I went to college in the 80s, when banks had discovered they could really push their products on campus, and a bunch of gullible 18 year olds who wanted to pretend to be adults would sign up for anything.
It was so exciting! I had credit cards! I could buy stuff, and worry about paying for it later! Woohoo!
Thus started my sad slide into debt. Add in some school loans (which were not quite as crazy back then as they are now) and some purchases I totally didn’t need – a camcorder for my wedding photography business? – and I was in a surprising amount of debt for someone who didn’t even own a house. The only positive thing I did is that I managed to pay off the school loans in about 10 years.
In 2003, I decided to go back to school, and get a second degree in music education. Because I already had a degree, I couldn’t get grants, but they could give me more school loans…
After I finished my student teaching, I started looking for a job. But I was off a semester – I finished in December and most teaching jobs start in August. So I accepted a full time job at a local company, with everyone fully understanding that I would leave if I found a teaching job.
It was a job with not too many responsibilities at the time, so I had time to waste. One day I was feeling particularly crushed by debt, and started googling how to get rich quick.
And I found a blog – https://www.getrichslowly.org/ – that really changed my life.
I found it very shortly after he started writing it, in 2006. It was a guy, up to his eyeballs in debt, who decided to chronicle his attempts to get out of debt. Anyway, I followed along as he tried different things, and learned from what went right and what didn’t in his journey. (He got out of debt years ago, but that’s because his blog became very popular, and he ended up becoming quite rich. I probably wouldn’t have followed if he was already rich, trying to tell me what to do. But since he was in the same boat as me, I was willing to try.)
It has taken years. I slowly got the credit cards paid, and started saving some towards retirement. Sometimes it went well, and sometimes it didn’t. But I have continued working towards the goal – to be debt free.
This was going to be the year. I was on track to pay off my car in March, and my school loan by the end of the year.
And then, Covid came. I was laid off for 3 months, and then I went back to work part time. And I no longer felt like throwing all my money at these loans was a great idea. I might need some of it for actual living.
I did get unemployment pay for 3 months, so that was fine. And I was able to pay off my car, in May. But for the past 5 months, I’ve been working part time, and trying to readjust all of my life expectations.
And then, Bridgette and her sister April sold their father’s house, and announced to me that “our” daddy would want them to help me pay off the school loan.
The final payment has been made. I did reach my goal this year, with a little help from my friends. I can not even begin to describe what a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t even realize it was there, until it was gone.