Guest Post: How Do You Talk About Debt Repayment?

The following guest post was written by Millennial on a Budget. “I’m a 20-something trying to figure out how to build a life that’s rich in more ways than just financial. I want to have a budget, save for the future, but also live today. Join me as I figure out what this balance looks like!”. Go check out her blog! This post was in reaction to her reading my post on keeping up with the Joneses:
We all have the Joneses in our lives, and frankly, there are some of them that we, as PF bloggers and aficionados, have a really hard time with. 

You know the ones. 

Mountains of college debt, with some European travel debt, a great wardrobe full of trendy (and expensive) pieces and you better believe they drive a WAY more awesome car than you (probably leased). 

The ones you just want to shake some sense into? 

But the ones that sometimes make you feel like you’re doing something wrong by not keeping up? 

How do you talk with them about debt repayment? How open are you? And how do you keep it from being or coming across as judgmental? 

For me, walking on this path is about ME! I knew when I started that there would be some friends and some people who would be really hard to deal with. Especially the ones who go out to lunch every single day. And then go to the mall after work. There would be some jealousy on my part that I couldn’t do that any more. 

But then there’s this little part of your mind that hopes that by telling them what you’re doing and why you’re focusing on debt will turn the lightbulb on for them. Because let’s be totally honest – sometimes, this path would be so much easier to walk if the Joneses you were keeping up with were also actively trying to be out of debt and maximize their debt repayments every month. 

With the Joneses that are somewhat close in my life, I’ve talked with them about why I can’t keep up anymore. When I decline their invitations, it’s not about not wanting to hang out with them. It’s about wanting to put my finances first. Many times, I let it be a conversation about values – I value them, I value hanging out, but I’m no longer valuing doing expensive things. 

There’s frequently a “why?” aspect, and I’ve tried to be as transparent as possible with people. I let them know that I got into a bad place with my debt, and that it made me anxious. I didn’t feel like I could keep living the indebted life. So I made a change, and every day I’m choosing to stick with those changes. 

Sometimes people understand and are interested. Some have even joined me or been extremely open to doing cheaper things. 

And some keep living their outsized, heavily indebted lives. Now when I look at them, I remember that until I had that lightbulb moment of deciding things had to change, I WAS them. So I don’t judge, and I don’t preach. I just live my life and am transparent about the changes I’m making. 

They’ll wake up one day and be done with that life. And they’ll know just who to come to when they want to talk. 

What about you? How do you handle or talk to the “Joneses” in your life?


5 thoughts on “Guest Post: How Do You Talk About Debt Repayment?

  1. I try not to judge as well, and keep in mind that while I wasn’t ever much of a Jones, I’ve definitely had Jones-moments (most recently involving a pair of shoes…).
    As for handling/talking, I always try to be firm but polite. I try to make my position clear – I’d love to hang out with people, but I’ve got a budget that I need to stick to. So I’ll go out with the gang to the pub, but I’ll stick with water -or only one drink. I try to make it more about the facts than the feelings, and I’ve found most people my age are pretty understanding. 🙂

  2. Great post! I have a really good friend who has always wanted to “keep up with the Joneses” but she has definitely gotten better about it in the last few months. She knows that I am trying hard to get out of debt and she doesnt try to persuade me into anything I cant afford. One perk is that if she wants to order food while I’m at her house she will pay for it because she knows whats going on with my money. And I go over there for dinner a lot (mostly because the girl can cook!) just so I have less meals to make at home.

  3. I try not to judge that much, because that is what makes some people happy as we all have different goals and aspirations in life. I just try to remind myself that I have my own goals in mind that does not include leasing an expensive car or taking out more debt!

    The ones that I’m a little jealous of are my co-workers that did not acquire a lot of student loan debt in the first place and were able to start saving more right off the bat when starting their first full time jobs.

  4. This is a great post and an awesome perspective! I haven’t been very open, even with the people I’m close too, out of fear of judgement. But, if they are truly my friends they’d understand. Thanks for the reminder, I think I’ll approach this topic when the time arises for my next visit with my BFF (as she and her hubby are my biggest Joneses).

  5. I think I have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) lol. I can make do without the material things. Its hard for me to say NO to any invites right now, but I am definitely trying to budget any activities that I get involved in or pick and choose which ones to attend.

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