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You Can’t Pay Off Debt With Excuses

excuses people use to not pay off debtIf you have a blog, does it seem that all big things seem to happen when you’re out of town? I feel like that happens to me anyway. While I was in Kentucky last week visiting family, an interview I did with Business Insider got picked up by Yahoo Finance and traffic was off the charts.  The interview was about paying off our credit card debt, and I knew there was potential for some blow back, but you really can’t turn down that sort of exposure if you are trying to grow an online business, so I accepted the invitation without hesitation. After the interview, I wondered if this might be my first real opportunity to meet some of the trolls that many of my online friends have already encountered, and boy was I ever introduced last week. You can read the comments here if you’d like, but the majority were not kind. Why on earth would anyone hate me for paying off debt? Hating me gives people a great reason not to pay off their own debts. You can’t ever pay off debt with excuses.

I Take Full Responsibility For My Debts

Many of the comments were along the lines of “these people were stupid for getting into debt in the first place” or “they should have known better.” Yes, I agree 100% with all those opinions. I have always said how dumb it was to rack up over $30,000 in credit card debt, and I don’t blame the credit card companies, banks, my parents, former employers, advertisers, Alec Baldwin, or anyone else besides Jim and myself. We lived above our means and we paid the price. No one put a gun to our heads and made us use credit cards to pay for things we didn’t have money to buy.

It Is Easier To Get Our Of Debt If You Make More Money

Internet trolls love to pick apart anyone who has paid off debt or saved lots of money if they didn’t grow up living in a cardboard box and ever made more than minimum wage while supporting 5 kids as a single parent. The people commenting loved to speculate about how much money we make. They assume because I am an optometrist that we must make over $200,000 a year and we can pay off debt with no problem.

While we never made that much money, I would say that we have a good income for where we live. In our area, we are at the top of the income bracket. If we lived in LA or Manhattan, we’d be middle class. Yes, it’s much easier if you have skills or training that allow you to make more money when trying to get out of debt.

I Won’t Apologize for Earning Money

I really did not get that upset over most of the comments. I was prepared because my friend, Holly, has written a great post on how to deal with online criticism. It does hurt when people take something positive you’ve done and skewer it, but that’s to be expected if you put yourself out there in the public. I accept that. More haters mean you’re doing something right in the online world.

What does bother me is how people seem to think I turned 18 and someone drew my name out of a hat and gave me an optometry license. To be where I am now, I worked my tail off to get scholarships to go to college. I took out loans for what those didn’t cover. I went to school for 8 years to get a degree in a field that offers a good salary, and I poured hundreds of thousands of hours into my business and into networking, going to things like chamber of commerce meetings and business after hours, and supporting local events to make my practice a success. If you do the same, you can have the same results.

To be successful and earn a high income, most people have to plan and work for years. That meant I didn’t get pregnant in high school. I didn’t party my way through college, and I didn’t half ass my way through 9-5 to get to happy hour after work. I’m not disparaging anyone for how they live life, but everything we do or don’t do is a choice, always. I won’t ever apologize for earning money. I worked too hard to let anyone make me feel bad about having a good income.

It’s Much Easier to Make Excuses Than Solve Problems

Obviously people reading my interview were interested in paying off debt. Instead of taking away things that might help, they see that I am not like them and immediately dismiss me. I have news, people. If you are looking for the perfect article titled “How John Smith who Lives in Kansas City with Three Kids and Works at Kroger Can Pay off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt ” you probably aren’t going to find it.

John Smith can call me trite and make the excuse that he doesn’t earn my salary. Therefore, he could never do what I did.

I hate being preachy, but until you quit the excuses and take responsibility, you can’t, you won’t, you never will. Instead, take whatever you can from me, from Dave Ramsay, from Suze Orman, from all of the amazing bloggers who have done extraordinary things and use that. Maybe you won’t ever make $100k a year, but does that mean you don’t have to try?

You can keep making excuses, but I would argue that they are really choices. I strongly believe no choice is ever too bad to overcome. It might take longer, and you might not do it my way, but you can pay off credit card debt if that’s what you want. If you live within your means and find ways to earn more money, I promise anyone can pay off debt, even if it takes a while. Once you change how you think about money and spending, you’ll stay out of debt.

I think I’m going to dedicate this whole week to stopping excuses. If you blog, I challenge you to do a post about that topic. Don’t use the excuse that I already wrote about it either! What is the worst excuse you think people use for why they can’t pay off debt? 

 

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net/Miles

 

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.

71 comments

  1. You are SO right about people (trolls) being hard on people who have good jobs in relation to debt. I have friends who sometimes scoff at us. Yes we have some of the highest incomes of pur friends but we both have higher education and work our butts off-by all means feel free to do the same! Congrats on getting high traffic ratings!

    • That’s what I mean. If you want my salary, go to school for 8 years and network you butt off. If you don’t want to do that, then be happy with what you have or find another source of income. From my almost 2 years online, I know there are tons of ways to do that.

  2. Taking the full responsibility with your debt is the best thing to do. And finding a sideline income would be a big help for you to have a debt free life.

  3. I think Yahoo comments are particularly bad. With yours what struck me were all the comments on your income, but with none of them mentioning that you took on extra hours for more pay or that Jim went back to school for more pay as well. You guys definitely sacrificed a lot of free time to do those things!

    • Yes, we could have still paid off our debt eventually without taking on more work, but it would have taken years and I am not that patient when I make up my mind. I had hoped the take home point of the interview would have been to make more money if you are in a debt situation, but apparently “normal” people with “average” income can’t do that.

  4. Wow! I haven’t read the article/interview or the comments yet – I’m heading there next – but you’re dead-on with your analysis of the excuses. You’ve worked hard, done well, and done an impressive thing in paying off so much debt. Good for you!

    • I don’t know whether our ability to buckle down and pay off debt is any more impressive than our stupidity getting into debt in the first place, but thanks all the same!

  5. Hey now that you have some trolls that means you’ve “made it” in the world of blogging, right??! So congrats on having made it! Aside from that, I agree with you 100%. It’s sad that others should disparage someone for earning more money than them. You worked your buns off for years and years to get where you are- they could do the same if they were so driven!

    • I know lots of medical professionals, and 99% of them are doing great. If you want a good income, go into medicine, dental, optometry, pharmacy, etc. You have to do really well in school and go to school for a long time, but if you can do that, it does pay off. It’s not magic.

  6. What? You don’t get an optometry degree out of a hat?
    Just kidding! You’ve done awesome!

  7. It never ceases to amaze me the comments most of the trolls make, especially on sites like Yahoo Finance. I mean, really, are they that miserable with life that they just want to tear people down? 😉 That said, it’s much easier to make excuses than it is to buckle down and work your butt off to do something like pay off debt.

    • It is way easier to convince yourself that you are doing OK and better than most people. It’s easy to find a reason why you can’t. I know I did it for years.

  8. LOVE that you brought up the fact that you guy make the money you make b/c you worked your arses off and went to college and formed careers. It amazes me that people think that if they don’t make X amount of money, they are off the hook from financial responsibility. Just get to work and get things done, instead of spending SO much time whining about how everyone else has it so much easier, people!

    • I think I said those exact same words myself when I read the comments. I think it’s fine to go right to work without learning skills or getting an education if that works for you, but you have to know you probably aren’t going to be making a 6 figure income that way. The good thing is that anyone can retire comfortably if they live within their means and save. You can’t have all the “stuff” society says you need on a low salary and expect never to have debt or retirement money.

  9. Ha! I have never had the trolls attack, but I am sure I will at some point. I just don’t have sympathy for people who make excuses, though. I work with clients of all shapes and sizes and they are all doing amazing. But it’s because I act like a trainer and I don’t care what excuses they have, I just care about them making their goals, and some need more pushing then others, but everyone can do it. You just need hard work and commitment and unfortunately those are two things that trolls lack.

    • I think it’s hilarious that one commenter Googled optometrists to see how much I should be making. Dude, take care of yourself and quit focusing on me!

  10. Trolls? You’re so famous :).
    It frustrates me when people expect a debt repayment story to fit their exact situation. I read an article a few weeks ago that had great tips for how to get out of debt no matter what your income, but because it listed the author’s income and debt schedule, the trolls just ripped him apart.
    I think trolls expect debt repayment to be easier, especially when you have a larger income. With a higher income, there are more opportunities to spend. Cell phone, car, apartment, go on a vacation, buy a new home, fill it with fancy things! That all costs money. To pay back debt, no matter your income, we need to cut back.

    • I agree. The same principles apply whether you make minimum wage or over a million a year. I think it’s much harder to get an emergency fund built up if you are poor. I was looking at a newspaper article this weekend about how much it costs to be poor, meaning higher interest rates, having to have rent deposits, and pay court costs and such. I do sympathize, but if you don’t want to pay court costs, don’t break the law!

  11. Hey, don’t apologize for preaching. People need to hear this straight up and direct.

    And as for the trolls…I once heard someone say that if you are taking flack then you must be flying right over the target. Keep up the great work!

    • I think you should get an interview about paying off your house. I can’t think of any negative thing to say about that, but I’m sure the trolls would come up with something.

  12. People are so jaded and quick to dismiss the success of others. I guess they also missed the part about you adding on another day of work to your schedule! I think people often fall into the mindset that they don’t make enough to pay off their debt. I know my parents were a bit plagued by this. Their overall debt seemed so overwhelming, and they didn’t think they would be able to break out of the cycle. It’s much easier to focus on one at a time and take small steps.

    • It’s much easier to focus on one at a time. I think the article was fine, but obviously didn’t tell the whole story. Our first credit debt we paid off was something like $800, and we celebrated that and each milestone. Otherwise seeing $800 down with over $29,000 to go would make anyone want to quit.

  13. Yeah, I had the exact same scenario – Business Insider interview, picked up by Yahoo, trolls come running. I expected the “how did you ever get in that kind of debt” and “you were stupid for racking up debt” comments, but what I wasn’t prepared for were the droves of people that said I was stupid for taking responsibility and paying off my debt. Apparently, many people thought I should have declared bankruptcy, saddled my creditors with the remainder of my debt and just started fresh. Imagine that…..negative comments for taking responsibility for my actions. Weird.

    • I think you just can’t win. People will pick you apart whatever you choose if it’s against the mainstream way of thinking, especially about debt or money. I tend to read as much as I can and think maybe that’s not my way, but good for whoever for thinking outside the box. I guess it’s too scary to think that maybe you do need to change and it’s not OK to live way outside your means.

  14. I haven’t yet experienced trolls but I haven’t been on a big site yet, which seems to be where they hang out. I don’t have a ton of patience for excuses either. We are the product of our choices, good and bad. Like you said, you own the fact that you lived beyond your means and you were also the one who wised up and did something about it. Getting into debt is the easy part, getting out is hard and there is no magic pill or wand. Just lots of hard work and some hard sacrifices, which people don’t like to hear. And don’t forget that you had lots of trolls make rude comments but at the same time there were lots of people who read the post and took your message to heart. They simply choose not to say anything. It’s easy to forget that when the haters come out. But I imagine for ever hater there were a lot more people you helped.

    • Yes, it does seem that people tend to leave way more negative comments than positive on most major sites. Maybe the positive people get right to work and don’t have time.

  15. Unfortunately it seems the trolls like to judge anything that is not their norm! Congrats to you on paying off debt and being successful in the career that allows you to pay off that debt!!! 🙂

  16. The politics of envy is alive and well in the U.S. and is unfortunately something that is promoted by our current administration with its’ talk of income re-distribution. I have a cousin who’s husband, every time something is said about what someone else has, always says “Well, you know they have money.” Of course these are people who have a daughter that does horse shows and have several show horses. Now I don’t know how much it costs to keep a horse but I’m pretty sure it isn’t cheap. I also knew a woman who, when I retired, complained that she would never afford to retire (even though she made more money than me) yet she was the one with the pool in her back yard and a time share vacation plan. There will always be those who are Debbie Downers. I choose to pay they no attention.

    • That’s a great choice you are making. With all those examples, I would certainly argue that people are making choices. I choose not to have a horse or a pool because those don’t add value to my life and I’d rather put that money into investments. It’s fine to choose whatever you want, just don’t complain about not having something else if you put you money into a horse or pool.

  17. Hey Kim, I couldn’t agree more and I love your plan for the week. I write often for USNews and that always gets picked up by Yahoo!, as a result, I have a lot of fun reading the comments by the internet trolls! Thanks for the great read.

  18. I’ve heard so many excuses for why people can’t pay off their debt. It is truly sad. I think some excuses are reasonable (such as medical debt), but that doesn’t meant that you just give up!

    • Agreed. Even of you have to file for bankruptcy, you can start over and make sure you don’t get into that same boat again.

  19. Many people just don’t want to put in the work that it takes to get out of debt. They would rather waste time by making excuses when it’s really very simple. You Have To Do The Work!

    • I’ve always thought that way, and I’d never cut anyone down for trying to get ahead, but I guess that’s the minority opinion outside of the PF wall anyway.

  20. Kim no matter WHAT someone’s situation when they are paying off debt, people will find a way to tear them down…either with how they got into debt, or how they are going about paying it off, etc. People love to sit behind their desks and criticize other people. You are brave for taking the risk in order to try and help people who may be struggling with debt, so bravo to you!! Im a big puss and would probably whimper in a corner if people were super mean to me. 🙂 Or get angry. Every person no matter what their background or financial situation has made mistakes…its what you do to get out of it, again no matter what your situation, that counts.

    • Luckily, I grew a thick skin a long time ago. I hate mean people, but unfortunately, they are part of life. I doubt you’d whimper in the corner, but I can see you get mean!

  21. There is a huge entitlement mentality out there. I see it all the time with tenants who apply to my units, and I reject them. Everyone always has it better than them, and that’s the reason they are so down trodden. No one looks in the mirror to find their problems.

    • Where did that mentality come from? My parents always taught me never to expect that I was owed anything I didn’t earn. I’m not sure how so many people have gotten off track.

  22. I’m sorry about the trolls, Kim : / I do think that making more money can really help with paying down debt, building savings, etc. but I definitely know that it takes a lot of work to get to a point where you CAN make money. A lot of work! I have a friend who also is an optometrist and he definitely doesn’t make 200k a year. He also had to do the extra schooling and sacrifice to get to where he is.

    I will have to take you up on your “no excuse” challenge. I’m always looking for more topics so that helps!

    • DC, you could be in the dictionary under No Excuses. Your effort and ideas give me hope for the 20 something generation!

  23. Debt and the Girl

    It must have been hard to get your license in optometry. My cousins’s husband has his license in optometry and he said it took several years to achieve and his student loans bills are in the six figures. He makes a good income but he will be in debt for a long time. Sometimes people only see the money and assume everything is great when there is always more to the story.

    • Many of the people I graduated with had 6 figures in loans. I know some medical school grades who are over a quarter million dollars. Yes, you have a high salary, but expenses that get you that degree have to be figured in.

  24. They attacked you like a lion would fresh meat, I thought there might be a couple people here and there, but it was 80/20 the other way. I always like to hear a success story, so paying off 30K or 300K, I always like the motivation it gives me. Some people only have a half empty glass, they apparently want someone else to fill it with water.

    Congrats on the yahoo article!

  25. I read those comments when the post went up. I have found these people just have nothing better to do than to troll internet articles. While we are out making money and changing our lives, they are being bitter about people actually doing something.

    • I’ll never understand the negative attitudes that dominate many people. It does take much more energy to frown than smile.

  26. Yahoo commenters are the worst. I’m sure at some point they also started to criticize the president and it devolved into a political discussion even though it had nothing to do with the article. In any case, people like to make excuses because they’re probably still stuck in debt and need a reason to justify the position they’re in when others have attained debt freedom.

  27. MomofTwoPreciousGirls

    The most irritating comment someone made is “most people aren’t that lucky”. Seriously? Did you FEEL lucky during all that studying?

    We went through hell financially. These past two years we have turned things around. We did it by changing our habits. We took a hard look at what our budget busters were and made changes, budgeted and switched to cash. I was actually surprised at what our income for the year was when we did our taxes. I had been looking at monthly numbers and hadn’t really calculated out for the year. I feel like the positive changes we made have brought positive opportunities our way. I don’t feel like that is lucky… I feel like it’s our decisions have gotten better!

    • I think I am lucky in many ways, but my career was a result of hard work. Congratulations for changing your situation. I think we make our own luck on many, many issues.

  28. Trolls like to tear others down in order to lift themselves up and make themselves feel worthy, because it’s easier than the hard work, commitment and dedication it otherwise takes to achieve true worth.

  29. Hi Kim,

    I wrote a blog post on this one, hope you like it!

  30. You are my new hero! I actually feel like I have to defend my ability to pay off debt and sort of did a little diatribe on that in my post yesterday. I can just imagine what trolls would do to me if they found me! We paid off $60K of debt each year for the last two years, with a plan to go at this rate for 5 more years! The fact that we had almost $400K in debt, I take full responsibility for. Sure we were living beyond our means, but we weren’t going crazy. Just normal family stuff, some travel, university for 3 out of 4 kids, the “I deserve” mentality, spending to relieve stress, workaholic tendencies – work hard, play hard and voila… open your eyes and you’ve got more debt than you even deemed fathomable. So I’m paying between $3500 and $5500 per month to get this debt gone and it’s tough, but we’re doing it, me with a good salary and my husband with a low salary. Bottom line is it’s all relative. I imagine those trolls are the same ones that comment on the People magazine articles about how trashy or ugly certain celebrities are. Nothing better to do but put down others. Really!

    • I imagine that, like me, you think every month about where that money could be going other than to debt. It’s a real eye opener. Congrats on getting on the straight and narrow. It really doesn’t matter how much money you make if you are spending more than you earn.

  31. I completely agree with you, one must take the responsibility of his/her debt. I was very reluctant earlier to pay off my debt, but I realized by debt excuses I am making my life more difficult. After that I took full responsibility of debt and till now I have paid around 60 percent of debt which feels great .

  32. At the end of the day, all of the haters are that way because they are jealous you have the resolve to actually see your goal through and pay off debt. As you’ve pointed out, they come up with any excuse they can (i.e. you “make” $200K a year) to prove their point as to why they can’t pay off debt either. But when you actually stop blaming others and being jealous and get down to work, you can get out of debt, regardless of how much you make.

  33. Kim,
    I ignored the trolls’ comments and so should you. You’ve done a great job with the blog and there’s a ton of good advice here.

    Debt is a tricky subject and too often misunderstood. It can be a great tool if properly used but there’s also nothing wrong with paying it off completely and avoiding the whole situation if you don’t know how to manage debt. A hammer can help build a house but I would end up smashing my fingers to bits, so I don’t use hammers. Same thing.

    Keep up the good work,
    Joseph Hogue

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