Improvement, Journal

Debt

It took me a number of years but I’ve finally worked my way out of student debt. The way I went about it was by paying a little more than 200% of what was due each month. I would have paid more if I could’ve afforded it.

While I was doing this, I was working on saving for a home. Obviously, the student debt was impeding my progress but that seems to be unavoidable without a socialist in the White House. (And if we do get a socialist in the White House, I’m banking on tax breaks for paying my loans off early.)

Either way, it appears that I’ll be going from one debt to another, which makes me feel a lot more like a debtor than an owner. Speaking of ownership, I’m the proud owner of a Toyota Corolla named Dorian Gray (because it’s Slate Gray.) But we’re saving for the family’s next car and we won’t be able to afford to buy it outright. And we’ll most likely also have a mortgage by then.

The problem with debt may simply be a problem of employment. Most people can be assured that they’ll have a job for the majority of their working life. Some will be unlucky. Others will be underpaid. Perhaps they’re also just down on their luck.

When someone loses their job, debts become an unbearable burden. So, when it comes to debt, I’ll allow myself to take out loans. But I will soften the blow by saving as much as possible for down payments (e.g. at least 20% for a home so I can avoid mortgage insurance) and I will pay off these debts with as much expedience as possible.

I don’t believe I’ll be out of work for any extended amount of time in the next thirty years, but I could take a cut in salary which could be potentially damaging. So, I’ll also avoid adding to my burden by purchasing what I can’t afford or by spending recklessly. This will also help me pay down the debts I accrue faster.

photo: Alice Pasqual

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Justin Meckes is a writer and filmmaker living in Chapel Hill, NC. His short stories have been published in various online journals and magazines. He has ghostwritten novels and is the author of several children's books. You can learn more about him at justinmeckes.com or by sending an email to contact@justinmeckes.com.