Personal Responsibility and Debt Relief Are Not Dirty Words

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Last week my story to pay off credit card debt was shared in a post on Business Insider, and subsequently picked up by Yahoo Finance.  I really appreciated the opportunity, and I think the article turned out great.

There were many positive comments on both posts stating support for our journey, and for what we have learned and accomplished. There were also a fair number of comments questioning how we could have ever let things get so far out of control to accumulate such a massive amount of credit card debt as well as wondering what effects our debt has had, and will continue to have on our children. I can respect those comments, as they are both valid points.

What I did not expect were comments like this:

no no no ……. if you CAN walk away you DO walk away ….To pay down that much debt if your not legally required to do so via court order is foolish ….”

Imagine if they had filed bankruptcy. They would be 82,000 plus dollars richer.”

I want to restate something I’ve said before about our situation. We have never had an income problem, it has always been a spending problem. More accurately, it’s been a communication about spending problem. When we entered our debt management plan we knew we would need to make lifestyle changes. As mentioned in the article, it took us quite awhile to really come to grips with how pervasive those lifestyle changes would need to be. But if we handle our finances correctly and carefully, we have the ability to pay back everything we owe with the help our our DMP.

Yet there were comments like those above that imply I am making a mistake by paying back the money that owe. I simply do not understand this point of view, specifically the phrase “If your (sic) not legally required to do so.” I willingly, of sound mind, participated in a 13 year spending spree of mind numbing proportions using borrowed money.

Why would I not  pay it back if I’m able to do so?

The Free Dictionary defines bankrupt as “A debtor that, upon voluntary petition or one invoked by the debtor’s creditors, is judged legally insolvent.” I also found this definition of insolvent: “unable to satisfy creditors or discharge liabilities, either because liabilities exceed assets or because of inability to pay debts as they mature.” I do believe there are proper applications of bankruptcy, but I do not think I  fit within those parameters.  Even if I would have legally qualified for bankruptcy, I am completely at peace with my decision to pay back my debt.

It’s simply a matter of personal responsibility.

The other kind of comment that rubbed me the wrong way were ones like these:

This looks like an advertisement for credit counseling. I could be wrong but it seems a bit canned. Just FYI.”

Wait a minute…Is this an ad for CareOne Debt Relief Services? If it is, shame on you BI for masquerading an add for a consumer credit counseling (CCC) agency as an actual article.”

These comments are accusing Business Insider of running an article that was nothing more than an advertisement for my debt management company, which was obviously false.   Looking at the site for under 60 seconds I found articles containing specific mentions of many companies including Apple, Samsung, Google, Facebook, ITC, Bank of America, and Walmart. Yet only a reference to a debt relief company prompts readers to assert the accusation that the piece was an advertisement masquerading as an article. Shortly after the comments above were posted, the specific mention of CareOne was removed from the article and replaced with a more generic “debt management company” reference.

The referenced comments along with the above reaction are really summed up by the below comment, which also happens to illustrates perfectly the major reason I continue to write about our experience:

IMHO CCC”s are nothing more but unscrupulous vultures who swoop in when people are at their lowest point and cash in.”

Debt, the process of getting out of debt, and debt relief companies themselves have a negative connotation associated with them. It’s hard to admit to people that you are in debt. Telling someone that you are in a debt relief program or associated with a debt relief company  is kind of like telling someone you have a contagious disease. Nobody wants to stand next to you.  Quite honestly, I could care less if strangers comment on a post stating how foolish we were for racking up that much debt, especially with a high income. I already know that. I couldn’t give a flying crap if someone doesn’t agree with my choice of debt relief. That’s my personal choice.

What I absolutely cannot stand  is the ignorant perpetuation of  false information about debt relief. I want my story to reach other people who are struggling with debt, and who have lost hope of ever being free from its death grip. I don’t want them to look at me and see a guy that racked up a bunch of debt and is now paying it off. What I want them to learn from my story is that they have real and workable options to explore including debt management, debt settlement, and yes, even bankruptcy. I want them to have accurate information as to their choices, allowing them to make an educated decision towards their next step in taking their life back.

People in debt should not have to struggle forever.

I will continue to write, I will continue to do interviews, and I will continue to tell anyone that will listen. Remove the specific mention if you must, leave a comment with your opinion if you want.  Sooner or later my message will get through.

Debt Relief is not a dirty word.

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16 Responses to “Personal Responsibility and Debt Relief Are Not Dirty Words”

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  1. You GO, Travis. I am continually amazed at the negative comments I read on sites like the BI site and the Yahoo Finance site. There seems to be an insane amount of jealousy and/or hatred out there towards those, like you and Vonnie, who stand up, take responsibility for their financial mess, and choose to behave like grownups where their money is concerned. “Talk to the hand”, I’d tell them. If they can sleep at night after blowing off the debt THEY accumulated when it is in their power, through discipline and responsibility, to pay it off, well, more power to them, I guess. As for us, we’d rather leave our debt behind knowing that WE paid it off, not the American taxpayer or the credit card companies who played no part in creating our mess. Has selfishness completely trumped the pride of a good reputation and living up to your word?

    • Travis says:

      Laurie, I think a lot of the negative comments on a big site like Yahoo Finance stems from people just finding an anonymous place to vent their anger at the world in general. A good friend of mine (Mr. Brad Chaffee – the original Enemy Of Debt!) said to me yesterday as we were discussing this post – personal responsibility seems to have been replaced with personal convenience.

      I don’t know where he comes up with this stuff, but man, is he right on.

  2. First off, congrats for getting picked up by both sites! Secondly, this just shows me again how ridiculous some of the comments are on sites like Yahoo Finance. I love using the site, but many of the comments are just over the top. I know I had people tell me I should just walk away from my debt that I created, but that would be taking the easy way out. I was the one who created the issue by spending like crazy, so why should I not pay back for what I did? Also, I think debt relief gets a bad name because of the bad apples that are shady. I went with a DMP personally and it was great and would recommend it to anyone else in a similar situation. Keep up the great work Travis!

    • Travis says:

      Thanks, John! I know we’ve exchanged comments in the past, so I remember you went with a DMP as well. I know what you’re trying to say, but I always hesitate to say bankruptcy is the “easy way out.” From what I’ve read there’s nothing fun or easy about the bankruptcy road. I think that a lot of people don’t understand that there are other options out there besides bankruptcy – and many people are pushed down the wrong path simply because they don’t understand all the tools that are available to them. Thanks for the words of encouragement!

  3. You are absolutely doing the right thing, and the DMP is the best way to go, imo. Congratulations on all fronts!

    • Travis says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, Kurt – much appreciated! I have to admit, that the first 6 months were riddled with doubt as to whether we made the right choice. While everyone’s situation is unique, as time has marched on, we have become 100% sure that we took the right path for us.

  4. Great points, Travis! Thanks for your insight.

  5. Mackenzie says:

    Haters gonna hate, unfortunately….

    I think people really have nothing better to do, then to skim a post/article, and then really write something negative about it. People have no problem pointing fingers, and turn a blind eye to their own issues.

    Love this post Travis and your response was right on the mark!

    • Travis says:

      It is easy to point fingers under anonymity when you don’t have to answer for your own mistakes. I had an exchange with a friend on Twitter the other day on this subject and I concluded that if I ever have this kind of opportunity again I’ll simply ignore the blatant troll comments and simply concentrate on the comments that come from my true target audience – which are the people struggling with debt and are looking for answers and options. As always, thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  6. You can read the comments on the big time articles, Travis, but PLEASE promise that you will not stop writing! It’s really great to cheer you on, and I love your honesty.

  7. A friend says:

    Dear Travis:

    Just read your article on Yahoo and then went to your blog and all I can say is Yay and good for you! My husband and I also are living the credit card free life and it amazes me how every time you go to the store they practically tie you down to try to get you to sign up for an in store card for 5 or 10% off!

    I find it amazing that so many people have no shame in building massive debt, enjoying the lifestyle it gave them and then just shirking it off. If you lived it, you should pay for it unless you are completely destitute and about to be homeless. I do have sympathy for folks who are at the very end of their rope, losing their home, etc. Then bankruptcy is their only option.

    But I am rather jaded by the myriad scammers that we have in this country who are bilking the hard working folks out of their “fair share”.

    Have a wonderful day

    • Travis says:

      Thanks for your support and encouragement, A friend! We recently decided to signup for a Costco membership, and guess what they offered – an American Express card. Granted, if used wisely a person could earn 3% cash back. Nope, no thank you – don’t trust myself. Thanks for taking the time to follow the link and come here to Enemy of Debt – Hope you’ll come back, read, and comment again!

  8. Personal responsibility…it’s nice to see that it still exists. :-) I think everyone should try their very hardest to pay back their debts before even looking at the bankruptcy option. It’s just the right thing to do. And reputable debt relief companies are also a very valid option for anyone trying to get back on the right track.

    • Travis says:

      AMEN, Crystal. I read a post on a different site recently that showed the difference between what a person with a certain debt level would have for retirement if they a.) declared bankruptcy and b.) paid off their debt. Obviously choice A would leave them in a better retirement position because they had thousands and thousands of dollars of debt discharged. I want to assert that I do believe that there is a place for bankruptcy (when someone is completely insolvent – ie, has no means to pay their debt) – BUT not paying your debt because it’s hard, or because you won’t have as much for your retirement account is NOT a reason for bankruptcy.

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