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Last year, I sat down and talked about struggling financially in a podcast here on TurningPointCT. While I was pretty honest about some of my struggles, I didn’t share how much debt I was in. Honestly, I might not have known back then because I was too anxious to even sit down and deal with it.
Earlier this year as I was preparing to leave my partner of five years, I was forced to sit down and take a look at my finances. I knew I didn’t make much. I knew I had been spending more than I made for quite some time, knowing I was paying for things I could not afford to. But, I was expected to pay for things. In an effort to not be a that person who doesn’t contribute their share, I threw everything on my credit cards. I was so afraid of admitting I was poor to my partner that I ended up with $20k of credit card debt.
I was throwing the minimum payments on my four credit cards every month, never having a late payment. But, the interest caught up to me and I found myself not able to keep my head above water. The interest was shooting me above my credit limit on every single one of my cards. It got to the point where I couldn’t keep up. My entire paychecks were going towards my debt, leaving no money for anything else. I quite literally could not feed myself.
After months of not being able to feed myself, I realized I had no choice but to do something about it. After some researching, I contacted a group that does debt consolidation. I qualified for the program and started my journey towards tackling my debt.
I didn’t tell my family. They knew I was poor. I made jokes about it all the time, but I didn’t want them knowing it was more than just being poor and the absolute mess I made of my finances. I quite literally put myself into financial ruins because I was so embarrassed that I was so poor at 25 years old. Nobody thinks they’ll be 25 and not able to afford to keep themselves alive.
I now put money towards my debt every two weeks when I get paid. I also have a team working to lower my debt with creditors. A part of the process is literally not paying your credit card bills. This obviously results in calls from creditors and debt collectors you’re not supposed to answer, which can be really uncomfortable.
I didn’t care much, until a debt collector contacted my entire family looking for me. Like I’m not just talking my parents and siblings, but my cousins, aunts, and uncles. Not a fun thing to explain when you didn’t tell your parents or even your brother that you were dealing with this. Then having to explain to my cousins and uncles…awful.
The journey has been rough. I hate that I waited so long before I dealt with what was happening. I cannot believe I did not start this process sooner, before I had racked up $20k in debt. But, I think what’s worse is that my shame around not having money and not just being honest with those close to me who could have helped is worse. But, that stems from other issues like not feeling worthy and feeling like a burden. I did not feel worthy and I felt like a failure because I couldn’t afford to contribute to household things.
This is a really vulnerable thing for me to be sharing. But, I know a lot of other young people might be facing similar struggles financially. If you’re struggling with debt or feeling like you just cannot afford to be alive, I see you and I feel you. I’ve lived it. I want you to know that you’re not less than or unworthy of others because you’re not financially well off. I also want you to know that there are programs that can help you with your situation. It sucks, but you’re not trapped and destined to be stuck in the situation you’re in.
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