Facing Your Debt Monster

Hiding from your debt allows it to haunt you.

I felt like a failure when I got out of college.

From what I could see, I was powerless to pay back my loans. The amount I owed seemed astronomical to me.

And I was angry. I blamed my parents, college admissions offices, college financial services — anyone I could. I was bitter poison.

For years I paid minimum payments and resigned myself to decades of being poor.

Until I got up the nerve to look head-on at my monster.

Don’t worry; it’s just a cuttlefish.

Around February of 2013, I was getting ready to take a class in personal finances, so I decided to finally sign into every loan and credit card account I had. I made a list and added them up. They totaled $38,104*, which was actually a little better than I had thought (I’d assumed I was into the $40K range). Until I stared the monster in the face, I couldn’t see how small it was.

While going through the class, I decided to stick to a plan. I made a budget that allowed for the biggest payment I could spare each month.

My new plan predicted a final payoff date of January 2016, but it didn’t even take me that long. I posted my final payment in October of 2015. The whole project took me just a little over two-and-a-half years, during which I started dating and married my wife (a momentary and welcome disruption to the payoff plan)!

If you don’t know the exact amount of the debt monster that lives in the back of your brain and saps your life away, go make a list, and keep it visible. Look the monster in the face.

It’s the first step to taking control.

* * *

If you have debt, did you make a list? What effect did it have?

* For those interested, the breakdown of my debt was as follows:

  • $22,504 in student loans (private and public)
  • $9,000 left on a car loan
  • $6,600 in credit card and personal debts

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