I am listening to music, drinking Pumpkin Spice Chai and feeling pretty good. This is a far cry from a few days ago when I wrote about falling behind. Some days I feel great, some days are mediocre and some days I just want to hibernate and not wake up until I am debt free, because the depression is so real.

It’s a certain feeling of stuckness. It’s the weight of comparison and regret that lay heavy on my shoulders.  With every move, I am trying to avoid any missteps. I try my best not to dwell on what feels like a mistake and view my life as an adventure. I’ve played the boss and the housecleaner, I’ve lived, loved and traveled, and although this one particular aspect of my life seems to define so much for me at this point, I know I’ve lived an incredibly rich life.

To remind me of this fact, I need to constantly tell myself that it’s not where I am now, but how far I’ve come.  When I started this blog, I was seasonally employed and making a paltry wage.  For two years post graduation, I didn’t have health insurance.  I had a hard time adjusting to Portland and making friends. I was also mired in debt and 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 $20k/year with $57, 426.14 of student loan debt.

Nine months later, I am so happy that my life has changed so much. I got a full-time job, (with 25% pay increase) one week shy of my contract ending and got health insurance three months later. This blog has been a great outlet for me creatively and personally, and it’s given me the ability to connect with so many people. I remember how alone I used to feel.  Now I have real life friends who I met because of this blog. I have people who inspire me to continue and not give up. In 9 months, I’ve paid off $10, 783.09! In my first post I said I wanted to be debt free in 4 years (at 32 years old) and at the time that was impossible, but I wanted to set my intention out to the universe. I still have a long way to go, but my goals are actually on track!

Current Debt: $46, 643.05

Because such good things have happened from writing down what I want, I thought I’d establish some intentions for the rest of the year and more specific goals for October.


– Go out to restaurants only once a week (this is my only real vice!)
– Practice Spanish, Portuguese and French on Duolingo.com 5x per week
– Finish one book
– Write a guest post
– Confirm three more people for my Dear Debt Letters project
– Finish recording a song with my partner (he’s a musician, I sing) 🙂

Goals for the rest of the year:

– Make my first $1 from my blog
– Grow Dear Debt Letter project
– Side hustle enough so that I can continue paying $1,500 per month towards debt (do you hear that universe?)
– Learn how to drive stick shift

What are your goals for the rest of the year? And don’t be so hard on yourself. Re-define success and keep trying.


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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46 responses to “It’s not where I am now, but how far I’ve come”

  1. Optimistically I want to pay off my debt in 4 years too but with a wedding, honeymoon and other grown up things to plan in the next few years, 5 years is more realistic for this Girl 😉 I think your Dear Debt letters are a fab idea and I can’t wait to write mine except I suck at poetry so please be patient! 😉
    Girl Meets Debt recently posted…End of September 2013 Debt Repayment UpdateMy Profile

    • deardebt says:

      It’s still very optimistic for me. I don’t have some of the things you do, but I also have an addiction, er love of traveling and I know I can’t wait 4 or 5 years to do that. I am planning something pretty epic for my 30th birthday next year 🙂 Also, no pressure on the letter. It doesn’t have to be poetry either. It can be whatever you want it to be!
      deardebt recently posted…It’s not where I am now, but how far I’ve come My Profile

  2. dojo says:

    We need to save a lot for our incoming baby, so it’s gonna be tough. But we’re doing OK, cannot complain. Whenever I feel like I’m in a mess, I just look BACK and try to remember where I come from. And it’s a relief to see that, not matter what life throws at you, you’re still doing well.

    Keep up the good job and fight. Nobody said it’s easy to change your life as much as you did, but the results start showing 🙂
    dojo recently posted…Timothy Ferriss – The 4-Hour WorkweekMy Profile

  3. Isabella says:

    I think it is amazing how far you have come. Keep fighting the good fight. It does help to write things down–the progress and goals. It helps to keep things in perspective. I bet when you get under $40,000, you will have a second wind!

  4. It’s funny how much I can relate to this post even though my “problem” is not debt, but more of the feeling of somehow being behind. It’s not to make you feel bad, but to let you know about that grass is greener thing so hopefully you don’t feel alone. My low feeling is not making enough money (to live in LA) and other life things like not having enough retirement, not being in a relationship, not traveling enough. Some days I want to say, “fuck it” and just charge a trip on my credit card, but thankfully I always talk myself down from the ledge and remember what stress that has caused me in the past. I’m glad you found an outlet (this blog) to express yourself, and glad we are friends not just online but in person too! 🙂
    Budget and the Beach recently posted…My Own “Government Shutdown” & October GoalsMy Profile

    • deardebt says:

      I understand completely. I suffer from the grass is greener complex and also the nostalgization (I just made that up) of the past. That’s why it’s important for me to redefine success and evaluate my goals. My experiences and life are valid and it’s all up and down. I’m so glad I committed to blogging and that we met too! Your blog is absolutely a fav.
      deardebt recently posted…It’s not where I am now, but how far I’ve come My Profile

  5. Congratulations! It can be very nice to look back and see that things have actually improved a lot. If you want to guest post outside of the PF niche, let me know, I’m looking for people!
    Anne @ Unique Gifter recently posted…Engagement Gift Idea – Family Tree FlashcardsMy Profile

  6. Amanda says:

    Does it help if I tell you that you have less debt that me? 🙂

    I’m afraid to look at my debt repayment progress right now, because I haven’t been paying a penny towards it since May. But now that I have this new job, I’m going to start throwing money at it like mad so that I too can be proud of far I’ve come.
    Amanda recently posted…Where Did The Time Go?My Profile

  7. Jaclyn says:

    Nice goals for the rest of the year, I think everyone should know how to drive a stick shift! And you bring up a good point. Sometimes it’s better to look at how far we’ve come as opposed to how far we’ve left to go. Good luck!
    Jaclyn recently posted…I Will Not Go Into Debt For My HappinessMy Profile

  8. Brittany says:

    Someday…SOMEDAY I will learn how to drive stick, too! But first I need to learn how to parallel park. Or I’ll keep letting J drive. 😉

    Just know you are doing awesome!! And you have a lot of people rooting for you. I feel like you have inspired me to start blogging again soon and setting some goals. You know how life has been lately for me. 😉 I think I’m ready to start not feeling like I’m floundering. Anyway, we should get together sometime so I can update you with the last batch of life info, lol.
    Brittany recently posted…Don’t PanicMy Profile

  9. Best of luck on making your first dollar! I’m sure you are well on your way. I didn’t make a dime until seven months, and that was after putting an incredible amount of time into the site. I also would like to read more but it’s so hard to find time. Best of luck finishing a book this month.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…My Plan for Tackling 300k of Student Loan DebtMy Profile

    • deardebt says:

      I’m just starting to put more time into it. It’s still kind of magic to me how people make money with a blog, but I am open to writing, and other things. If I didn’t spend so much time blogging and trying to hustle, I’d have more time to read. I am trying to decompress in the evenings by reading, but I usually only get in a few pages because I’m so tired.
      deardebt recently posted…It’s not where I am now, but how far I’ve come My Profile

  10. I need to write my Dear Debt letter for you! Waiting to be inspired, I’ve been having writer’s block issues lately.

    It’s awesome how far you’ve come :). I totally hear you on the feelings of “stuckness”. Some days, it is really hard to keep going when my debt seems too big to pay off. That’s why the blogging community is so great, there’s always someone else trying to work through the same stuff. It’s really nice to have that support!
    Erin @ My Alternate Life recently posted…Defensive BudgetingMy Profile

  11. anna says:

    Love this post and how motivated you are with your goals and progress! I didn’t know you were multilingual, that’s amazing! I’m curious to know what book you’re reading, I could use some recommendations. Best wishes on your goals, I know you can do it! Now time to check out what duolingo’s about. 😉
    anna recently posted…September Repayment and Last Name ChangeMy Profile

    • deardebt says:

      I’m bilingual at best (Spanish), but want to be multilingual! I took a semester of French and Portuguese, but that was 8 and 5 years ago respectively, so I am starting over. I would like to be fluent in all three languages in my lifetime. I’ve gotten a lot of my jobs because of my Spanish ability, so it doesn’t hurt! Duolingo is an awesome language learning tool, sort of like a video game. And it’s free!
      deardebt recently posted…It’s not where I am now, but how far I’ve come My Profile

  12. Sandy says:

    You’re doing great! WOOT! WOOT!

    I just talked on today’s post (linked to in my name) about repaying $23K over the past year all while unemployed. It’s entirely possible to repay 5-figure debt in a reasonable time. I think you’re doing so, so well.
    Sandy recently posted…October 1 Check InMy Profile

  13. Mackenzie says:

    Okay I also need to check and see what duolingo is all about! I only know a very small amount of Spanish and I would like to learn more.

    Also you sing? Very, very cool 🙂
    Mackenzie recently posted…I’m Just Not That Into YouMy Profile

  14. Michelle says:

    WOW! You’ve kicked some debt repaying a@@. What a huge accomplishment. Thanks for the Duolingo website. I will be checking it out for my Spanish and French as I tend to stay inside during the colder months (snowing in Denver on Friday!!) I think you will beat your debt free goal btw.

  15. There have been many weeks where I have the same emotions as you have explained above. Just thinking that I’ve fallen so far behind and that everyone else around me is doing so much better. And those days I constantly have to remind myself that life’s a journey and we have our own routes we need to take. It’s okay that we are all at different points in our life and that we all have different experiences. We still have many years ahead of us. Congrats on getting this far and having the want to go even further.

  16. Eating out is one of our vices as well. I wish I had some advice on that one….ha!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Club Thrifty Confessional: I Have First World ProblemsMy Profile

  17. Michelle says:

    Haha I wish I could drive a stick. One of our cars is a stick and I get so nervous just thinking about it! I’ve only tried once though.

    Good luck with your goals! 🙂
    Michelle recently posted…My Weirdest Money Saving MomentsMy Profile

  18. You’ve done brilliantly so far 🙂 I’m sure you will meet your debt free goal by the time you’re 32 (or before even)! I need to write down my goals so I have them clear in my head but the main ones for me are to clear one credit card by Christmas, start a side hustle that I can make a regular income and like your goal, earn a few pounds from my blog!
    Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt recently posted…Where does your loose change go?My Profile

  19. Joe says:

    You have made a huge improvement over this past year. Just keep at it. I’m sure your debt will be gone faster than you expected. The refocused blog is awesome too. I’m sure you’ll make your first $1 very soon. 😉
    You just need to grow traffic a bit more and find the right affiliate product. Maybe Credit Sesame or something like that.
    Joe recently posted…September 2013 Goals and Financial UpdateMy Profile

  20. Janine says:

    Congrats on paying over $10,000 in debt in under a year! That’s fantastic news. Sometimes we get stuck in everyday life and we kind of miss the progress we are making. It’s only when we take a step back that we realize just how far we’ve come! I look forward to seeing you kill more of your debt!
    Janine recently posted…Comment on State of Emergency; Upping My Emergency Fund by slug | sunkcostsareirrelevant.comMy Profile

  21. You’re doing great, M! Over $10000 in debt repayment over the period of 9 months … this is definitely something to be proud of! Good luck with your October goals, I’m sure you can make most (if not all) of them happen!
    Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…My Recent Travel Adventures – Part ThreeMy Profile

  22. Pauline says:

    Best of luck with your goals! I can help you with one if you’d like to write a guest post about your side hustles 🙂

  23. Brian says:

    Looks like you’re doing quite well and have a great plan to pay off the debt. Keep up the good work and don’t get discouraged when things don’t go exactly as planned!
    Brian recently posted…Top 10 Side Jobs – #8: Sports RefereeMy Profile

  24. […] M from Dear Debt has a great point: It’s not where I am now, but how far I’ve come. […]

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