Debt. This is something I don’t feel like is talked about enough. Starting on your 18th birthday, credit card companies start sending you offers that you have been “pre-approved” for $1,500! At such a young age, that seems like a lot of money. And it is. Especially if you have 5 of those cards and they are all maxed out. Most of the time, it is not even on things that we can remember. Not on experiences or a health emergency. Just stuff. Well, that was the case for me, anyway. I went into credit card debt when I was about 20 so I could buy some electronic that was going to be irrelevant in one or two years. Or to buy people gifts, and most people likely wouldn’t want you spending money on them if you genuinely don’t have it. But I didn’t understand that at the time.
My parents talked to me a bit about debt and how it was not good to open credit cards, and they even put me through a Dave Ramsey Jr. course when I was a sophomore or junior in high school. But, I like many teens, didn’t take what my parents said very seriously. I suppose I thought they wanted me to have a boring life or something. I wish I had someone closer to my age back then to warn me against credit cards and debt. I’m actually not 100% against credit cards because they can be useful in an emergency and help with points and cash back, etc. But, letting a teen with no financial responsibilities have thousands of dollars to spend is not a good idea. Most people don’t realize how credit cards even work. They think the money is theirs, but when they start getting bills for what they sent they start to panic and then realize that it was just borrowed money.
That is what happened to me. I didn’t understand the concept until after I started spending. And that is exactly where the credit card companies want you. I think it was about $7,000 or $7,500 in credit card debt that I racked up. And I was only paying the minimum payment for years! I very much enjoyed getting my hair and nails done almost every month and not having to sacrifice the things I wanted to do. But then one day, I felt that God was calling me to move to Serbia. I realized that I could come over here with a bunch of credit card debt, so I figured out a plan how I could pay off my debt quickly and efficiently. It was no easy feat, that’s for sure! Since I had all of the cards for well over 2 years, the 0% interest had turned into 25%+ interest. That’s a lot of extra money that I didn’t even spend! So, I ended up taking out a loan at my bank and paid off all of my credit cards. The bank loan was 15% interest, so I’d be able to pay it off more quickly and with less money. I stopped doing the extra little things like having my hair and nails done and I sting out less, and used that money to go toward paying off this loan. I was able to pay off 100% of my debt within 13 months, and I felt so free!!
So, the moral of the story is that we should be discussing debt and credit cards more often, even if it does seem uncomfortable. You never know who you may help get out of debt or even prevent from getting into debt in the first place! It doesn’t have to be a daunting task to pay off debt, and it is okay to treat yourself from time to time, just don’t make it a lifestyle. If you ever have any questions about debt or how to pay it off, please reach out to me and I can help you set up a plan, or at least get you pointed in the right direction!
P.S. I am aware that under $10,000 is not much debt, but that was almost 1/3 of my salary at the time. And I think I can still help people get started :)