An Open Hate Letter to Consumer Debt

Succubus
Dear Consumer Debt,

Let the record show, on this thirty-first day of December 2014, in the year of our Lord, that you, Consumer Debt (a.k.a. personal credit card debt), have been irrefutably, legally, and legitimately paid off. As of a few hours ago, I owe you nothing, zilch, nada, absolute zero.

I have capitalized your name as a proper noun because personifying you helps stir the needed painful emotions to prevent me from ever inviting you into my life again. You’re an unwanted, filthy, and immoral house guest that has overstayed her welcome.

You’d think by addressing you formally in an open letter I would use a colon after the salutation, but you see this isn’t business; it’s personal.

After four years of monthly payments this last go around, and five years the time before, your insatiable blood-lust has been sucked from this human for the last time. You won’t be getting anymore monies from me.

I’m not a hateful person. I’ve never had a problem with rage, hate, or anger. However, after two stints of what I can only compare to paying almost a decade’s worth of alimony to a cheating harlot, I can honestly say I hate you, and I hope I never see you again.

Over four years, what did you temporarily take from me?

  • Willingness to spend money traveling out of the country
  • Some of my self-respect & identity for being a rational/logical/smart person
  • Confidence in applying for or taking on a condo or home mortgage
  • Flexibility in entertaining job opportunities potentially more fulfilling that paid less
  • Ability to pay more on my student loans, which is considered “investment debt”

You stole half of my 20s and a 1/3rd of my 30s. You’re a succubus, a lecherous whore, that creeps in and seduces in the night ever so slowly until one day your victim is emotionally overwhelmed by a state of learned helplessness, or worse, detached/disassociated apathy. You’re an addiction where the victim toggles from deprivation (frugality) to unaccounted for spending.

You’re a home wrecker. You break up marriages and cause people to end their own lives. Honest, hardworking people blame themselves in retrospect for letting you in at the point when you get “out of control” (relative). However, it takes two to tango. You didn’t play fair, and you never intended to, because your game is rigged.

You know my life. After working very hard in school, getting good grades, and having several “character-building” jobs, in 2006 I found myself with what I consider my first relevant career-building position.

In 2008, in the beginning of the third year at my first real job, I convinced my employer to give me a 32% raise. I then found myself and with a good amount of disposable income. I didn’t realize at the time that I was earning more than some do after a steady five to seven years in their career.

Over the next two years, I did as many Americans do and lived above my means. I was told it was “good to have and use credit,” along with lots of other consumerist propaganda.

I was laid off in 2009, and took a job that paid 16% less. After six months at that job, in 2010 I took a job that was an 83% increase in salary, and a 29% net increase from the one in-which I was laid off.

With this new prosperous opportunity, I found it odd that I was still late on my rent, wasn’t saving, and living paycheck to paycheck. This was Parkinson’s Law, and then some.

Freedom is one of my core values, and after linking the fact that you, Consumer Debt, rob us of our freedom, I got angry. This is why I am writing this harshly-worded hate letter to you now; so I never forget what you did to me.

In 2010, instead of being angry at myself for a second time, I decided to learn my way through the problem by consuming tons of personal finance books and acting within what I could control.

Four years ago, I severed the relationships with the slave masters that manage and disperse your growth. I mustered the long-term willpower to make a plan to pay your ransom. On that day, I swore to myself and my future family that I would never make the mistake of owing you again. With no help from you, tomorrow is the first day of a consumer debt-free life. Stay far away and don’t ever come back.

Worst wishes to you,

Neil