A few weeks ago I was fortunate to win a Rockstar Finance Forum contest with an entry writing a “dear debt” letter to my stupid mortgage company that mails me weekly (yes weekly!) letters begging me to take out a home equity loan. My prize? A copy of the new book Dear Debt (affiliate link) by Melanie Lockert. Of course, being the reading nerd I am as soon as it arrived I tore right through it, and now I’ll tell you all about it. Before I do, spoiler alert – I really liked the book and would highly recommend it to anyone struggling with debt, or anyone that wants to help others working their way through debt.
Melanie writes the blog Dear Debt, where she has published her own – and others – letters breaking up with that old boyfriend who’s just not working out, Debt. I actually first heard about her and her book on Farnoosh Torabi’s So Money podcast (check out the episode here), so I was excited to get a chance to read the book. Melanie had accomplished a lot, on a small salary, through hard work and determination, while making her journey fun and interesting.
Dear Debt: A Story About Breaking Up With Debt
The book is all about Melanie’s personal story of a journey from a “dream graduate school” student amassing $81k in debt, working a $12 per hour temp job on food stamps, all the way through to her goal of debt freedom. How did she do it? The old fashioned way – hard work, saving, side hustles, living frugally, and keeping herself accountable through her blog (OK, the blog part isn’t really old-fashioned per se).
In between her story, Melanie gives the reader a ton of resources they can use if they too are struggling with debt. There’s a great list of personal finance blogs you can use as a resource to get out of debt – including some of my favorites like Budgets are Sexy. She gives practical tips and sites to use as resources to refinance or pay off your loans, as well as a good selection of places you should check out if you want to live more frugally.
Toward the end of the book, she shares the secret of getting out of debt – to change your mindset. I couldn’t agree more. When you are in an overwhelming situation – whether it be a huge amount of debt, a medical crisis, a full-blown emergency, a job loss, or something else – it can be very easy to have the wrong mindset. To keep focusing on the negative, the “I can’t”, the jealousy, and to keep your head in the sand (if I don’t look it’s not real!). Changing your mindset to focus instead on the reality of your situation, on the positive, on what you can do, and to appreciate what you have rather than being jealous of others are key to achieving your goals and dreams.
In addition to her personal story, good advice, and those great resources to help with debt, Melanie also shares “Dear Debt” letters from some of her readers. Those are fun to read and help make the book an interesting one. If you go over to her site you can also read more of these interesting letters, which are all about telling Debt where to go.
My Dear Debt Letter
You might be wondering what I wrote to win the contest – here you go!
I’m not sure why you keep trying to meet up with me. A certified letter for a home equity loan from the mortgage company? Massive amounts of credit card letters? Car companies begging me to buy new cars? Really, come on. I thought you would know by now that I’m just not that into you.
You see, right now I’m debt free except for my mortgage, and I plan to pay that off in five years. And you know how it feels? Great! A few years ago my husband went through a medical crisis where he almost died of septic shock. Fortunately we had an emergency fund and we always had invested, but we also had some “normal” debt. And guess what – it sucked. It was like a heavy chain around our necks at just the time we needed it the least.
So we went down a path to kick you out of our lives, which we did in about a year, and now we want that last chain of the mortgage gone. Once that happens we’ll be free of you forever, and we’ll know we really own everything in our lives-you don’t own us.
So Debt, bottom line – it’s not me, it’s you. Sorry/not sorry.
Sincerely, Chief Mom Officer
So if you’re struggling with debt or know someone who is, be sure to check out this book and pop on over to Melanie’s site. You’ll be glad you did.