Halloween might be one of the spookiest days of the year, but there’s something worse lurking around you all year long—debt from purchases past.
As you’re debating the endless options of candy you could hand out this year or what costume will be the most exciting, you might be wondering how you’re going to afford all your holiday must-haves. With debt hanging over your head, you’re probably realizing all you can afford to do this year is to stay in and binge watch Halloweentown reruns. But don’t fret… You’re not alone.
According to an NBC News/GenForward survey from this year, a quarter of millennials — those 18 to 34 years old — are over $30,000 in debt. And whether it be student loans, credit card debt, a mortgage, or a home loan, debt can hold you back from both big and small life decisions. With that in mind, it’s not a surprise that your debt is spookier than the latest Paranormal Activity movie.
So in the spirit of Halloween, we asked people to recall some of their spookiest debt stories that might actually help you. Get ready for a dose of #RealMoneyTalk in hopes that these spine-chilling ghost stories will save you from conjuring up your own debt nightmares.
My Scary Ex-Ghoulfriend
“My ex-girlfriend and I had been together for 6 months when she started to open up to me about some of her financial troubles. She had been in-between jobs and was struggling to pay her rent, so I offered to loan her some money to help her get by. I ended up giving her access to my debit card and PIN number to allow her to withdraw some cash to cover the rest of her month’s rent. However, it wasn’t until a month later that I realized that she had been over-drafting my bank account, leaving me in over $3,000 in debt. I learned this lesson the hard way: NEVER share your personal bank information, even with your girlfriend or closest friends. If you’re going to loan someone money, do it in physical cash or Venmo, and keep your finances safe and sound!” —Evan C.
Student Loan Twilight Zone
“My student loans have been haunting me longer than my marriage, and to be honest they’re worse than an ex that won’t leave! While my husband and I both make good money, my student loans prohibit us from living the lifestyle we both want, and it impacts all of our financial decisions. Last year, we paid over $15,000 in interest alone! We can’t afford to go on vacations, buy new clothes, or even open a retirement account because most of our money just goes to paying off the loans. Both my husband and I are prisoners of my debt, and if I could do it all over again, I wish I would’ve learned more about my financial aid program. The one silver lining is that this year, we started refinancing my loans, which has allowed me to combine my existing federal and private student loans into a new, single student loan with a lower interest rate. While it will take a bit of time for us to save up for a trip to Cabo, it’s at least a step in the right direction. ” —Ashley T.
Real Estate Purgatory
“When I bought my first home, I was 24. I was on top of the world, feeling invincible, and totally oblivious to the whole mortgage process. I couldn’t even tell you the definition of a mortgage. I simply signed on the dotted line and thought I had mastered adulting. My naive self thought I had selected a loan with a fixed rate until I got a very large bill that informed me I selected an adjustable rate mortgage instead! In the past 5 years, the mortgage increased like crazy, and even though I make good money, I struggled to cover all my payments. My mortgage broker could have outlined the pros and cons of a fixed versus adjustable rate, but she definitely took advantage of how young I was at the time. Looking back, I should have educated myself on the whole process because now I’m dealing with the fallout of assuming another person had my best interests in mind. ” —Brandon S.
Cobweb of Credit Card Debt
“When I was 19, I signed up for my first credit card. I thought *cha-ching* I can finally afford that new fall wardrobe I had been eyeing. I had a part-time job, so I figured it would be okay to start building my credit and cover my bills at the end of each month. (What like adulting is hard?) But with all the hustle and bustle of college life, I would forget to pay my bill sometimes (okay a lot of times) and was only reminded by the large late fee alerts. $600 in late fees, one cute fall wardrobe, and a significantly lower credit score later, I realized — if you’re going to sign up for a credit card, make sure you always pay your bill on time!!” —Ellen G.
Now that’s some #RealMoneyTalk on debt. Lesson learned: you aren’t alone in your debt! In fact, more millennials are struggling with debt than not. Use #RealMoneyTalk to share your own debt doomsday story using #RealMoneyTalk or learn from other people’s past mistakes.