Bet you’ve never heard that title before. I am by no means qualified to be a financial advisor. I can really only share what I’ve read and my experiences with paying off debt. However, the more I talk to friends about their financial issues, the more I realize that so many people have not yet admitted that they have a problem.
American society tends to view debt as inevitable, necessary, and totally normal. While it is true that most Americans have debt, that doesn’t mean that we should just accept debt with no plan of attack. I went into debt in order to get a college education. Some people warned me against that, while others encouraged it. I understand that different people have different convictions about debt, but I believed that it was in my best interest to get through school with the assistance of financial aid which included federal loans. To be honest, I didn’t view that as unwise at all because most of the people I’d known who had gone through college had done so with the assistance of loans. I figured it was normal.
Due to financial assistance and hard work, I finished school with just under 10k in federal loans. Now here’s where you might be saying, “That’s not so bad. Most kids end up with more that.” True. I have plenty of friends who graduated with a much bigger financial burden. My husband graduated with about 13K so I had “married into” that too (he’s completely worth it). All that to say, where we were at was “normal” for American college graduates.
I don’t want to be “normal”.
One of my inspirations to start a money-saving blog is Kelly, and her post “That one time we paid off our house.” Kelly shared how she and her husband (motivated by two children) paid their mortgage off in 5 years. Reading this as an engaged 20-year-old about to have a combined 23k in debt, I felt motivated. If a couple with two children could manage something like a mortgage of 123k while mostly living on one income, my groom-to-be and I could tackle 23k without kids and both working.
Now granted, we were still paying tuition and still are for the next two years while I’m in grad school, but we used some serious budgeting and extra work to begin paying off the debt. All that to say, Kelly and her husband are not “normal.” They didn’t take on a 30-year mortgage when they knew a 15 was doable. They didn’t pay minimum payments and accept debt for the next decade and a half. They were different, and it paid off.
Did you know research shows that the average college-graduate takes 21 years to repay their school loans? Whoa! 21 years! How am I supposed to buy a house before I’m 40?? Society’s answer: take out another loan. What about other expenses like cars and raising a family? Society’s answer: just get a credit card. Ladies and gentlemen, if it is completely “normal” to be in debt until I’m ready to retire, I don’t want to be normal.
The Abnormal Life
The life of being debt-free is not yet in my grasp, and I’ve already told you that I’m no financial expert. I can say, though, that I am 19k closer to being debt free than I was a year ago. I’m getting there quicker than most, so I’ll share what I’ve learned so far. 1) Admit it, you’ve got a problem. When I chose to view debt as a problem to be tackled instead of just a part of life, I took it more seriously and developed a plan that I was motivated to work on.
Debt really is bondage to someone else. When you’re in debt, someone has the power to demand the money that you earn. Someone has the power to make you pay interest.
The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. – Proverbs 22:7
Personally, I don’t want to be any man’s slave. Decide to be different. Decide to take your debt seriously and tackle it as soon as possible. When you start to view your debt as a serious problem, you want to take to take action. Don’t let yourself wallow in debt. Get serious. Set some goals!
Next time, I’ll talk more about how to set goals without feeling overwhelmed. When Ryan and I first started a game plan to pay down out debt, I felt very overwhelmed and frustrated with a “we’re doomed” mentality, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
When you’re ready, check out Debt Recovery: Step Two Perspective & Budgeting