When I was in debt, I wasn’t a lot of fun to be around. I’d like to think I’ve always been a good friend, but the debt definitely impacted my emotions and tainted my outlook on life. Let’s be honest, It’s hard to be happy when you’re suffocating under a $30k “debt blanket”.
Now that all of my student loans are paid in full I often think to myself, “Why did anybody want to be my friend when I was in debt?”
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I was moping around the house with my head down, wearing dark glasses and listening to Eleanor Rigby on auto replay. But I did become infinitely more positive when the debt was finally gone. My friends would never call me “bubbly” or “cheerful” that’s just not who I am. But I am a lot more fun to be around and considerably more grateful for all the good things I have in my life (my family, my friends, my boyfriend, my health, my pets etc. etc.) now that I can see those without my “debt perception”.
Curious what I mean? Friends with debt are no fun because…
- They never go out to dinner. When everybody else is making plans to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, they opt out because they’re trying to pay down their debt.
- They give lame birthday gifts. Or maybe they don’t give gifts at all? When I was still in debt I bought less expensive gifts and/or made homemade gifts. Were they “lame?” I hope nobody thought so.
- They’re always talking about their debt. Losing debt is sort of like losing weight. When you’re in the middle of paying off debt it’s hard not to think about it all of the time. I’m sure my friends and family were totally sick of hearing me talk about how much money I’d paid down over the course of the month.
- They never go to happy hour. While all of their friends are headed out to happy hour, they’re headed to the train station. Drinks are an expensive luxury that you don’t need when you’re in debt. Explaining this to friends can be difficult because they don’t understand why you can’t go out for, “just one drink.”
- They’re always at work. Friends want to hang out, but you can’t because you’re working the weekends. This is when people start telling you things like, “you only life once” and “it’s not that serious”. They’re wrong, it is “that serious” and once you’re out of debt (and they aren’t), they’ll probably realize they should have been at work too.
- They’re coupon crazed. OK, maybe this just applies to me. But when I was in debt I wouldn’t buy something unless I could get it at a deep discount, it was on sale, or I had a coupon. Everywhere I went was carefully planned. If I didn’t have a coupon, I didn’t go.
- They’re always reading personal finance blogs. They don’t know the latest news or the score of the game because they’re too busy reading personal finance blogs. Reading about other people’s success is addictive when you’re trying to get out of debt. I picked a few (OK a lot) of blogs written by people who’d paid down debt and focused on emulating their success. Taking advice from your broke friends is like taking diet advice from a sumo wrestler, just say no!
- They’re disgruntled because they can’t take a vacation. Guilty as charged! I wasn’t mad at my friends because they were taking a vacation. But I was often frustrated with myself when I couldn’t afford to take a yearly vacation somewhere warm and tropical when the snow started falling.
- They’re always worried about money. It takes them 45 minutes to pick out a pair of pants because they’re weighing the pros and cons of purchasing them, reading reviews online, and doing a cost comparison at 3 other stores on their phone. Every purchase big or small is a big decision when you’re in debt. This can be annoying to friends who aren’t in debt (or are and don’t care) i.e. “come on just buy them.”
- They have mean spirited comments about others who have money (or appear to have money). Thankfully, I don’t fit in this category, but I do know a few people who actively have disdain for peers who appear to be financially stable. There are always haters in life, but the haters don’t get ahead, so I kept my thinking positive.