Breaking up with Debt for Good

Today, Melanie from Dear Debt is taking over the blog and we are excited to have her sharing her debt story with us!

Debt and I have been in it for the long haul. I signed my student loan papers at age 17 – a whopping 12 years ago. The thing is, when I was going to college I never thought I was in debt. If you aren’t paying it back yet, you aren’t in debt, right? That is what my supremely naïve 17-year old self thought.

Aside from not fully realizing I was in debt for the whole four years during college, I also didn’t seem to understand the concept of interest. It was as if by pure magic my original loan of $18,000 jumped to $23,000. I couldn’t really grasp the fuzzy math.

After I got my first real adult job, I thought I was too cool for debt. I paid the minimum and went out a lot.

I also made excuse after excuse why I couldn’t pay more.

I live in Los Angeles! Hello! Do you know how expensive it is to live here?

I work at a nonprofit….which means I’m kind of like a paid volunteer.

I’m so young! I have my whole life to pay off debt (bahah yeah right).

It doesn’t end there. A few years later, I thought I’d make myself look all fancy and get a master’s degree. I was accepted to a fancy private college in NYC, so I quit my job and took on triple the amount of debt.

D’oh!

After realizing how much debt I had gotten myself into, in hopes of creating a better future for myself (and it not really working out that way), I knew I had to find a way to climb out.

But first there were many nights of panic, crying, yelling and cursing the world.

Unfortunately that did a whole lot of nothing. My debt wasn’t going to magically disappear. I was going to have to work. Hard.

So I started to become obsessed with different ways of making money. I started to side hustle by working events, taking care of pets and houses, writing, and working odd jobs. Luckily, I was already a minimalist, but I kept it that way, living in a small, shared studio with my boyfriend. I said “no” to a car, “no” to a baby kitty, even though deep down all I want to do is be a cat mommy and said “no” to many other things.

For a while it seemed like I wasn’t making any progress at all. Some months would be great, then the next month would be bad. It’s now been three years since I’ve graduated with my master’s from “Now You’re Unemployed” and I’ve paid off $30,000 in 3 years on a similar salary. Only now can I finally see it. The little steps are starting to make a difference.

I’m paying off debt and working on it every damn day. I’m hustling to make it work and trying hard not to be jealous of the Joneses, or lose momentum.

It’s tough. I’m inching my way to 30 and am still paying for my experiences from several years ago. But I’m not married to debt. While we’ve been together for a long time, it’s been more than over for some time. I am kicking him to the curb and we are done!

Melanie Lockert is a freelance wordsmith, a passionate debt fighter, and frugal lovin’ minimalist. She devotes 50% of her income to her student loan debt and is often dreaming of her next adventure. She writes about breaking up with debt at DearDebt.com and can be found on Twitter @DearDebtBlog.

Like what you read? It’s your turn! We’ll pay you for your debt story.

Around here, we’re all about taking our debt and beating it down. Grrrrrrrr! We pay $5 for every awesome debt story we publish (whether you’re in debt, out of it, or barely living to tell the tale) so send yours our way to be considered: reddebtedstepchild[at]gmail[dot]com!

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Bingo Is Actually Really Cool in Grenada

sunrise When I lived in Grenada, one of my favorite things to do was play Bingo. It sounds kind of silly, I know, like it should be a game at an old folks home. However, Bingo was actually a super happenin’ part of island life.

People used to come to a restaurant called Prickly Bay every Wednesday night for some Bingo action. You would be amazed at the sheer amount of people who participated, and it was always a great mix of tourists, locals, and ex-pats like myself.

In order to play, you had to buy a bingo card, which was around 20 ECD (Eastern Caribbean Dollars) which is like $8 U.S. dollars. The best part about the whole entire thing though is that people would get really into it. There would be yelling and clapping and loud craziness, all who wanted to get a piece of the Bingo pie! If someone filled up their whole card, you have no idea how much yelling there would be! (Actually, Grenadians get into everything. They used to cheer in the movie theater too – it was awesome!)

Bingo, though, was specially because it was totally random what the prizes were. Sometimes, the prizes would be t-shirts. One time they gave away actual live goats!Grenada goat

My friends won cell phones and cash. The ONLY time I ever got to win, I had to choose between a t-shirt and an envelope. I picked the envelope, and it was empty! I’m such a sucker! Honestly, I kind of miss those hot Wednesday nights on the island. We could walk to Prickly Bay from our apartment, and we always saw so many people we knew. It was definitely about the community and seeing friends all while playing a fun game. There were even people who were really superstitious about which “board” they played with, and they had lucky boards and numbers.

Ever since I left the island, I think about bingo nights from time to time. When I looked online if people still played bingo, I had no idea that other people thought it was still cool too! There are entire places online where people go to play 90 ball bingo and tons of other types of games.

I don’t know if it’ll ever be the same as having a beer and taking in the cool Caribbean air, but at least it’s something! I should mention that although this was gambling in theory, it really wasn’t a huge amount and I never played two games in a row. I always say that gambling, like most things, is okay in moderation.

Of course, if you are significantly in debt, these are the types of things to watch out for. However, if you are diligently paying off your balances and have some extra funds for a slice of an entertainment budget, then maybe you should go old school and try to find a bingo game near you!

Have you played bingo lately? Do you consider this gambling or just something fun to do?

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