I remember the day my parents paid off their staggering student loan debt (both have advanced degrees). They went to the kitchen sink and burned some of the debt statements, saving the ashes in a glass jar as a remind. We were living in a rural town for the express purpose of paying off their debt. I was 9, my brothers were 6 and 3. That memory is burned into my brain and has shaped my outlook.
Thank you for your nuanced take on the debt struggle. I have to admit, that in my mind debt has become a bogeyman. The thing I want to avoid most of all. And I don’t think that’s a bad outlook, but like you said, “debt is not a personality flaw.”
Because of my outlook (and some help from my parents, working through school, and being frugal) I didn’t incur any undergrad debt. My husband did and it’s not something we are forced to deal with yet because he’s in grad school. But that debt looms over us and we often talk about how after we get out of the grad school grind, the first priority is paying it off — no matter where we have to move and work. Looking at our two-year-old running around like a maniac, we realize it’s our job to handle our money well without letting it drag us down the drain of regret and stress. And trying to do both of those things is inherently stressful. Askjfh;lkjg.
Thank you for the sigh of relief, the little reminder that debt doesn’t define me. I’d argue that how I deal with debt is the defining quality.