

Little did we know Brazil’s economy was going to go to hell in 2015 because of all of the corruption cases and that the brazilian currency, the real, was going to fall so much. When we arrived it was around 2 reais each dollar, today it’s 4.

My debt is in Ecuador, so when I came to Brazil for every dollar I owed I needed 2 reais, now I need 4. I haven’t been able to get a steady job in Brazil, neither has he. Just ridiculously paid jobs that are enough for rent and food, but that’s it. Going back to Ecuador is not an option, because we’d just go back to the same.

My debt is about $18,000. I have 600 reais in my account, which is about $150. I don’t have any work projections for the following weeks, and my rent is due on the 26th. I will probably have the internet cut on the 10th because I don’t have any money to pay for it.

We have some frozen food which is all we can eat. We spent New Year’s Eve eating a hot dog. My family can’t help me, they have their own problems. His family can’t help us either.  On Monday I have to pay $700 and obviously I won’t. So the bank will call my house in Ecuador and will ask it from my parents, I’m behind on many other bills, about $2500 that I should have already paid.

So, Dear Debt, you are destroying my life. But today, on the first day of 2016, I have decided I won’t let you win. It’s either you or me, because we can’t live together. And I’ll be damned if I let it be you.

So, I’m sorry to tell you but I have decided that I am going to hunt you down and I’m gonna kill you. I have it in me, I know, and I just hope I can get the strength to be the man I am and get rid of you. I hope I will be back here on January 1st, 2017, telling all these nice folks that I destroyed you before you destroyed me. So fuck you Debt, let me be free! Leave me alone!

Melanie

Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

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9 responses to “Dear Debt, I Won’t Let You Win”

  1. David I’m glad that you have taking a stand against your debt. It won’t be easy to rid debt completely from your life, but it is very possible and I hope we get a follow up letter to read about how debt no longer resides in your life. Good luck in 2016 and thank you for sharing.
    Petrish @ Debt Free Martini recently posted…Making the Most of Your ResolutionsMy Profile

  2. Nice letter!!! It’s comforting to hear other people talk about killing their debt the way I want to kill mine, too!
    Natalie @ Financegirl recently posted…The Ultimate Guide to Frugal LivingMy Profile

  3. Michelle says:

    David, I was so moved by what you shared and I am sending good energy, thoughts, and prayers your way. I am wondering have you had a chance to walk in a park, the mountains, somewhere quiet…by yourself…to figure out what your next most important step should be? Then, instead of doing what you’ve been doing have you looked into offering a niche service that people need help with that you could offer? Brazilians work with tons of other Spanish speaking countries maybe there is a niche that ISN’T translating but helps them collaborate with Spanish speakers? Or, is there a service you could offer to help English speaking travelers to Brazil? You WILL overcome this and we will support you along the way.
    Michelle recently posted…2016 Goals, Dreams, and New BeginningsMy Profile

  4. David, thank you for sharing such a powerful story. You absolutely can and will win! I love the last few paragraphs, heck yeah!

    I’m looking forward to your January 1st, 2017 update! You’re awesome. You can do it!

  5. Mortimer says:

    Amazing story. You can do it! Can’t wait to hear more!
    Mortimer recently posted…Talking to My Kids About Saving Money for FreedomMy Profile

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story, David. It’s a powerful one and I know you will crush your debt! Currency fluctuations can be brutal and I hope it turns more in your favor the next couple years.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…My 2016 Goals – and How I Plan on Accomplishing ThemMy Profile

  7. My goodness, that’s such a tough story! I really hope you do manage to kill your debt this year!

    Have you thought about working abroad for a year? I know it’s not ideal to think about spending a year apart from people you love, but you can often make good money that way. Or applying somewhere like a cruise line?

    You could also look at American sites looking for translation work – the rates might be higher and if you’re fluent in English, then you could offer English/Spanish and English/Portuguese translations too.
    Mel @ brokeGIRLrich recently posted…Since When Did Dining Out Become So Cheap and Easy?My Profile

  8. Debtman says:

    What a tough and powerful debt letter, David. Thanks for sharing it with us. Wishing you all the best on your debt journey. And I too hope that you’ll write a follow up letter next year saying just how much you crushed that debt!
    Debtman recently posted…How Is Everyone’s 2016 Going So Far?My Profile

  9. Dawn says:

    Hi David. First of all, you are amazing. This article didn’t just tell me to get my life in gear regarding my debt, but is a clear eye opener about life. The differences in the economies, not being able to work without a visa, how different things are everywhere. It’s absolutely opened my eyes to learn to be grateful for all we have. I appreciate your letter because I’m tired of figuring out how to pay this or that. I should’ve never gotten into debt. Especially student loans. It feels like they never go away. Best wishes and abundance of favor to you. Can’t wait for your January 1st 2017 debt free letter!!!!!

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