don't settle with staying in debt

Long time, no see! Whew, as explained in a previous post, these past few weeks have brought a whirlwind of changes. I attended South by Southwest 2016 festival in mid-March, went to Oregon for a week, then two days later hopped on a plane and left the country and will be where I’m at for the next five months. I’m living in Bangkok, Thailand at the moment and loving it.

Now I’m back and ready to talk about something weird I’ve been noticing happening lately: settling with staying in debt.

Ah, when something gains in popularity, there eventually starts to be more opposition to it. Right? The main debt topic is student loan debt, but I will touch on others as well. Many people have student loans and as they’ve been talked about more, articles have been popping up discussing ways to pay down student loans faster and getting out of debt.

What I did to pay off $28,000 of student loans in three years.

How I paid off $40,000 in student loans in 1.5 years

What I did to pay off my $50,000 in student loans in five years while on a small salary. 

Most everyone has read at least a few of these articles They’re really freaking inspiring. The people featured in these articles and the ones reading them are looking for ways to pay off their debt and move on with their lives. Personally, the idea of being debt-free seems like one of the best things to experience (I still got them student loans, paying them off as quick as I can!).

Well, eventually articles taking the opposite stance started to gain more popularity.

How to consolidate your student loan debt!

Loan forgiveness programs and jobs to get your student loans wiped away

I have 90K in student loans and in no rush to pay it off fast

The articles detailing how to consolidate or get loans forgiven rubbed me the wrong way. Then essays started popping up of people saying they were in no rush to pay off their student loan debt.

In a way, I could see where the articles were coming from. Seeing countless pieces on paying down debt super fast can get discouraging. You see the big numbers people paid off every month and feel like you could never reach that level.

While at work a few months back, me and some of my co-workers talked about the high price of college nowadays. To my dismay, some of my co-workers talked about how they were in student loan debt but in no hurry to pay it off.

Paying debt off early is good, but I want to live my life you know? 

I don’t want to cut back on things in my life in order to pay off my debt faster. I wanna live life to the fullest. 

Hearing these reasonings led me to think about all the ways people settle with staying in debt (student loan debt, auto debt, and credit card debt).

1. People view frugality and/or cutting back as limiting rather than empowering. 

It sucked to hear my co-workers say these things about their debt because it showed how people still view cutting back as something limiting rather than empowering. Cutting back on things in your expenses, in order to put more toward debt payoff, is  does not have to be limiting. It’s all about assessing one’s priorities and goals.

Do you really need to have a top of the line apartment without roommates? Do you really need that fancy gym membership or deluxe cable package? Are you sure there isn’t any way you can drive your vehicle less so you can save on fuel and auto insurance expenses? The list goes on.

2. Failing to see long term 

We can all agree that life can be expensive. Yeah you can cut back and do without this but there are always unexpected costs and things you can’t avoid. You know what makes handling these occurrences easier? Being debt-free.

Being debt-free opens up more opportunities for you and gives you more flexibility. Ask yourself, what could you do with the extra money you save on interest from paying off debt early?

Being debt-free allows you to embrace your future without being held back by your past.

3. Seeing debt as something inevitable

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think having debt is some horrid thing that should be avoided at all costs. Although it should be minimized. Debt taken on should be thought through and something you know you can manage and have a plan of action to get rid of.

Ask yourself how the debt will affect your life. Be intentional and really know why you are taking on debt.

4. Paying off debt early makes you more awesome

I super duper like people who make it a goal of theirs to aggressively pay off their debt early…and then actually do it. Many of these people understand their priorities and assess their situations. They understand doing some thing for the short term to pay off in the long term.

The take on second jobs, look for additional sources of income, reduce their spending, hustle, and increase their overall grit and work ethic.

People who willingly just pay the minimum amount and move on? They’re too passive.


Debt shouldn’t be something that’s seen as commonplace. It’s limiting and something to be avoided. After all, not too long ago in America, having debt put people in a bad place.

How do you view your debt? Do you consider it a fact of life or something to be rid of as soon as necessary? 

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Colin // RebelwithaPlan

Colin Ashby is the writer behind Rebel with a Plan, a website dedicated to people who choose to rebel against the norm of living in debt and feeling financially unenlightened. He believes everyone has an eccentric quality to embrace and that lattes are sometimes a necessity (despite what the personal finance community tells you).

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  • Holly Johnson

    A lot of the income-based repayment plans for student loans require monthly payments for up to 25 years. That’s a really long time to repay anything other than a mortgage in my opinion.

    • Yeah, I seriously don’t get why people go with doing income-based repayment. I know it’s slightly more manageable but you end up paying so much more in interest…

  • Spencer Wood

    I completely understand your view on this and would like to add to it. The thing with debt is that your borrowing from your future earnings and for that service, the loan agencies and credit cards give you an interest rate that depending on what kind of debt ranges from reasonable 3% to get it down and now 20/25% a year.

    • “borrowing from your future earnings” YES! Millennial Money Man also wrote a great post on “Why I Live Debt-Free”. He gave some really eye-opening reasons why he lives debt-free. Debt limits your options.