Sometimes, you come across a “feel good” story about debt, where someone manages to come out of a large debt almost unscathed and without filing bankruptcy. The unstated premise is often “If they can do it, so can you.” A recent Forbes article details such a case of how four sisters who where all in debt banded together and in two years managed to eliminate all of their existing debts.
Seems like a great story with a teachable lesson to anyone suffering from high debt levels. But with a closer examination, it seems to be more like the exception that proves the rule.
First, they were all sisters, got along and were within a few years of each other in age. They had an $186,000 in collective debt, which would be a little more than $45,000 per sister. They earned about $100,000, and so they moved in together and they lived on a strict budget, shopping only when necessary and only for bargains.
Two took second jobs and a third obtained substantial overtime. They managed to win raises and increased their income by 50 percent within a short time. They paid off their credit cards, car loans and then their student loans, all within two years.
The celebrated by taking a vacation paid for up front. What’s not to like?
Well, first they were young. Not everyone in debt has that advantage. Second, none of their debt was medical debt, meaning they were all healthy and were able to work two jobs. They also were lucky to be in companies where their jobs were secure and one could earn overtime.
Also, they had no family, no spouses or children they need to care for while working. Imagine if one had been divorced with an ex-husband who didn’t pay child support, or if one had been injured and had $150,000 in medical debt alone and was unable to work?
Their actions were laudable and they likely gained from more the experience than simply paying down their debt. But the truth is, it is a rather exceptional scenario.
Which is why for everyone else, there are bankruptcy courts and attorneys.
Source: forbes.com, “How Four Millennial Sisters Joined Forces To Demolish $182K Debt Within Two Years,” Vanessa McGrady, August 11, 2015