I am so excited to share my debt totals today. This is a far stretch from my lackluster payments the past few months, which I was embarrassed to share with you.

But finally my income has started to increase. Finally my hard work is paying off.  It’s the greatest feeling in the whole world to have my income improve and have people come to me for work.

I feel like when you first start out, you hustle hard, work for low pay and you are trying so hard to build a name for yourself. If you work hard, those things do all work in your favor — eventually.

Before you think I have a glamorous life, or that it has come easy, let me offer some perspective. My RescueTime tells me I have logged nearly 60 hours a week since I started. I also work every weekend and every day — something that I’d like to change. Even so, I’m still grateful.

Starting this blog was the best thing I ever did. Yes, this blog itself hardly makes any money (no Adsense here), but it has served as a platform for my writing. It’s my own little space on the internet. And I’ve met the most beautiful and inspiring friends — and I hope to make more at FinCon this year (are you going?!)

So, drum roll please…

I put $1,700 to debt, $300 to my moving fund and $100 to other savings goals. That’s $2,100 towards debt and savings this month! I know for some debt rockstars that’s a normal payment and I applaud you! But let’s review my financial situation.

One year ago my take home salary from my nonprofit job was $1,800 per month. And the year before that, I was working a seasonal temp job and bringing in $1,300 a month.

Essentially, I put the equivalent of my old salary and then some towards debt and savings! I can’t believe it.

If you’re a long time reader, you know that when I started this blog I was not in a good place. I got a master’s degree and moved to Portland to be with my partner and could not find a full-time job. After previously having a successful career in LA, (which also at its max only made $38,000), I was disheartened and deeply in debt. Everything felt like a joke and a sham.

When you are in that deep of a depression, it’s difficult to remember that there are blue skies beyond the gray clouds. All you see is the storm and it feels like it will never go away.

I want to cherish this moment because I want to remember that good times and bad times come and go. Nothing is forever. So if you are dealing with a particularly tough time right now, have faith, and keep trying. It will get better. I promise. It may take years and test your patience and make you feel like you are losing your mind. But life isn’t for the weak, it’s for the fighters. You can do it.

Because I’m dealing with an upswing right now, I want to practice gratitude for this moment. It could be stripped of me and things change month to month. So I will celebrate this win and continue to work hard and be grateful for everyone that has helped me along the way.

After putting all that money to debt, here are my final numbers:

Undergraduate Loan: $5,490.83
Graduate Loan: $25,293.67
Total Debt: $30,784.50

Ahhh, I’m so close to getting to the twenties! Probably next month. I took out a total of $81,000 in debt in my lifetime and when I graduated with my M.A. in 2011, I had $68,000 left.  I’m hoping that I can continue on this path of growing my income and expediting my debt repayment. Even though my payments have been large, relative to my income, this process is still dragging out. I am sooooooo done with debt.

All of this has me questioning my potential move, which is crazy. I keep wondering if I can just hold on a little longer and enjoy the lower cost of living (compared to where we want to move) and kill this debt in a year or two.

We’ll be making a final decision about everything in August, so we’ll see. But I’m worried as I generally don’t love Portland nine months out of the year, but the summer is so freaking glorious here. I will try to make an unbiased decision in August, but I know the nice weather will be cooing sweet nothings in my ear.

So, that’s my exciting debt update! Also, if any of you have been dying to write a dear debt letter, I’d love to feature your letter over the next two weeks while I’m on vacation. People generally feel some sort of catharsis through the process of writing a breakup letter, so I highly recommend it.  🙂

How was your debt repayment this month?


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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53 responses to “I Just Put the Equivalent of My Old Salary to Debt”

  1. Nicola says:

    Congratulations on being able to pay off such a fantastic amount! You are so close to the $20s! 🙂
    Nicola recently posted…How To Declutter Your House Without The StressMy Profile

  2. I think its time to consider yourself a debt repayment rock star!
    I’m undecided about fincon. I’ve never been, and I wonder if I should save the money.
    Robin @ The Thrifty Peach recently posted…Granny Chic Thrift- Learn How to SewMy Profile

  3. That’s wonderful! It’s such a good feeling t make a huge debt payment — but even better to see your hard work literally paying off.
    C@thesingledollar recently posted…Zero Food Waste 2015 Week 14: Don’t Buy In Bulk, Buy Bulk (plus weeknight soba noodles for one)My Profile

  4. So happy for you Melanie! I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the upswing continues! You’re right in when things are tough to just hold on and keep holding on till things turn around!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…Get Over It!My Profile

  5. Kirsten says:

    Melanie, I am so happy for you! I do hope you can cut back your hours, but I know there’s probably a bit of a rush because you know it’s literally paying off!
    Kirsten recently posted…Overwhelmed By Student Loans: Start With a BudgetMy Profile

  6. I am going to FinCon. I’ve already bought my ticket and booked my flights. Super pumped about it! Can’t wait to meet everyone, soak up some knowledge, and make some new connections that hopefully lead to more/new jobs. 🙂
    Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore recently posted…The State of My Back YardMy Profile

  7. Debt Hater says:

    Awesome job!! That’s a huge payment and you should be under 30k with your next payment. It’s a great feeling when your hard work is finally paying off (literally in this case)!
    Debt Hater recently posted…Student Loan Progress – April 2015My Profile

  8. SOOOOOOOOOOO excited for you Melanie!!!! This is HUGE and you are just one payment away from hitting the 20s which is so freaking awesome!!! Congrats girl! You work SO hard and I am glad it’s paying off for you!
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Music Mondays – SexyBackMy Profile

  9. Alexis says:

    Congrats–you’re getting close! I’ve never thought to think about the amount I’ve put towards debt since I started paying in November 2013–I’m a third through my (current) salary.

  10. Everything happens for a reason! It sounds like all your work is paying off. I can’t wait to read about when you knock that number into the 20’s, and then the 10’s, and then… !!!
    MarieMakesCents recently posted…Money Mentalities: Are you a Satisficer or a Maximizer?My Profile

  11. Michelle says:

    Great job with your debt repayment! You are doing great. You’ll be in the 20’s very soon 🙂
    Michelle recently posted…A Complete Guide To Renting A Room For Extra MoneyMy Profile

  12. MJ says:

    Great job! How exciting. It’s really inspiring to see how all the hustle is paying off.
    MJ recently posted…5 Money Mantras to Practice DailyMy Profile

  13. Holy cowwwww lady, nicely done! Excited for you — that’s a wonderful update and you should feel incredibly proud of the progress you’ve made. You’re really kicking ass! 😀
    Kali @ XY Planning Network recently posted…6 Ways to Spring Clean Your FinancesMy Profile

  14. Congrats! It’s always so exciting when you’re able to make headway.

    This last month was a banner one. We were able to put $2,000 into savings. It was like a dream!

    Granted, the money is already spent on an upcoming medical bill. But at least it’s progress toward that goal. It’s sort of like prepaying our debt.
    Abigail @ipickuppennies recently posted…I’m alright (and that’s not okay)My Profile

  15. Jessica says:

    That’s great that your hard work is paying off and you were able to make a nice payment towards your debt! I’ve had a really expensive month and unless something changes it looks like I’ll only be paying my minimum payment or only about $100 extra to my loans this month. But, like you said, as long as I keep working towards it and things will get better.
    Jessica recently posted…30 by 30: Second Quarter ReviewMy Profile

  16. Congrats on your progress! Keep on going and before you know it, all that debt will be gone!

  17. Isabella says:

    This must be SO encouraging for you! Congratulations!

  18. Michelle says:

    I am so proud of you!! And when it’s paid off and someone says “You had it easy.” I will the friend who laughs and says “Melanie worked her ASS off!” And, I’ll buy you a drink 🙂
    Michelle recently posted…Taking Time To Slow DownMy Profile

  19. Petra says:

    Congratulations, and well done. Keep it up!

  20. Chonce says:

    Congrats on the debt and savings payments that’s awesome! You story is very inspiring as well 🙂 I made a large payment on my debt this month thanks to a tax refund but I’m hoping to pick up more momentum throughout the rest of the year. I’ll be attending FinCon as well, I’m pretty excited.

  21. Great job Melanie! I’m looking forward to pay my debt too before this year ends, “hopefully”. 🙂
    Kate @ Money Propeller recently posted…What Happens to your Future Self when you Max out your TFSAMy Profile

  22. Tre says:

    Congratulations! It feels great when you can put a large payment towards your debt.

  23. Lisa says:

    Mel, this is amazing!!!! I could only hope to make this much progress in one month! Great job 🙂 As always, I’m rootin’ for ya!
    Lisa recently posted…How to Get Promoted Sooner Than ExpectedMy Profile

  24. Congratulations, Melanie! What you say about the transience of bad times is so important for people to bear in mind. Sometimes, the best you can do is to hold on – and that’s good enough. So glad you’re having the opposite experience now. I hope it is a long lasting stage. Perhaps Portland winters won’t be so bad when everything else is going so well?
    Prudence Debtfree recently posted…Author’s Visit Sparks Insight on Motivation for Debt-ReductionMy Profile

  25. Eric says:

    Great job with that big lump payment! I know how it feels to inch closer to paying off the student loans.

    Thanks for letting my site be a stepping stone on the way to the great things you are doing now!
    Eric recently posted…My $1000 Online Business Failure – The Reusable Bag Store – Personal ProfitabilityMy Profile

  26. Money Saving says:

    Congrats Melanie! You go girl! Don’t forget to also invest some money 🙂
    Money Saving recently posted…MoneyAhoy.com is Two Years Old!My Profile

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