How Being in Debt Should Change Your Mindset

Today’s post is from Chonce, a new personal finance blogger working her way out of $30,000 of debt.

When it comes to managing and improving your finances, setting a suitable budget, saving part of your income, and beginning to invest are certainly helpful money management skills. However these basic skills will not be the main factor in achieving financial success in the long run.

The best way to achieve and maintain financial success is to learn how to change the way you think about money. By far, the best teacher for this change of mindset is debt. If you’ve never been in debt, you can certainly still have great financial habits and an improved mindset when it comes to money. But if you’re more like me, you know all too well about the stress and uncertainty debt can bring.

When I went to college I carelessly took out student loans and didn’t think twice about saving. I subjected myself to lifestyle inflation with every extra dollar I earned and by the summer after graduation, I had $30,000 in debt thanks to my student loans and my car loan. Back then I thought money was simply compensation or a reward for the work I did and I felt entitled to reward myself every chance I got. I’m thankful for my debt because now I think completely differently about money. Plus I’ve gained new habits that I will take with me throughout the rest of my life.
I’ve realized that money is merely a tool that should be managed properly and no matter what, it can’t dictate my happiness. Here are just a few ways being in debt should change your mindset for the better.

Wants Vs. Needs

Being in debt allows you to consider what you truly need vs. things you just want out of impulse. Once you’ve had your ‘Aha Moment’ or ‘Debt Epiphany’ as I call it, you begin to realize that in order to get yourself out of the debt, you’ll need to prioritize your spending. When I first started repaying my debt I remember asking myself, “Do I really need cable TV, another pair of shoes, or a brand new coffee table for my living room?”

Once I realized these were insignificant wants and not basic needs, I began to trim down my budget and simplify my life.

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in all the mess and forget about the important things in life, like spending time with family, building relationships with others, creating lasting memories and most important, being FREE from owing other people money. To be honest, I couldn’t even tell you most of what I spent money on two years ago, but I remember the experiences I had like it was yesterday. No matter what anyone says just remember you can live well on less without all those wants.

You Can Earn More and Take Control of Your Money

I probably never would have thought so in-depth about side hustles if I wasn’t in debt. There’s something about owing a large chunk of money that motivates you to get creative and explore more options to help increase your income to pay debt off and become more stable. Being in debt has allowed me to think more in-depth about my financial goals and how I want to control my money rather than have it control me. I’ve learned that I love side hustles and I find the work I do outside of my full-time job very fulfilling!

You Have the Power to Change Your Life

When I first started reading personal finance blogs and stories about how people were able to get out of debt I couldn’t get enough. I became so inspired and motivated to work hard to improve my life and become one of those success stories too. While I still have a long way to go with my debt, I now know that I have the power to take control and change my life. Paying off $100,000, $50,000 or even $20,000 in debt has to feel empowering in a sense and it’s a testament to the fact that you don’t have to fall victim to your situation and accept a lifestyle that you never wanted to live.

Once you’ve allowed your debt to help change the way you think about money and your financial future, it will be extremely difficult to go back to your old ways and sink back into unhelpful traits like victimization, lifestyle inflation, and entitlement.

How has debt changed your overall mindset?

Chonce is a personal finance blogger and writer who enjoys sharing debt stories and talking about saving, budgeting, conscious spending, and improving your financial house. In her spare time she enjoys working out, playing sports with her son, cooking, and thrifting. You can read more about her journey to financial stability on her blog, My Debt Epiphany and connect with her on Twitter.

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!
About Kayla

Kayla is a mid-20s single girl living in the Midwest, USA. She is focused on paying off her consumer and student loans, while simplifying her life and closet. You can join her on her journey at ShoeaholicNoMore or follow her on Twitter.


  1. For us, being in debt has forced us to create behaviors that will probably stay with us after we’re out of debt. But in the end, I guess that’s what’s going to keep us out of debt once we’re out, so it’s all good 🙂

  2. Thanks for stopping by Ben! It’s almost as if debt puts you in an uncomfortable position leaving you almost no choice but to change crucial aspects of your life. For me it was either sink or swim.

  3. Wants Vs. Needs is really a key for me. Distinguishing the difference between those two things is not easy, but I figure once I do that my debt/potential debt with decrease drastically, thanks!

    • Debt definitely helped me distinguish the difference between what I wanted and what I truly needed. I realized I couldn’t have both, and I didn’t need both. Before long, my wants were not that hard to let go and I don’t even miss them as much as I thought I would 🙂

  4. I agree if you don’t change your mindset you will never change. A lot of people are comfortable with living with their debt. I actually use to think that having debt was what grown ups did. What was I thinking?

    • I agree that while having/accumulating debt might be common but maintaining debt and never allowing yourself to pay off the entire balance is not normal or acceptable no matter what everyone else is saying or doing. The other day a good friend of mine asked me why I was so serious about paying off my debt so quickly because I had “time” to pay it off and I was being too serious about it. I was happy to explain my reasoning to her and she ended up agreeing with me but it’s sad that people continue to think like that. I wish I can use my blog to find a way to help people realize it’s not normal and there’s a better way to live.

  5. We are our own worst enemy when it comes to accomplishing goals…..we are all capable of so much more than we think. You have to realize that you need something to change if you’re in debt..until you realize that, you will not be successful. Once you get out of debt, that should change your point of view again – thinking about that accomplishment, and applying the skills developed to accomplish that goal on a new one!

  6. I’ve always been pretty debt-adverse but had no other way to pay for law school. Once I started diligently working to pay it off, I really did take a look at my life as a whole. As you said, once you start making progress, it is empowering. I definitely started to realize that if I could make headway on $85,000 worth of debt, I really could work on other areas of my life as well.

    • Debt is often such a large part of our lives that once we realize how to control and get rid of it, we tend to get a better grip on other aspects of our lives as a whole. I’m glad to hear you’re dumping your law school debt. You can do it!

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