Note: Matt has put together this introductory post in his quest to become the next blogger on BAD. Feel free to make comments or ask questions on what he’s written. More information about the new blogger position can be found here
Hi! My name is Matt and I’d like to start by telling the world why I want out of this debt-ridden lifestyle: I hate the financial prison it’s held me in since graduating from college in 2009. My reason for being out of debt is primarily for selfish reasons (until I have a wife and potential family); I would love the freedom of knowing I have more options than living a “9-5”, “5 day a week” lifestyle for 40+ years before retiring and only then realizing I would be too old to enjoy it. That being said, I enjoy what I do and love my employer, which at least makes my debt burden a little lighter.
I graduated from college, with a BS in mechanical engineering, into one of the worst job markets this economy has ever seen. Thankfully, I was able to find a position in the public sector (only 1/2 my graduating class could say they found a job in our field immediately upon graduation, and some still haven’t). Unfortunately, this is where most of my debt lies- from a higher education that may or may not have been worth the price of admission. I currently have ~87K in student loans, which are down from the ~110K I started with. I have since switched positions to the private sector (bringing home $3,200 a month), bought a (used) car, bought some furniture on a credit card (paid off) and took on a mortgage. I owe ~10.5K on the car and ~71.5K on the mortgage.
The burden I put on myself didn’t hit me until my first payment on the student loans came due and while I was doing what I could to pay off my debts as quickly as I could on my minimal government salary, I fought (for the better part of two years) with the realization that it all could have been avoided. I could have paid attention to the money I was “spending” and went to a state school. I could have not gone to school at all. I also spent the last 4 years on a financial roller coaster either paying off debt, quickly, with little regard of anything or anyone else and spending money as if a pending apocalypse were approaching (to an extent. I don’t use credit cards so I could only spend the cash I had in various accounts.) But now, knowing there’s 1,000’s of young adults in the same position as myself, I own my debt and I’m not afraid of telling anyone who’s willing to listen of my situation. I’ve always felt honesty is the best policy- I use this in my day job and I would use it here.
I currently live in a small metropolitan with low living costs with my wonderful girlfriend of 1.5 yrs (we met on OK Cupid) and our ‘children’- 2 of the most loving, wonderful rescue dogs in the world. In my spare time I love outdoor activities including surfing, mountain biking, longboarding, and golf and love playing my guitar (which I do everyday). Debt tracking and budgeting have also quickly become some of my favorite things to do. Watching those debt totals fall may be the closest to nirvana I’ll ever come.
I became inspired in September after reading BAD, Mr. Money Mustache, and Man vs. Debt to get rid of debt for good, come hell or high water. Since my epiphany, I’ve paid off 5K of debt, built an emergency fund of 5K and increased my net worth by 15K. I’m hoping that I can build even more steam with the help I’ll get here.
Jeffrey strain is a freelance author, his work has appeared at The Street.com and seekingalpha.com. In addition to having authored thousands of articles, Jeffrey is a former resident of Japan, former owner of Savingadvice.com and a professional digital nomad.