I want to take a minute and talk about family and friend support while paying off debt. When I started my debt free journey I didn’t expect it to be easy and I didn’t expect everyone to understand. I did, however, expect my family and friends to be supportive, which they have not been at all. It’s a very strange feeling arguing with your family and friends about your personal financial situation. I’m a true believer that you should respect everyone’s journey even when that journey is not something you agree with. It’s been a shock to me that my family, who has supported me through EVERYTHING, does not support me at all on my debt-free journey.
Let’s start with talking to your family about debt payoff. Recently, my parents and I were on the subject of savings. My Dad was once again trying to get me to buy a rental property and it came up that I definitely would not have enough for a down payment. He looked at me like I was insane! What do you mean you don’t have enough for a down payment?? You make close to six-figures! Then it all came out. I had been purposely vague about my debt repayment efforts to them because I knew I would get this reaction. What was most surprising was that after I went through how many loans I have, my paychecks, everything … They STILL call me and bring up new cars they saw for sale, and how I should get a bigger apartment so they can stay when they visit. What planet is this?? Not only are they wasting my time with that nonsense but I also feel disrespected because they aren’t listening to my story. I spoke to them recently about my new apartment which is a significant downgrade from my current place. I was laughing because my brother is coming to visit in a few months with his friends and it’s going to be like a can of sardines with four of us all staying in my new studio, and I was met with a very negative reaction from them. I thought it was funny but they genuinely thought it was rude of me to get such a small apartment and expect people to be comfortable when they visit. I mean after all I can “afford” one right? Wrong.
It’s hard to talk to people who are on the other side of the spectrum of debt payoff than you are. I try to explain that my quality of life would be terrible if I had to pay this debt back for the rest of my life. I can’t imagine paying $1,500 a month every month for 10 years! I would be just getting by on six figures the entire time which doesn’t make any sense! I’m hoping they will eventually see what I mean and understand but until then I’ll just keep preaching about my freedom. You also have to be careful not to be too harsh. Parents have been living the way they have for a very long time. They could easily find what I’m saying insulting because they have debt themselves and I’m in a way criticizing their lifestyle and saying I would be miserable living the same way. Treading carefully is very important with family.
Dealing with friends is a little different. They don’t get angry or emotional but they do think you are the crazy one and tease you constantly. I hear all the time that oh you are single and in you 20’s you can literally do anything you want and move anywhere! You should move to LA or NYC or London and live your life! Ok… I would love love love to move to any of those cities and live my life (because I guess now I’m dead or something?), but I don’t want to struggle forever. The thought of just getting by for the next 10 years while I pay off this debt is absolutely depressing. I would be able to afford an apartment with roommates in NYC and my debt payment. I would be contributing the minimum to my 401k, eating ramen until I’m 40, and NOT living my life the way I want.
The opinion of my friends and family is very important to me but not on MY debt repayment journey. When people don’t agree with your decisions it can be difficult ground to navigate but if you know it’s right who cares what they think? You are the one that has to live with that giant debt elephant in the room and you are the one not sleeping at night because you’re worried you can’t pay your bills. I usually respond with some form of asking them if it’s worth it to work your entire life but never really own anything? You buy a house that you don’t really own. The bank does. The bank owns your car, your furniture, your education, your LIFE. And if hard times come they will not hesitate to take everything you have and more. The loan officers at the bank are extremely friendly when you want to tap into your line of credit, but see how quickly their reactions change when you can’t repay that debt. That to me is not living your life to the fullest, its living your life to repay someone else.
As always, these are my personal feelings towards debt. My only experience with it has been suffocating. Ever since I was a teen I have struggled with spending more than I earned and making up the difference with credit. The sleepless nights and constant feelings of worry are not worth it to me. I want to be debt free and stay that way.
What are your feelings about being debt-free or experiences with your family/friends on your debt free journey?