Getting Out Of Debt Is A Huge Bummer

Today, I had lunch with an old friend.  We haven’t had a decent, kid-free visit in at least 10 years, though we were inseparable in high school.  She said something that really stuck with me.  We were talking about the things that we teach our kids, and she said that it was important that her daughter learned to never get in debt because it is so hard to get out of debt.

Isn’t that the truth?

Getting into debt is easy.  Too easy.  A car loan here, some credit cards there, maybe student loans, and suddenly you are up to your ears in minimum payments.  And then even the minimum payments aren’t small, and it seems like your balance is never going down.

Living with debt is awful.  Debt limits your options, because you are always weighing your choices against your debt.  It can suck the life out of you.  If you don’t face the problem, it will continue to grow until it takes over every part of your life.   Don’t think that’s true?  Have you ever had a friend who never answered their phone?  Often, it is because they are avoiding debt collectors.  I have a friend who is always receiving calls from collection agencies and it is uncomfortable being at her house because the phone rings and everyone just looks at each other, knowing.  I can’t imagine how it would be if they were calling for me!

Getting out of debt is hard, but completely worth it.  It requires self-control, persistence, and patience.  Debt usually takes a long time to pay off, and you have to be focused.  It becomes a full-time job, keeping expenses down and tracking your payments and making everything work.

So, learn from my friend.  Avoid debt, and if you must incur “good” debt (like a mortgage), make sure it is within your ability to pay.  Don’t become a slave to 20 minimum payments, because getting out of debt is no fun.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Alex

    I totally agree with this article, most people will but the majority of those will probably not practice it. Interesting that I see this article because I am personally in a decent amount of debt, at least to me it is. (about $30000 in hole.)
    In my case I acquired such debt not because of irresponsibility but because of necessity. Now, in 2014 I am extremely careful on how I spend money and even thought it’s affecting my social life in a way (Can’t go out all the time). I have made of this my number #1 priority, and if everything goes well, by June/July 2015 I will be debt free.

    and even thought I know its going to be hard, I am devoted and willing to do what it takes to be disciplined and not spend on things that I don’t need. The high spending need is over and now I can finally start paying things off. Every time on payday I pay credit cards, paying not only the minimum but I’d say 5 times the minimum. So far, I have seen my debt reduced significantly.

    Lastly, I can relate to this article 100% but I am not being called everyday… so in that aspect I can breathe and take a break….

    Great article!

    • Kate

      Congratulations to you, Alex. So many people want to hide from their debt, but you’re facing it head on. I promise that you will be glad for your sacrifices when you’re done. Keep me posted – I love hearing of my readers successes!

  • Matt

    The key is to figure out what your core expenses are (grocery/electric/phone/rent/car payment/etc…) Then what you have left is your cash available for paying off debt. If you are in debt, it needs to be handled like an emergency (see mr money mustache) Organize your debts from highest interest to lowest. Make minimum payments on all the lower interest debts first and use all available resources to knock out the highest interest debt) Now all the interest you would be paying on the highest interest debt goes into the available funds to pay the second highest interest. Whittle that baby down to 0 debt! Once you are debt free then can you begin to look at what it takes to retire early!

    • Kate

      Love Mr. Money Mustache! You are absolutely right, knowing is the first step to taking action. Has it worked for you?

  • guest

    I can tell you it’s worked for us, 5 years ago almost six figures in student loans, now debt free minus the house and saving 5-6k a month, more if you count the principle repayment on our house when you pare everything down to pay off debt, you get so used to it that even when you have extra money you don’t really think you do and it just starts building up.

    The only thing that has really changed habit wise is we now don’t count our pennies when we decide to eat out (like once every week or two, sometimes less).

    • Kate

      I agree, guest. Being debt free makes it so much easier to do everything else that you want to do and it gives you so many more choices. For me, the big deal is not counting pennies at the grocery story. I feel like that is the pinnacle of freedom. If I want to buy some expensive steak, I can and I know how I’m paying for it. What could be better?