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.



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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6 responses to “Dear Debt, You Make Me a Bitter Betty”

  1. Jackie says:

    I love that you found that silver lining, and will keep on fighting debt 🙂

  2. Chonce says:

    Love this! I think debt can turn anyone into a bitter Betty, but most people don’t do anything about it! Good for you for recognizing and getting things done!
    Chonce recently posted…10 High-Paying Part-Time Work From Home JobsMy Profile

  3. It really is hard, and it’s totally okay to acknowledge that. I can relate. Best wishes as you continue your debt repayment journey.

  4. LouAnn Gray says:

    I am glad that you could find the silver lining! I hope that people reading this will understand that you don’t have to play by the playbook!! Make smart financial decisions early in life and continue them throughout. Debt surely makes all Bitter. Thanks for sharing. I’m with you, not playing by anyone’s playbook but my own.

  5. ZJ Thorne says:

    I also get bitter that our government no longer values education. I finally read “Lower Ed” and her framing of the risks that used to be on employers and the government being shifted to individuals/students who are also charged significantly more for the necessary degrees was fascinating. Education should be a public good.
    ZJ Thorne recently posted…Someone’s Blog Made Me Come Out of the Closet – For RealMy Profile

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