Friday, April 25, 2014

Debt journey: Years in review (Pt1)

I've been thinking a lot about the past, as I am almost at my last student loan payment. My last "past"/foolish debt payment. My debt journey is still pretty young. I see it something like this:
The never ending journey. Climb a mountain, another one will peek through the horizon. Of course, there are always smaller mountains (like car repairs, medical emergencies, etc), so that's why I consider it never ending; big and small mountains, going on and on and on.
Anyway, that's not what I wanted to talk about, but a quick review of what has happened since I first looked at the whole mess that was my debt. Lucky for us, that's only 6 years of history. Talk about making me feel like the kid in the group! For this first part, I'll go over everything that happened first, prior 2008. Take it like a second introduction!


We moved to the US back in Christmas of 2003. I'm the second born in a family of 7 that had to be uprooted in relatively short notice due to residency matters. In short, my parents had applied to US residency before none of us 5 kids were born. 18 years later, we get the notice that it has finally been approved, and that we have 12 months to move or the application will be withdrawn. Well, isn't that nice?! So off we went.

Back home, my parents were already bad with money. My father who brought home 95% of the income wanted nothing to do with it. He just handed the checks to my mother for her to "manage". My mother was THE Joneses. On the outside, probably the richest of the block, we usually had first access to the new stuff, but on the inside, there was plenty of trouble brewing. Lots of debts. I am still ignorant of how much it was, how much it still is, but it was a LOT. Big and many.

Us kids were overly sheltered from... well, everything. We were never allowed outside, never allowed to handle money (no allowance or purchases of snacks, etc), not allowed to have an opinion, never allowed to go to peoples' houses or to have friends not mother-approved... and let me tell you, she disapproved of her own and my dad's family, so take a guess at how many friends we truly had!

Once we moved to the US, things didn't become that much easier either... a lot of sacrifices, and then came credit cards, pay day loans, and quite a bit of welfare help. Disastrous start, no? It gets worse. For having such a small income, you'd think having debt would just be impossible, but it wasn't. Then me and my brother got into college and graduated both with student loans. We both worked PT during school months, and FT during summer/winter. It seemed that the more income the house got, the worse things got, the more debt that appeared. That's about the time I "got" my first credit card that I didn't know about until another 4 years later... my mother opened them for me, as well as my brother and my dad, and "managed" them. She did pay them on time, but it was incredible how quickly they were all maxed, and then it was the "minimum payment" game forever since.

This is getting long, so I'll stop it here. It brings us to right to the middle of 2008, while I was finishing school, and I still had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. It was also a bit before we got the "student loan" mandatory class before graduation, where they throw all sorts of numbers at you. Exciting stuff.


  1. I so admire you, I just think you are the best!

  2. You've done an amazing job to change the route your parents had you headed on!

  3. It is certainly a journey. You've come a long way.

    Peace <3

  4. I really like reading about your past. Do you also have step siblings? Sometimes it seems like you might.

  5. Hi Tanner - Your post makes me so grateful that my parents were such good money managers. There wasn't a lot to manage - at most my dad made $10,000 a year but my mom was a wizard at stretching the pennies. And my dad was extremely frugal. BUT - inspire of it all you have made great gains and also have the wisdom (somehow) to get your own finances sorted out. It's amazing what you can learn from negative circumstances. You are an inspiration to us all!