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’Til debt do us in 

Haligonians with different degrees of debt chronicle how they’ve payed their dues.

Debt is all around us and that’s OK. No matter what your cash flow may be, waves of financial woes are a part of life. We spoke with folks who decided to run with them, open up and divulge how they deal or don’t deal with their debt.

“I climbed out of financial debt by myself.”
“No one expects to meet someone, fall in love and have two children, just to have it all fall apart,” Laurie, 37, says of being a single parent. She says it’s hard to listen to couples talk about money struggles: “Two incomes in one household is a dream to me.” Laurie supports herself and kids working three jobs, heading to each back to back every day. She says it’s been one of the most difficult times of her life, but has beat her troubles with perseverance. “Here I am, not homeless, roof over my head, car to drive and two kids who respect my hard work.”

“I honestly don’t know what I’d do without my husband.”
Carolyn, 30, owes $80,000 on student loans and a line of credit. “I’ll be in my 40s before my student debt is paid off,” she says. Her husband took a high-paying job he hated while she did masters degree so she wouldn’t sink deeper into the negative. “I like to split bills 50/50 but with $1,000 a month to student loans and my line of credit, I can’t afford to pay half the mortgage, half the power bill, let alone put any money into savings.” Despite the financial stress, they want to start a family and after 11 years together, she says they’ve always found a way to make it work.

“Sometimes it’s hard to have hope for Halifax.”
Lindsay, 30, opened Big Pony two years ago with her pal Emily. The pair has since gone through some rough patches financially and considered leaving the business after experiencing brutal income woes. The supportive community has made the shop busier and better, but Lindsay worries about the future of Halifax and its small businesses. “I want to build a future here as long as it’s a viable option, but Emily and I have hit several crippling realities,” she says. “I haven’t always believed this business is sustainable, things continuously get better with time, but we’re always conscious of our back-up options.”

“I learned the value of the money I was earning.”
“My proud earnings from playing a gig were gone in one afternoon, spent on basic necessities,” says Leith, 22, a musician. “One has to be careful in the music industry.The sporadic gig pay of a part-time musician seldom covers full-time life expenses, and your standard of living has to adjust to that.” For Leith the alterations are small—walking more, less trips to the bar and not excessively eating at restaurants.

“The burden of debt for something flashy isn’t worth my freedom”
Adam was 19 when he bought a $40,000 vehicle and says the novelty quickly wore off. It took him five years to pay it off. Now he says his school debt will haunt him for years to come. “I find debt for education easier to pay back than for a ridiculous vehicle, and I’m slowly chipping away at it.”

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Vol 24, No 28
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