"Words of Encouragement About Debt"

Getting Out of Debt Stories

Truth be told, my debt story is pretty boring. It doesn't have some surprise ending, like winning the lottery or finding a rich, long lost relative. No, I am still in debt. It's not to the extreme that it was a few short months ago, but it is definitely still a factor in my life.

I decided to share my experiences because I feel that my situation is more common than people who are in it realize and because I know how overwhelming it can be. Hopefully, someone can learn from my experiences or at least be comforted.

Let's start with some basic information: I live in a small town in Arizona, I am female, and I am only 22 years old. While I wish I could say that my debt is school-related, it's not. It's part bad decisions, part naive decisions, and a little bit of unfortunate circumstances.

It all started when I moved back home from college and started working for my parents. I had virtually no bills and a great job, so I decided to buy myself a "new" used car. Taking on the payments of a sports car and the insurance was a little more than I had expected, but I was still making good money and was able to pay it without any problems.

Then, my parents sold their business. I didn't stay with the new owners; instead I struck out to find a new job.

But the thought of working for someone else was extremely unappealing, so I decided I deserved a little break. Instead of getting a new job to financially support myself, I simply applied for a credit card.

My thinking was that I could use it for a couple months and THEN apply for a job and instantly land one making the same amount of money I had been before. I thought it was a pretty great plan.

Then I got the DUI. Some jail time and a couple of court appearance later, I had a new $2000 debt in the form of fines, as well as fees for counseling, traffic school, and the inevitable breathalyzer.

With an almost maxed out credit card, it was at this time that I decided to search for a new job. I did find a job quickly, but it did not make me the money I was used to. I found myself struggling to pay the bills while continuing to keep up my fun-filled lifestyle.

So what did I do? What any 21 year old would do - I blew off the bills and continued to have a great time. This all happened around April and come August, towards the end of summer, I started getting collection calls from my credit cards. I also received letters from the courts because I was past due on my fines and hadn't taken my classes.

It was time to buckle down; I even got a second job for supplemental income. Everything went all right for about a month, until I had a miscarriage.

This came as a complete surprise to my boyfriend and I and it landed me in the hospital for about 12 hours. Not only was this event traumatizing, but for the half-day I spent in the ER, I came out with $20,000 in medical bills, as well as a few smaller miscellaneous bills ranging from $100 to $500 dollars.

This was, obviously, a big financial blow as well, and it set me back farther than I had ever expected to be at this age.

While I realize that my debt story is not as severe as some people's, and I also realize that I will be able to get myself out of it, I have still had those disheartening days.

Any amount of debt is claustrophobic - you feel like you can't do anything relaxing or go anywhere for fun because your money needs to go here or there or anywhere other than in your own pocket. Simple things that come up, like car maintenance, feel like a huge burden because your money has to go towards something that isn't what you're trying to get out of.

I feel a certain amount of shame because I know that part of my situation was caused by simply stupid decisions on my part. But, you can't blame yourself forever. Eventually you just have to tell yourself "This is what it is" and do what you can.

At this point in time, including all my credit cards, medical bills, car loan, and court fines, I have about $35,000 left to pay off. I have taken on more hours at both jobs and stopped going out in order to get caught up.

These aren't special tips or tricks that will give you an "ah-ha!" moment and help you get out - they're simply words of encouragement.

If you're in your early twenties, hopefully this will make you think twice about applying for something you can't afford. If you're already in debt, keep your chin up and again, do what you can. Don't let it overwhelm you. It will get better.

Contributed by Anonymous from Arizona

USA Bankruptcy Guide : Getting Out of Debt Stories : Words of Encouragement About Debt