I have spent so many years being ashamed of my debt. By age 28, I was almost 100k in debt.
Just sharing that number with the world makes me so uncomfortable I want to go hide under a rock.
“What will people think of me?”
“With debt that huge, will I be single forever? Who wants a burden like me?”
“How have I messed up my life so badly?”
Those are all honest thoughts that have plagued my brain over the past couple years since graduation. I felt like I had this deep, dark secret.
What if no one liked me if they knew that I was not actually “successful“.
I have wanted to start a financial blog for a long time (read why here) but only if I could be truthful with my readers about my debt and spending. That meant I needed to find a way to stop being ashamed of my debt. Finding the confidence to write (and post) this has taken a lot of reading and soul searching.
“But what will people think?”. The sentence that haunts so many people, myself included.
Before I explain how I got into debt, I would like to suggest two books that transformed how I talk to myself. I believe a big part of improving your finances is being honest and accepting of who and where you are at in your life RIGHT NOW.
These books inspired me to be transparent about my debt, even with the possible judgement. I’m no longer ashamed of my debt.
So how did I find myself almost 100k in debt at age 28? 5 things majorly impacted my finances:
- Student loans
- Leaving an abusive relationship
- Acne/skin problems
- Vet costs
Let me explain each in more detail.
1. Student loans
To date, I have spent 7 years of my life in university and no, I’m not a doctor. However, I went to my first university for 2.5 years straight out of high school to pursue becoming doctor. I grew up in a small town and knew I loved science and health, so “doctor” was the only career I knew that could fit. I had to move to a bigger city and live far from family to get my degree.
Unfortunately, I realized I disliked diagnosing conditions or dealing with medications. There was a tiny portion of one of my classes on nutrition, and when I realized you can have a career as a dietitian, I switched programs.
I lost 4 semesters of credits that did not transfer programs, and also had to change universities. While I was a good student all through university and earned scholarships, they were only enough to cover tuition (not living expenses). My family had financial struggles of their own and were unable to assist me, so I relied on student loans for 7 years to cover living costs such as food and rent. This amounted to approximately 80 thousand in debt.
2. Leaving an abusive relationship
I am not going to lie: this one is hard to talk about. I walked away from an abusive relationship with almost nothing to my name. When I left I was finishing up an unpaid internship rotation at the time, and adjusting to my new life. One day after work I was exhausted, and decided to just have a can of soup for dinner. I realized at that moment that the can opener was at my previous home with “him”. While trying to open the can with a knife I cut my hand. I remember sitting down on the borrowed patio furniture in my kitchen, and just crying.
Yeah, that was a low point in my life.
So if you’re reading this and are stressed about where your life is at, look at me. I hit rock rock bottom, and I’m doing well! You can too.
Total cost of furnishing a new place and buying all the items I needed? Add another 5k to my debt (thank you kijiji and friends for the hand-me-downs!).
To hear more about my story and why I think the cost is likely higher, read this.
3. Acne/skin problems
It may sound strange to say acne increased my debt, but it’s true. In fact, I wrote an entire article about what finally worked for me. I tried everything for 5 years to fix my skin: Products, supplements, different diets. My skin majorly impacted my self confidence, and I tried everything to fix it. It is hard to estimate how much I spent, but definitely a few thousand.
4. Vet costs
Pets; you have got to love them. I adopted a dog named Burrito in the time between universities. He was my first pet as an adult, and I loved him like crazy. The rescue shelter did not know exactly how old he was, but we guessed about 10. He had had a terrible life living on the streets of Vancouver, and most of his body had been broken. I originally wanted to adopt a rottweiler puppy, but when I saw Burrito my heart melted. He was a 20 pound corgi/pug mix with a terrible under-bite and massive behavioral issues. We took to each other instantly, and we had 5 awesome years together.
He had some major health issues during that time (a blown ear drum, organ shut down, etc) but I was always eager to save him. I figure I spent approximately 5k on him, and do not regret a penny of it. I’ve since learned ways to save money on dogs, which I discuss here.
When I was 25, I went to Kenya using a Groupon trip. Could I afford it? No. However, I was young and stupid with money, and went anyways. And you know what? I am so glad I did because I have amazing memories that I will never forget! Travel is one of those tricky things for me. It is expensive, but it is also a massive passion. I think travel is where I struggle the most between ” You only live once!” and “Be responsible with your money”. If you stick with me on this blog journey, I will discuss how I’m balancing fulfilling my need to get away with my desire to become debt free. Kenya cost me about 5k, and also is money I do not regret spending.
So there you have it! That’s me, financial warts and all. You officially know the life shovel I used to dig my massive financial debt. I hope you continue to follow along on my journey while I pay off my debt while still living a life I’m excited about.
For a list of all posts I’ve written, click here