Hey everyone! We have a moving dear debt letter from Heather today. She is proof that so much can change when serious illness hits…and also is proof that you can overcome so much. Heather Von St. James is a mesothelioma advocate living in Roseville, Minnesota with her husband, Cam, and daughter, Lily Rose. Heather loves gardening, Starbucks and working on behalf of mesothelioma awareness. To reach Heather, email her at heathervsj@mesothelioma.com.

Dear Debt,

We’ve had a long and tenuous relationship, you and I. You seduced me way back in the day of “Columbia House Records.” I could get all those CDs for just a penny, but only being a teenager I didn’t read the fine print. I didn’t realize I was on the hook for more. See, my parents never discussed money with me. I was never taught how to budget, how not to use credit, or for that fact, how TO use credit. My parents had their own financial struggles, and all I knew was that sometimes there wasn’t much food in the house and my mom cried a lot.

Now, a lifetime later, I understand all too well how you destroy lives. Oh, you are a temptress, though. All the possibilities, the promise of more than you can deliver. And you are so easy to get! Student loans, credit cards, store cards, places just willing to give you a chance because of a number.

I learned the hard way. I almost lost everything I had to realize that you were no good. See, I got sick with a cancer called mesothelioma. That is all it took. I lost my job, and my health, and faced the very real possibility of losing my home, my marriage, and my life. On top of everything, the medical bills started piling up. I have never been so afraid in my life.

There are so many things I wish I could go back and tell my younger self. Things like “get disability insurance,” “those shoes aren’t worth it,” “a purse can’t pay the bills.” But I don’t know if I would have listened. I was lucky though. My family helped out. My parents, who had made so many mistakes in their youth, learned their lessons and were able to help us through a tough time. They paid off our debt, and I was able to defer my student loans due to financial hardship, but all this did was postpone the debt for later.

I fought for my life, through surgery, chemo and radiation, and while I could, I paid you down. I did everything I could to get rid of you. I’m still learning all these years later. You are still tempting. Seductive. You say things like “C’mon, everyone’s doing it, everyone has debt, it’s not a big deal… “ but as I get older and am planning for my daughter’s future, I know that it’s all lies.

No amount of credit feels as good as money in the bank. So as each month goes by and my balances get smaller, and I celebrate paying you off, I’ve vowed to break up with you forever. I’m done with the one-sided abusive relationship and have gotten into a secure and loving one. Goodbye forever debt, I am not going to miss you.


Heather Von St. James


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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7 responses to “Dear Debt, I Am Not Going to Miss You”

  1. I’m so sorry you had to endure all of that. I’m glad you are doing ok and I wish you the best of luck on paying back the rest of your debt!

  2. Sanjib Saha says:

    That was one moving letter. Being in debt is probably one of the worst feelings in the world as you feel constricted and tied down. So, your letter is an inspiration to all for getting rid of their debts and making their pathway to success.

  3. Thanks for sharing your story Melanie…!!
    Getting in debt is very easy. Debt basically consumes you and it feels like you have no way out. I think by talking about your debt you can deal with the situation better. Taking small steps can you restore your confidence and you won’t feel it to be a burden anymore.

  4. EL says:

    Hey good luck in 2017 with medical concerns and the financial ones too. It is so crazy how 1 thing can change life so drastically. I think we all need to learn those lessons from time to time, to avoid the mistakes life has stored for us.
    EL recently posted…Milestones Realized in 2016My Profile

  5. Stephen says:

    Best of luck with paying off that debt!

  6. Sophia says:

    I am so thankful to you for sharing your story with us. Everyone will be inspired by your thoughts. In my point, I want to say when it comes to debt, act early. If you cannot figure out perfect value or time when you will get out of it then no need to go with experts they will take too many fees. You can use online tool for debt reduction or find some information for debt reduction. Best of luck for further life.

  7. As someone named John, it is wonderful to read your “Dear John” letter to debt. Good luck!

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