A Story About Paying Off Debt and the Obstacles Along the Way

I Need A Break From PF Twitter

Around the time that I started this blog, I joined Twitter and became part of the very active personal finance community there.

At first, it was a real boon. I met other people who were going through similar experiences or who'd had similar experiences in the past. When I asked for feedback on things like debt repayment vs. investing, how to set up an IRA, or how much to keep in our emergency fund, I received invaluable advice. And when I'd post about our debt repayment victories, my new PF friends would respond with nothing but encouragement. 

As a somewhat shy introvert who often struggles with in-person interactions, this realm of social media was the perfect place to talk about the things that interested me - personal finance, yes, but also careers, our kids, etc. - and meet likeminded people at various points in their life/financial journeys. 

Overall, it was a positive place to be, and I was (and am) grateful for it.

Lately, though, the discussions and commentary in the PF Twitter community feel... not positive. I log on and see Tweets to the effect of:

People who can't afford school shouldn't take out student loans.

If you are in debt, someone else owns your future!

I can't believe how much debt people have. It's SCARY. People have NO financial literacy. They're SO irresponsible.

If you're struggling with money, you're just not trying hard enough.

If you're struggling with money, you just need to work harder. Take on a second or third side hustle.

Increasing your income is easy! Just get a new job.

I can't believe my friend bought a car/new furniture/a vacation. They can't afford it and they got mad when I told them what I thought! [Sidenote: your friends don't want your opinion on their purchases unless they ask for your opinion.]

Frugality is dumb. Just increase your income.

OMG, look at this chart of millennial net worth! This is so SAD. I have SO MUCH MORE than this because *I* planned ahead and saved.

Look at this article! This 53-year-old has no retirement fund! She is SCREWED.

Who the eff takes out a car loan. STUPID PEOPLE THAT'S WHO.

Don't be AVERAGE. Average is SAD. Be extraordinary and FIRE! 

If social media doesn't get to you - if you're immune to comparing yourself to others even when you're in what essentially amounts to a virtual room full of people telling you (directly or indirectly) that you're doing it wrong - then cool. I salute you.

I, a melty, vulnerable little snowflake, am 100 percent willing to admit that these messages do get to me. Because we do have student loans. We don't have enough retirement money. My job change has made our lives better but it doesn't pay enough. We did struggle with finances for a long time. 

Using basic logic to connect the dots, I can't help but read these Tweets and feel like I'm dumb, lazy, whiny, ungrateful, and irresponsible.

But we've put a lot of work into our finances, and we/I don't deserve to feel that way.

Our story isn't exciting enough to become personal finance clickbait, but we've made an enormous amount of progress. We're finally in the green on our net worth (and before that, we were in the red but on a positive trajectory). We have some savings. We've paid off some debt. Because I ditched a soul-sucking job with a good salary and health benefits for a no-benefits job that I actually enjoy, I no longer feel constantly depressed, anxious, and stressed out. 

And that's just us/me. Other people with debt, behind on retirement funds, and/or lacking in savings have their own stories. Maybe those stories involve poor choices made way in the past. (News flash: everyone makes poor choices sometimes. It's called being human.) Maybe they involve really expensive, unavoidable life situations. There are any number of possible reasons. You don't know. You can't know. And yet we continue to send out the message that if you're not in a good financial place, you're an idiot, plain and simple.

You can say whatever you want, of course. I'd just like to point out that if your goal is to help other people, none of the above messages are in any way motivating, uplifting, or encouraging. If your goal is to pat yourself on the back for making all the right financial choices, can't you do that without putting other people down?

Many Tweeters in the community are amazing and wonderful, but somehow it's the negative stuff that gets lodged in my brain. I've spent most of these first few weeks of 2020 with the vague sense that I'm failing, and Twitter is not helping. 

So I just need to step back, clear my head, and recalibrate. 

I'm not deleting my Twitter account. I'll be back sometime, when I get my head on straight and feel less sensitive to the commentary. And I'll still be writing on this blog. I plan to comment more on other people's blog posts because I really do like interacting with fellow money nerds. 

If we're friends and you want to connect elsewhere (Instagram [where I don't talk about money at all], Twitter DMs, text, probably not the phone because I hate the phone), then let's do that. 

Sincerely,
$76K
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10 comments:

  1. I have nothing to say except "Some people are assholes". I've stopped reading certain people's Tweets/blog posts for this very reason.

    If you're looking for a place to comment, come to my blog! Comments are always appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I plan to do a lot more blog commenting.

      Even without the dumb comments on Twitter, it's become a huge time sink. Time to dial it back.

      P.S. You're the best!

      Delete
  2. Hola $76K!

    I became burned out from blogging too which is why I stopped blogging. After a while there wasn't much I could say differently. And from my POV the general majority of bloggers did not face similar challenges. Sexual discrimination at work, hispanic culture, having to think about taking care of parents. Sure some people can retire with $40K annual expense. But most of those people don't have to think about their parents' retirement.

    I still read a ton of blogs including yours, and am very engaged in twitter with only individuals that I want to be engaged in.

    You're not alone. Just keep hustling.

    Savvy Financial Latina

    ReplyDelete
  3. I get burned out on all the sociopolitical oneupsmanship. But that isn't just PF Twitter or Twitter - that's social media in general. It's biased towards activism, and biased towards younger (read: more leftist) activists. After a couple of weeks of being engaged, I recognized the patterns of an echo chamber and began to govern my engagement more carefully, until, finally, I pretty much ignore most of the FI/RE and PF folks on social media now. I already know what I'm doing, financially speaking, and the positive reinforcement they occasionally offer me isn't as valuable as it was when I was starting out.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm just here, commenting on your blog, that you are so right. But you are also so loved in PF Twitter. Come back whenever you want, but I will miss you in the meantime.
    I'm sure you know my IG handle, overmyerjosh if you want to connect there.
    Enjoy the time away, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Josh! I followed you on Insta. :-) I'll almost definitely be back to Twitter; there are parts of it that I love and that are very supportive. Maybe I just need to create a separate Twitter feed for the people I actually want to communicate with.

      Delete
  5. I appreciate your voice in this space precisely for the sanity it interjects into these hustle-hustle-hustle "It's so easy!" badgering from 20 somethings who haven't lived as an adult through a recession or two and made a life choice (or encountered a crisis) or two that might require a different trajectory than ever financially upward. Please do what you need for your health and keep writing! See you around.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Here's the thing, the success of MMM has spawned a lot of wannabe MMMs and as a previous commenter said, the one-upmanship is terrible and an attempt to grab a piece of the lucrative pie (most will fail). I fully expect a blog where someone announces they FIREd when they were an embryo.

    Back in the real world...

    Life is complex, and unpredictable. Man makes plans, the Gods laugh. I could tell you my story, but I think there's enough self-promotion on the Net already (although I don't have a blog or social media) and I don't want to come across like that.

    We each have our own story to tell, and our own road to tread, so keep telling your story, and the rest is noise.

    ReplyDelete