Something exciting recently happened – I shared my journey to debt freedom on The Penny Hoarder (the most popular personal finance website on the internet). Sharing my story on PH was a dream come true, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled that they accepted my post.
And then came the not-so-exciting part.
Many people were inspired by my story and shared it on social media, but I also received some negative feedback. I knew this would happen – it’s inevitable when you share personal details about your life on a website that gets millions of page views. People also love to rip on millennials (we’re so lazy and entitled!), so it wasn’t at all surprising.
But the comments got me thinking about the many misconceptions that surround the recent trend of young adults moving back in with their parents.
The basic gist of the negative comments was: “This is a useless article because most millennials don’t have the option of living with their parents. You’re not paying off debt by working hard; you’re paying off your debt quickly because you hardly have any bills. This is insulting to people who are truly struggling.”
After reading this, it occurred to me that there might be people who read my blog and feel the same way but simply don’t voice those feelings. They may think “well, I could pay off my debt quickly if I could live with my parents, but I don’t have that option.”
If you have ever felt discouraged or frustrated when reading my blog, I’m sorry. That is not my intention. My hope for this blog is to inspire others to live cheerfully on less and to pay off their debt as quickly as they can.
You might not have the option of living with your parents. Maybe you have the option, but you choose not to. That’s cool. It’s not for everyone. Your path doesn’t need to look exactly like mine.
When I offer tips for saving money, you can take what works for you and ignore what doesn’t. I am a big believer that what is right for one person is not necessarily right for another.
Personal Finance is About Choices
If you feel frustrated when you read my posts about how my husband and I are paying off $117,000 of student loan debt in three years, you’re missing the point. I don’t expect everyone to do what I’m doing, and that’s not why I share my story.
I share it to inspire others to pay off their debt as quickly as they possibly can – they may not be able to pay off their debt in three years like we’re doing, but maybe they could pay their debt off in 5 years, or 8, or 10. Maybe it’ll take longer than that. You know your unique situation better than I do.
Here’s the point – my husband and I don’t have to pay our loans off in three years. We could instead extend our student loan payments over 25 years (which would reduce our monthly payments a lot), purchase a nice house, start a family, buy brand-new cars, go on fancy vacations, rack up a bunch of credit card debt, and live the consumerist “American Dream.” For me, this would be the most tempting option.
Instead, we decided to live with my parents, practice extreme frugality, and hustle so that we can pay off our massive debt in only three years. These are sacrifices, and this was not an “easy” choice.
Living with Family is NOT Easy
We are well aware that our crazy goal of paying off $117,000 of student loan debt in three years (on entry-level salaries) is only possible because we live with my parents. We are incredibly grateful to them for this – allowing us to live with them for three years was an unbelievably selfless decision on their part.
That being said, the five of us (my brother also lives here) live together in a small, crowded house and it’s not easy for any of us.
Making the decision to live in your parents’ basement requires humility. When you decide to live with parents, you give up much of your independence, freedom, privacy, and personal space. It’s humbling to have to follow someone else’s rules when you’re nearly 30 years old.
The biggest challenge of living with my family is something I choose not to go into detail about on this blog. To protect the privacy of the health of my family members, I won’t give specifics. Let’s just say this – it is impossible to know every detail of someone’s situation, and there is a lot that I choose not to share about my living situation.
Deciding to live with my family was not an easy choice to make, and it’s frustrating when people who know very little about our situation assume that living with family is “taking the easy way out”.
Let’s Stop Comparing
It is impossible to know every detail of someone’s story. It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others, but this only leads to jealousy and frustration. Let’s stop comparing and making assumptions.
Instead, let’s acknowledge that we all have our own unique journey. You don’t have to do what I do. Do what works for you.
What’s right for one person isn’t necessarily right for another.