Occasionally, I also write on another personal finance website called Saving Advice. The site, which typically gives out financial advice and insights into saving methods, also has a blog section where everyday people can blog about their finances. There are a number of people who have blogged there for over a decade. One of the newest members is what recently caught my attention though.
An American Debt Story
In the original post, the blogger outlined their debt and broke it down into accounts. Immediately, people began to comment on the couple’s astounding debt figures. After having paid off more than $60,000, they remain $232,000 in debt. From the post:
A bit about myself, I’m a thirty-something-year-old woman living in Alaska with her husband who’s in the ARMY and 3 children (16yo girl, 13yo girl, and 4yo boy). I’m a Dave Ramsey enthusiast although I do disagree with some of his teachings (for example, saving $1,000 for emergency fund).
The comment section was full of suggestions on what the family should do as well as other personal stories to help her know that she’s not alone. In fact, a lot of people on the site have paid off six figures in debt. But the real question is how does $232000 in debt accrue?
How Do You Get $232000 in Debt?
First and foremost, if you take a look at the original post (linked above), you will see that the family has FOUR car payments they are in charge of making. This one of the biggest red flags on the list of their debts. They also have tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt. There are also a number of personal loans and student loans listed as well.
All in all, there has been very little reflection (on the part of the blogger) on what got them into this situation, to begin with. They owe payments on a Prius, truck, van, and RV. There is no doubt with three children that the van is likely needed, but the other vehicles are excess. The blogger says that they use the Prius for Doordash, but even the average Doordash salary would not excuse the monthly cost in car payments.
When it comes to “how does this happen,” it is the lack of self-reflection that plays a huge role. When a problem arises, a loan came through for them in an emergency instead of a savings fund. They have also made a lot of unnecessary expensive purchases.
Of course, I still hold quite a bit of my own debt. We have not been able to make much progress on our debt freedom journey in recent months, but we are able to truly examine our finances. At this time, while she’s made a huge step in blogging about their debt, she hasn’t truly examined their finances.
She lists budgeting as one of her hobbies in the first post. However, she is still budgeting outside of what they actually have coming in. She is budgeting around debt payments and loan money. I think before she truly makes progress beyond the minimum payments she will have to identify what got them there in the first place.
For our family, we continued to go into debt because we overspent or thought we could afford more than we actually could (i.e. higher rent, too high car payments, etc). This is because we lived paycheck-to-paycheck our entire lives. So, when we got paid, it was “treat yourself” day. Because of this, we have to budget a set amount of money for “fun” activities so we don’t splurge. The reasoning behind their family’s debt will likely look different and so will the solution.
Readers, what do you think about this couples’ $232000 in debt? What would you suggest for them?