After discovering Rockstar Finance Directory, I spent some time sifting through all of the blogs there. I was interested in reading the experience of others in my age group who started from a position in debt and were working their way out. As I did this, I decided to post about personal finance blogs that I enjoy reading. It gives me some incentive to keep exploring and reading and reaching out to a community of like-minded individuals on a similar journey.
This led me to discover Double Debt Single Woman, which really resonated with me. I read 90% of her posts in one afternoon, and have been catching up on the rest.
About Double Debt Single Woman
She started her journey in her late 30’s, when she had a sudden realization that she was postponing her future for her comfortable lifestyle in the present. Saddled with over $100k of student loan debt and $30k of credit card debt, she started her own personal finance blog and wrote the phrase that became something of a refrain at the bottom of each post:
Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.
— Double Debt Single Woman
And you know what? I totally get it. I am in the fortunate position of increasing my 401(k) investment as I pay off my 401(k) loans, but if I happen to lose my job before those are paid off, I will be stuck paying taxes and penalties on the whole thing. I feel trapped in my current job not only until I pay those off, but until I can build enough liquid funds to 1) fund my retirement, or 2) get me through a layoff. So yeah, I can appreciate the “debtor’s prison” analogy.
Opportunity cost? Oh, yeah. For realsies. When I think about what I could have gained by NOT borrowing $50k from my 401(k), I want to kick myself in the ass for a good, long time.
Denise, the author of the blog, attributes her situation to two things: student loans in forbearance, and lifestyle inflation. To which I say, PREACH SISTER! That stuff can make your future ugly.
Did I ever tell you the story of how I paid off the student loans for not one, but two of my ex-husbands? LOL. Good times.
This one is pretty easy to get caught up in when you’re a high earner. Mr. Money Mustache writes about this as “hedonic adaptation.” There is really something to that. You earn more money, buy some nice stuff, everything is awesome. Pretty soon you get used to your nice stuff and want even NICER stuff. Eventually, you even get used to that nicer stuff, and, well, now you’re in debt, SUCKA!
So, yeah. That happened.
At some point, Denise had an epiphany about her future, and she got angry:
I now realize that no fancy apartment or electronics or furnishings are worth what I’m losing. What am I losing? I’m not funding my retirement. I’m 37. I have no emergency saving, so I have no peace of mind. I can’t travel. I have old clothes that are so out of fashion that people stare at me sometimes. The list goes on. And #1, I don’t have control over my own life.
She started the blog in 2012, and today has cleared off her credit card debt and has reduced her student loan debt by 50%. Not only that, but she has started funding her retirement, saving for special occasions, and has an emergency fund. That’s amazing! And inspiring.
Some of my favorite posts
When freed of all the pressure to compete, and purged of all of the plastic crap that we’ve been conditioned and socialized to stuff into our lives, you have the space to think about what you want your future to be like and feel like.
This is an opportunity that many never experience. Take advantage of it.
…I’ll have to keep working after 50, but I can work where and how I want, knowing that I’ll have enough return from my investments to always have money to afford a basic place to sleep and food to eat. No staying at a terrible job out of desperation.
Of course, everyone’s situation is different, hence my endeavor to find the solution that is best for me. I’m not in my 20s with $18,000 of student loan debt. I’m in my 40s with $97,000+ of student loan debt. I’m woefully behind in my retirement savings. I have a little north of $40k, when a person my age should have hundreds of thousands saved already.
When I started this blog, my student loan debt topped out at $112,258.
Today, it is at $56,000.
I’ve paid off 50% of my student loan debt!
I have now reached the peak of the mountain and only have to roll the boulder downhill from now on.
Keep on keeping on, Denise! You’re going to be out of it before you know it!