November 25, 2015

Hey debt fighters! Today’s dear debt letter offers a fresh perspective, from someone who has to clean up debt’s mess. Today’s letter is from Ted Michalos, a bankruptcy trustee and co-founder of Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc. Hoyes Michalos was founded as a firm that takes a respectful and personalized approach to debt management and recovery, to help people gain a lasting fresh financial start.

Dear Debt,

We need to talk.  I’m the guy that has to come along behind you and clean up the mess you create. Credit is a “good” thing – we congratulate people for having achieved enough status in their life to qualify for credit.  Unfortunately, as soon as someone uses credit it turns into you, Debt.  And sorry, but you sir are “bad”.

I am not holding you wholly responsible – there is more than enough blame for everyone involved, but someone needs to warn people about you.

You start out harmless enough.  A person qualifies for their first credit card or loan.  You make them feel so proud, so grown up. However, from that magical moment forward you put them at risk of having you take over their life. Until the card gets used there is no debt, so there is no problem, but you’re always waiting for your chance to grow. You entice them with the concept of having it all now, and you’re pretty quiet about the cost.

Here’s the thing that you don’t remind them about, so I will – credit should be a replacement for cash. It is not a replacement for money.  You should only use credit when you have sufficient money to pay off the balance so Debt doesn’t find you.  If you don’t pay off the balance every month then Debt takes over and he asks for something in return. He charges interest.

Interest is the cost of using someone else’s money – the cost of incurring debt.  The truly crazy part (of course you know this Debt) is the more debt a person has the more expensive the interest charges become.  So just when a person needs a break or a little help, you tell them, “sorry, but you owe so much now that I’m afraid you may not pay me back.  I’m going to have to charge you even more to use my money…”  Shame on you.

Why am I writing you this letter?  What do I want you to do?

I guess I’m just venting.  You won’t change.  The only solution is to change the behaviour of your consumer.

The problem with this is our entire economy is built around the use of credit, the incurring of debt.  The newest greatest gadget comes on the market and people want it today.  No money?  No problem.  You slyly pre-approved them for more credit.  It’s your way of keeping people tied to you.   You must be proud of yourself – you’ve done one helluva job getting everyone onside with your program.

I thought after writing you this letter I‘d feel a little better – I don’t.  Tomorrow I know I will have that senior citizen couple in my office that incurred a bunch of debt to help their family members out, and you’re not really there to help them.

I’ll get to see the single mom that incurred a bunch of student debt to make a better life for herself and her children, only to find out, she can’t earn enough to make you go away and pay her living expenses each month.  Or maybe it will be the guy from the plant that has had all of his overtime cut.  He was living the good life based on the overtime never ending – now he makes 25% less and you want a bigger share of the pie.

Well, hopefully just one person reading this will be wary of you Debt; before it becomes too late. Before you consume so much of their pay that they are one of the people I meet with every day. Perhaps we can tackle you with education, one person at a time.


Ted Michalos,

Co-founder of Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc.

Debt Management Experts


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

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.

Latest posts by Melanie (see all)

7 responses to “Stuck in the Middle with You”

  1. Tyler says:

    Love this post, So often people are saying how grown up you are, how far you have come when you have good credit or get a new loan or credit card. Then when you use it and get into debt you become a child again. It’s sad and it should stop

  2. Janet Fazio says:

    Great post. Thanks for helping people navigate their way out from under the heavy debt burden.
    Janet Fazio recently posted…Norwex Microfiber Cloth – ReviewMy Profile

  3. Interesting stuff here!
    I get frustrated that people assume that everyone who is in debt has got there through their own lack of financial responsibility. Don’t get me wrong, some people are but it’s unkind to assume that everyone did because some didn’t have a choice but to borrow.
    Jenna L at Hello Suckers recently posted…Equity vs. Debt in Real Estate Crowdfunding InvestmentsMy Profile

  4. Unfortunately, I’m in the “it’s too late” category of readers! Wish I could go back in time — I never would’ve gone to law school.
    Natalie @ Financegirl recently posted…How to Save an Emergency Fund That Actually LastsMy Profile

  5. Interesting perspective from someone “in the middle.” I think this will help people see debt from a different angle.
    Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor recently posted…Why I’ve Banned Shopping BansMy Profile

  6. I’m with Natalie – too late to go back and go to a public university instead of a private one. But I’m doing all I can to increase my income and pay down that debt!
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…How I Got a Book DealMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge