$57, 426.14.

The current amount of student loan debt in my name, all for the curious pleasure of having B.A. and M.A. added to my résumé. I was always told student loan debt was “good debt” and that one should value education. To an extent, I still believe those things to be true. However, I don’t believe that education should be this expensive. Young people should not be saddled with this burden.

I could go on and on about the scam of student loans, the fallacy of grad school, and the overall business higher education has become. But this is not what this blog is about. It’s about something entirely different, because quite frankly the situation has become a Do or Debt situation. Debt simulating my very real, metaphorical and financial deaths; I must save myself from this fate.

This blog will be my attempt at keeping myself accountable for paying back this large sum of money. I am not waiting for any bailouts and I know full well the onus is on me.  In addition, I am looking to create a community of like-minded people, to motivate and inspire each other. I am a personal finance nerd and love reading blogs and books on the topic. However, I never feel like I can completely relate to the stories being told.

The standard narrative is that people get into debt because of their lifestyles. I’ve read all the stories about people downgrading their lifestyle, selling their cars, homes, and electronics to become debt free.  I’ve read about people making 100k, but can’t pay off 20k in debt. But what about the rest of us? I’ve always subscribed to and maintained a very minimal lifestyle—and in regards to income, I am barely making 20k a year (clearly, not by choice). Last year, I moved from one coast to the other with two suitcases to my name.  I’ve never had a credit card and in general, I’ve never had a hard time paying my bills. I don’t have anything to sell or to downgrade.

So what is the answer?

My only real solution is to make more money. To increase my income potential and continue chipping away at this enormous debt, that keeps me up at night.  In this moment, my work situation, like so many others, is unstable.  Ironically, my income was much higher before I went to grad school and I am still transitioning into this new city. I’m very much into side-hustles and making it work.  In my dreams, I will be debt free in 4 years. It’s an ambitious goal and with my current income, absolutely not possible. Image

But I am positive that 2013 will bring so many good things—a change in jobs, increased opportunities, community and an outlet for writing on this blog.

Tonight, I will rest a little easier knowing I have made a commitment to myself (and the internet) about my goals. Tomorrow, I move forward, even at a snail’s pace with my debt payoff.


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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12 responses to “Do or Debt: Battle Against Student Loans”

  1. Good luck with your debt payoff! It’s great to make extra money….but don’t forget to focus on cutting your expenses!

    Have a great weekend!

    • doordebt says:

      Thanks, Holly! Yes, I agree. I’m cutting back on the few areas I can. For me, it’s as much about balancing my expenses (including having some fun) and making more money to pay off debt.

  2. Really enjoyed this post. It’s nice to hear a fresh, passionate voice! Looking forward to the follow up.

  3. I think getting started is the most daunting part of paying off debt. You don’t see any real dents in the number and sometimes it feels discouraging. You have to stay focused on your goals and make any and every effort to attain them. I equate paying off my student loans to my half marathons. The beginning is slow and forever, the middle is long and boring, but once the finish line is in sight you build up your momentum and plow through to the finish. I’ve finished Half Marathon races, but my Student Loan debt will be my longest marathon race!! Good Luck to both of us!

  4. doordebt says:

    You are such an inspiration, Ron! We can do this!

  5. You can do it! As a person who has finally started to focus on my student loans the repayment process can seem really overwhelming. But, once you have a plan it can be done. Looking forward to reading
    about your journey.

    • doordebt says:

      Thank you! I need all the motivation and inspiration I can get 🙂 It is overwhelming, but having a plan and support does make it easier. Thanks for reading!

  6. […] able to pay more towards more debt, my debt payoff timeline won’t change. If you go back and read my first post, I state that paying off my debt with my current income is impossible.  Now it is possible, […]

  7. […] feeling pretty helpless. I needed something, anything to change. So I started this blog and with my first post I declared war on my debt. The odds were not promising as I stood with little hope, making […]

  8. kevin watts says:

    Life is not really easy when you have so many debts to settle. However, after all life goes on. There is no reason not to be happy. Just like what you said, just be positive no matter what life has to offer.
    kevin watts recently posted…Creating a Home Away from HomeMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Yes! So many things have changed since I wrote that post. I got a job, am freelancing, paid off 18k. Student loans are rough, but you can move through it. You don’t have any other choice really. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Kevin!

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