What If We Didn’t Jump into Debt As Soon As We Started Adulthood
What if we didn’t jump into debt as soon as we started adulthood? Suppose we turned 18, graduated high school, and only grew our bank account from there?
A life where we didn’t jump into debt
What if we went to community college instead of moving straight into a dorm room? And used money we saved from our part-time job working at a hot dog joint during high school to pay for the first couple semesters. Suppose we got a job at a video rental store to pay for the rest of the semesters in cash. Can you imagine if we also put a little extra away in the bank to start building up our savings account?
After graduating community college, what would happen if we worked three jobs to pay for our two remaining years at the university? And we continued putting a little extra into our savings and even started investing $100 a month?
What if we graduated college with a bachelor’s degree and didn’t have tens of thousands of dollars in debt? Have you ever thought about the idea of having a bachelor’s degree at 22 years old with $15,000 in the bank and $2,000 in investment accounts?
What if we didn’t sign our name to a car loan only moments after graduating college? If we didn’t have a $300 or more car payment when we were first starting to find our footing in the world?
What if we drove a 2001 Chevy Impala for a couple years longer and put that $300 a month towards investments instead?
I’m sitting here at 25 years old, a stay-at-home mom of three children, reflecting on all the decisions I’ve made the past seven years. I worked at a hot dog joint in high school. I worked at a video rental store for a little bit, too. My husband drove a 2001 Chevy Malibu in college.
However, the difference in our stories is that my husband and I left college with almost $30,000 total in debt and only pennies in the bank. I had the most in student loans, and I didn’t even get a degree. After getting married, we took out more student loans, got two car loans, maxed out our credit card, and got a mortgage. We allowed ourselves to get deep in debt because that is normal for young adults.
We knew what we were signing up for. What we didn’t realize was how much the debt would inhibit our life choices.
My husband and I decided to get married and start a family before I graduated college. I don’t think there is anything wrong with getting married or starting a family young. However, certain life choices make it harder to dig yourself out of your hole. And debt has held us back from living more abundantly in these early years of marriage and parenthood.
Debt is normal
I don’t regret most of my decisions because I was in the dark about a lot of things. In high school, I learned that student loans were the norm. You only went to college without debt if your parents were extremely wealthy. If you wanted to go to college (which I felt expected to do), then you could no matter how poor you were. Just sign up for the student loans.
Another reason I jumped into debt so easily was that I believed the lie that I can afford anything I want. That’s how I ended up with credit card debt and car loans. Everyone else has it, so I should be able to have it, too, right?
Now, I have many beautiful blessings in my life. But in this post, I just want to share how heavy my heart feels about our debt situation and the situation that many people face. I want to shed light on the possibilities that are attainable if you make small financial decisions that increase your net worth, rather than large decisions that decrease it.
At 25 years old, I am hoping we hit a zero net worth by the time I’m 28. Then, we will work on growing it. That’s TEN YEARS I lost on growing my wealth because I was busy fixing all the financial mistakes I made at the start of adulthood. If that doesn’t make you mad, I don’t know what will.
How about we start doing everything we can to encourage young adults to avoid debt at all costs. How about we create a world where debt is abnormal and weird, instead of building a society that supports it? It makes me mad to hear adults still promote debt as a way to obtain things you want even after experiencing its damaging effects.
Lastly, I want to share the math with you on the investments I mentioned in this post. Assuming you invested $100 a month for two years from ages 18-20 and then invested $300 a month from ages 20 to 65, you would have approximately $3,321,459 at a 10% rate of return at retirement.
Did you read that? Three. Million. Dollars. Listen, that’s not only a comfortable retirement. That’s a family legacy that you are passing on down to your kids. That’s living with such abundance, that you get to financially bless so many people.
I am the first to tell you that money isn’t the most important thing. Living frugally has its benefits, and having a low income isn’t a sin. I’m not saying you need to make retiring with millions of dollars your goal. All I’m saying is stop letting kids get themselves into debt. Please model healthy financial habits for your children. Equip them with work ethic and financial education. Teach them to save some of their money and be wise financial stewards. I, for one, will be doing everything I can to keep my kids from experiencing the curse of debt bondage and instead give them the gift of financial freedom.