My story of debt runs through a similar vein as many PF bloggers.
I didn’t charge any trips, I didn’t go on a spending spree, and Thank Heavens I didn’t have a medical emergency!
What did I do, you ask?
I sat in a library. by myself. in silence. for 3 years.
Like too many young adults these days, my debt is from student loans.
See, my $45,000 of debt is from law school.
Through my hard work and some good fortune, I received a three-year full-tuition scholarship. I was still responsible for living expenses, books, etc. and I financed that entirely through federal student loans. Everything I spent was subject to 6.8 % interest, so I tried to live as small as possible. My loans covered all of law school, studying for the bar exam, and 6 months of unemployment.
$45,000 for a 3.5 year transformation into a professional. Not bad.
As I move forward and pay this back, being frugal isn’t my issue. My family and friends might even consider me too tight with money. I am a seasoned professional at denying myself every modern convenience. If I truly wanted to, I could live on ramen in the dark until this debt is paid off.
I don’t want to keep living that way.
My tight relationship with money started at a young age. My parents divorced when I was in diapers, leaving them both with essentially nothing. Things were hard for a while. My first money memory is of shopping at a secondhand clothing store as a child. My little sister kept asking my mom for more and more. I knew we didn’t have the money to cover what she wanted and what I had picked out, so I put all of my school clothes back. At 6 or 7 years old, I decided I could go without. I had clothes at home– they were all too big, and many were my brother’s hand-me-downs, but I could go without.
Things got better for both of my parents, but no matter how much money my family had, I never felt like I had a stable financial footing. I always feared that one or two wrong decisions would put me back where I was as a child.
I’ve never been comfortable spending money. I could always come up with reasons why I shouldn’t spend it. Some reasons were real, some were elaborate disaster fantasies. Regardless, I kept a tight grip on every last cent I could.
My original reaction to having debt was to DESTROY it, paying it off aggressively, leaving no room for error. But what will I learn from that? Nothing, that’s what. I want to pay off my debt quickly. But I also want to deal with the money issues I developed during my childhood.
Through this blog, I want to become more comfortable with money. I want to overcome my monetary insecurities through building a solid foundation (emergency fund(s), sink funds, budgeting etc.) while also paying off my mountain of debt. I also wouldn’t mind saving some dollars for a vacation or two.
So instead of annihilating my debt, I’m just going to say Goodnight.