One of my favorite things about being a personal finance blogger is featuring my readers. After all, they are the engine that makes this whole thing go, right?
The other day, one of the members of the M$M private group, Eric, tagged me in a GREAT question!
I really had to stop and think about what he asked (which I'll get to shortly), because it's something I've always thought about…
Where would I be without the $40,000 of student loans I used to have? Would I be successful if I hadn't been in debt after college?
On one hand, I hated having student loan debt, but on the other hand, everything I've built with this blog is directly related to it. If I didn't have a story about student loans, I would still be a teacher, would never have started M$M or Laptop Empires, and probably would not be interested in personal finance at all.
My student loans, in some way, made me who I am today. Isn't that crazy?
I think that's probably the case for a lot of people that have stumbled across M$M and stuck around. Most of my readers are people that had some kind of situation they wanted to dig out of, and in the process, they've become personal finance nerds.
As I was scrolling across the responses to Eric's question, I saw something pretty important: All of these people could have been upset about their personal financial situation.
They could have just blamed someone else and stayed where they were, or complain and never do anything about it.
But…that's not what they did at all. Instead, they used their situation as motivation to get ahead and finally start feeling good about money.
I think it's really important to read their responses below if you're needing a little motivation. There's a little something for everyone.
Here's Eric's question:
“Do you think you are as successful as you are in personal finance because you had something that motivated you to be so? For example, I know Bobby had $40k in student loans. If you hadn’t been buried in that debt, how do you think things would be different today?
I feel like my student loan debt motivates me to get to a better life that maybe I wouldn’t be as financially as motivated of a person had I not been in this situation. Curious if that was your experience?
Do others feel this way?
Keep killing it ???love this community!”
This is what some of the M$M community said about their personal finance motivations (including yours truly):
“Our kids have motivated 100% of our financial goals with the exception of tithing. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but our peer millennial friends aren't in the same position financially, and keep saying they need to hit X money milestone (which is always ambiguous) before they get married/ have kids. We can't relate to that, because everything– moving back home to save for a down payment, our rate of savings, having life insurance, our retirement planning, our frugal habits– all comes from having kids as young as we did. We definitely weren't on a path to do that stuff before they showed up on the sonogram!” – Melissa
“I'd say it was getting pregnant and not being able to support myself as well. I was making rent plus a couple hundred dollars per month (which, uh, doesn't pay for the electricity bill in Phoenix in the summertime) and I NEVER want to feel that helpless again.” – Amanda
“I had 13k in student loans when I graduated last year, and I think if I didn’t have this debt, I wouldn’t be near as in-tune with my finances. Having that debt made me research everything! The grace period, unsubsidized vs. subsidized, it made me budget religiously. Doing that opened my eyes to all other financial situations I will face in my lifetime. (Also helped me find great FB groups!) I have my financial future planned out for years to come. My parents wanted me to have some “skin in the game” which has been very beneficial. My fiancé and I are now house searching, and we can’t wait to buy one well under what we can actually “afford”. – Sydney
“Good question – I don’t think it was all because of the loans, but it’s part of it. The biggest key was hanging out with other people that cared about personal finance. After they lit the spark, the loans were just the first piece of the puzzle I needed to figure out.” – M$M aka Bobby aka Me
“The recession hands down changed my relationship with money. I graduated college in 2007 with a degree in a “recession proof” field (nursing) only to get laid off in 2009 when the hospital shut down a bunch of units. Even though I was always able to stay on my feet, went back to grad school and now make 3x what I did then, I still feel the need to diversify my income with a side hustle. I also paid off my student loans in under 2 years after grad school and have maxed out my 401K deductions from the very first paycheck (you can’t miss the money you never knew you had to begin with.)” – Laci
“Money was a major issue for my family growing up. Parents divorced and I know it was a huge factor. I got advice from a FI uncle and went from there. I never want money to control my life.” – Nathan
“Honestly, we were comfortable with our debt and the lifestyle we were living until we hit rock bottom. My husband wanted to leave his corporate management job and we had to make drastic changes to get to that point. When we finally made the decision to change we had $83k in consumer debt plus a home mortgage.” – Sara
“My wake up call was about a year ago. I was in the midst of financing a new home when my company was bought. When we switched payrolls it caused a big mess with the loan. One of my employees was buying a house too so I got HR to write us both letters explaining the situation. I was so happy thinking I had gone the extra mile for one of my people when she said “I appreciate that but we're paying cash. We are big Dave Ramsey followers and Asian so it's what we do.” I was floored. And more than slightly jealous. I started listening to DR podcasts and wrapping my brain around the true cost of debt – and the opportunity costs. I'll have my “consumer debt” (ie. Everything but my mortgage) paid in January. Along the way, my husband drop a $28k credit card balance bomb (I had no idea) on me so we've fire saled a car and an RV and a lot of other stuff. We'll be free of $130k+ consumer debt in January so about 18 months total. I don't think she'll ever appreciate how much she changed my life that day.” – Heather
“As much as I hate my student loan debt I don't think I would be working at my finances so aggressively without the “motivation” of paying them off. I say motivation, but it was more necessity if I wasn't aggressive I wouldn't have been able to do anything (buy a house etc) for a VERY long time.” – Tami
“Paying off all of my student loans and realizing the amount of interest paid made me really start to scrutinize where my money goes. I now am tackling my mortgage at a rapid pace as it pains me to see the interest. The recession hit us hard when my husband lost his job and I got pink-slipped at the same time. We learned the importance of spending beneath our means in case one of us ever loses our job again. Also, we have had a ton of medical expenses so being able to carefully spend and save, we continue to stay motivated to one day be financially independent.” – Dana
Here's something to think about…
Maybe you're in a bad situation with money right now or something you weren't expecting came up, and you're feeling lost. That's OK. We've all been there.
I'll never forget that feeling I had when I opened up that first letter I received from Sallie Mae after graduating from college. It was like getting hit over the head with the reality that I had to dig myself out of a hole (that I created by the way). It sucked and I felt like an idiot for letting the situation get that bad.
But here's the deal – you have two options when you're faced with those events:
- You can do nothing, complain, blame someone else, and never get ahead
- You can join a community, start reading personal finance blogs, arm yourself with knowledge, take responsibility, and go kick some a** (from like a…financial perspective)
I like the second option. Hope you do too. 🙂