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.