It’s surprisingly easy to live with debt. If you have a steady job and a manageable monthly payment, you start to forget it’s even there.
Like so many of my peers, I graduated college with a nice chunk of debt.
Above the national average of $37,000 (though still less than many other people I knew).
It was enough that I figured it wouldn’t be gone for a long time unless I suddenly got rich or the world economy crashed, and everyone’s debt disappeared into the fires of anarchy.
For a moment, the struggle was all to real.
I graduated college flat broke and without a job. The idea of making monthly payments in the hundreds of dollars wasn’t just terrifying; it was an impossibility. But soon enough, I found myself a job. And then another one after that.
My finances were stable. And that’s when something unexpected happened.
Debt become a natural piece of me.
I accepted that making debt payments was a part of life (and my paycheck), like taxes or car insurance. I didn’t necessarily like making payments, but I could (and I had to), so I did.
I’ve spent the past few years just making my monthly payments, chipping away at this mountain that has sat upon my finances since graduation. I wasn’t really sure when the payments would stop, and frankly, I didn’t want to check because it would probably make me sad.
Then 2016 came around…
Right as 2015 ended and 2016 began, something crazy happened that almost caused me to leave my full time job. I spent a week questioning where I was going with my life and what the future looked like. Meanwhile, my boss and coworkers began constantly talking about debt and finances and snowball payments.
I started reading and listening to Dave Ramsey and the emotional/psychological side of debt. I know there’s some mixed opinions out there about Dave Ramsey, but the idea of debt being an emotional battle really hit me. So I decided, for the first time in my life to face my financials.
I wrote out everything.
My income, my bills, my debts, estimated budgets, etc. I figured out how much money I should have left at the end of each month if I wasn’t stupid with my money.
Using that amount, I mapped a journey to getting out of debt, and I realized something crazy.
Getting out of debt wasn’t as impossible as I thought it was.
Doing some retroactive calculating, I realized I probably could have been debt free 2-3 years out of college, if I would have tried. Of course, I didn’t do that because I thought it was pointless.
Now, however, everything was different. I waited for things to stabilize at work. I finished up the digital version of a certain book I wrote. I enjoyed my summer. And on Labor Day of 2016, I committed to waging war against my debt.
In other words, I started a second job as a server.
To live the life I wanted to live, I needed to get rid of the debt. To get rid of the faster debt, I needed more money. It’s simple math.
Yes, this would mean giving up some of my weekends and the occasional week night. My personal schedule wouldn’t be as fluid. I’d have to sacrifice some social outings.
But, despite having to recently drop over a grand on car repairs, I have now officially paid off TWO student loans since starting my job. That just leaves 5 more to go. The snowball has started rolling.
On my current path, it won’t be till next year that the debt is gone, but I can live that. What I can’t live with is debt. It’s like shackles on my soul.
Had I kept making the minimum payments, I’d be paying off loans still a decade from now. That’s crazy.
So to those with debt…
Whether it’s college debt, car payments, a mortgage, or something else, if you have debt, and you’ve decided that’s just a part of life, it’s not. Or least, it doesn’t have to be.
For those who feel like you can’t get out of the debt they have, it’s probably more possible than you think. You just need to be brave enough to face it.
To actually write it out.
Plan it out.
And then follow through.
When I finally did that, I realized I didn’t need a miracle to be debt free.
I just need a little time and a little extra effort.
My plan might not play out perfectly. Other expenses and life events will likely pop up. But I’m committed to not letting them stop me. I’d love for you to join me.
Have your own story of debt or financial adversity because of college? I’d love to hear about it! Click here to share it with me or feel free to comment below.