Britta Holmberg became favorite of the 12M Loans Scholarship Contest for her inspirational and very honest essay, and a beautiful infographic, that can be pinned for a wall in your room for daily motivation. Enjoy reading Britta’s essay.
Where Indebtedness Will Lead Me: From Fearing to Flourishing
Over the summer, I had the unfortunate experience of being involved in a traffic accident. My parents and I decided that I would pay the insurance deductible on the repairs since I was the driver at fault. This was the first time I ever went into debt. When I realized this meant my forthcoming earnings were now being put toward that, I was immediately unhappy.
I had been saving my money for a school trip to Europe with my classmates, and to realize that the money in my paychecks was already spoken for was frustrating. I was able to pay off the deductible within two months, but I realized in that short time that going into debt was not something I wanted to do ever again. Being in debt results in feeling like one is overwhelmed, or that one does not have any control anymore. By contrast, living debt-free can lead to freedom, flourishing, and a sense of personal control.
Seventy percent of students take out a student loan each year, which can take as much as ten years to pay back. This means that the majority of college students are financially burdened for years after they graduate, during a time when their earning power is typically lower than it will be for the rest of their careers. Like any student dealing with debt, I felt I didn’t have any control over what I had worked hard to earn, nor did I have the funds to do and buy other things I might have wanted or needed while I was working to pay back the deductible.
I had to sacrifice a lot in order to pay it off as soon as possible in order to avoid it piling up and costing more later. When it is not a priority to pay off a student loan, financials can cripple people for the rest of their life, but they continue to take out more loans in order to compensate. This cycle repeats over and over until the hole of debt is so deep it is impossible to get out of. The average American is saddled with $38,000 in debt (excluding home mortgages). Knowing how hard it was for me to deal with the deductible, it seems nearly impossible to pay something as large as $38,000 back.
My dad took out a student loan for college, and I remember him telling me what he went through in order for him to pay it off. He had to move into someone’s basement for the cheapest rent possible. He ate inexpensively and almost had to sell his car. My father did not take out a large loan, so I can only imagine how the burden of a larger debt must affect others. My dad is among the minority of people who pay off their loan early, and he reaps the benefits of that today because he was then able to start saving what he’d been paying on his loan.
Indebtedness leads people to feel as though they’re in a hole that grows ever deeper due to compounding interest, and possibly other debts were taken on because of having to spend much of their earnings to pay off the original loan. While I was working to pay off my debt, that feeling caused me to feel selfish about the little money I had left over.
Once I’d paid my debt off, I found a renewed sense of generosity and was much more willing to share with others. My dad felt the same way when he paid off his loans; he didn’t just begin saving; he also began giving regularly. Debt doesn’t just overwhelm people with fear over being able to pay for what they need; it also inhibits their ability to help others through generosity.
I’m committed to starting my adult life with as little debt as possible, which is why I am trying to rely only on scholarships to help me reach my dream school. This decision will allow me to invest my time, money, and effort into what I find valuable and to benefit others. Having to pay for the deductible for the car accident was hard, but it taught me to take responsibility for my actions and to work hard to eliminate debt quickly. Indebtedness would lead me to a deep hole of more debt, increased feelings of overwhelm, and loss of personal control.
But a debt-free life (once I can achieve it) will lead me to a place of generosity, self-discipline, and flourishing.
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Name: Britta Holmberg
Institution: Biola University
Major: Biology and Art
Graduation Year: 2024