How to Survive Debtor’s Prison


Welcome to OZ, Debtor’s Prison my friend.

What are you in for?

Me? Student loans and credit card debt. Well, let me give you the lowdown of how things run here.

Those of us who have committed crimes worthy of a debtor’s prison sentence will be here for a while. Since you have student loan debt like me, don’t expect to get outta here any time soon with any parole. You gotta serve your full time. There is no redemption for us. No forgiveness.

There are some lessons you need to learn up front if you are going to survive in here.

Don’t Gamble – If you gamble, eventually you’ll owe the wrong people. In Debtor’s Prison gambling make take the form of side hustles that require up front payment. Get your debt down to a manageable level first before risking money on anything, even if it may make you some money.

Work Out – Deal with stress.  Make your body as strong as you can while you develop your financial mind strength.

Learn and Reflect – Identify what got you here. Reflect. This is a time for rehabilitation. Make the most of it. Prevent this from happening again. Spend time reading books, blogs and listening to podcasts about personal finance. Learn about not only your personal bad decisions, but also the larger socio-economic forces and inequities that got you where you are. Spend time reading up on personal relationship and self-help books. Being in debtor’s prison isn’t all about numbers. Learn about the emotional, psychological side to why you are where you are.

Plot your Escape. Look up ways to make more money faster and save more money faster.

Work – Work two jobs minimum.  In addition to your full-time job you’ll need at least one or two part-time jobs and/or side hustles.  Remember, your debt payoff system won’t work unless you do.

Avoid (Debt) Depression – It makes you weak and vulnerable. Learn the symptoms. Combat depression by eliminating that feeling of hopelessness. You do that by making detailed plans to plot your escape. Find someone to talk to when you feel down, and especially if you feel suicidal. If you don’t have anyone you can talk to – go online and join and online forum, comment on a blog, or start your own. There will be times when, with no distractions and just your thoughts, you can be dragged into depression by dwelling on opportunity cost and where you could have been, what you could have had, and what you could have done.

Stick up for Yourself – Don’t let others put you down because you are having financial problems. Stay away from people who  are mean to you and don’t socialize with them. Don’t be afraid to fight back when you need to.

Be a Model Prisoner – The end-game here is about getting out. Do everything you are supposed to. PAY OFF THAT DEBT. Good behavior = early release.

Get Out and Stay Out – 0% recidivism is your goal. You have learned your lesson. You don’t have to go home, but you gotta get outta here. Don’t ever come back.

That’s it. Remember those rules and you should be alright. Watch your back and don’t accept any gifts in here. Credit cards with 0% interest and cashback rewards are not gifts. Every ‘gift’ in here has strings attached. Remember that.  Good luck. See you around the yard.

(Note: Many of these points were adapted from articles on how to survive actual prison.)


“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)


  1. Cathy Edwards · November 22

    Hey there, you have been missed. Hope you have been well and can give us an end of the year update! Be blessed.


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