"I Am Not Debt Free"

Getting Out of Debt Stories

I am not debt free. In fact I am very far from it. Remembering back to when I was seems like a thousand years ago. I was 19, getting ready to move to a big city for college, and was living a debt free life.

Then, as if it was pre-ordained, I got a call one day from a company who no doubt got my number from my soon to be college. They were looking for future college students who wanted a credit card (which is now an illegal practice).

I, of course, accepted their offer; and in a few short days got my first credit card which had a whopping $300 limit.

I used it from time to time while in the big city. Then, as times got tough, and I was preparing to move back home, I used it more. Pretty recklessly. Eventually they raised my limit, which is of course how they make money, and after a few years I was up to a $2,000 limit, with almost 3/4 of that being used.

I regret ever getting that card, and looking back on that event wish my mother would have been more involved (if I'd of let her), and told me it was a bad idea. That was in 1998.

Now, after several more credit cards (all of which, but one, is in default) $75,000 in student loans, and two collections lawsuits, I am at a very strange place in my financial life.

A very hermetical financial life.

I write freelance, so the lawsuits have never freed up any of my income through garnishment. I have a call block on my phone, and block every collection agency that calls. If a new number does call, I screen it before answering. If it is a collection agency, I block it. I also do not answer unknown or private calls. It is similar to being in prison in that sort of inescapable feeling way.

When I am done with my second round of college (I'm in grad school), I plan to file bankruptcy. A fresh start.

My lesson is that I should have just been more careful. I should have been more responsible. It's not a life anyone should lead. My advice would be to avoid credit until you are at the very least 30 years old. Around that age one knows what is equitable in monetary decisions, and won't just live off of a credit card.

Working for myself and blocking the outside world in that way is the only way I have become free of debt. It's freedom from a psychological prison. Soon, it will be a reality.

But until then, this is my sanctuary, even if it's abstract.

Contributed by Shawn from Ohio