How to Cope with Debt

Coping with debt is a skill.

For those of us with crushing long-term debt that it will take us years to pay off, coping with debt is a skill that could save our lives. While we are working our multiple jobs and side hustles,  making more money and cutting expenses, we need to realize that dealing with debt is more than a numbers game.


1. Breathe, Stretch, & Take a Walk

I know it sounds trite, but do it. Really. The stress of debt can be deadly. It has been linked to depression, chronic hypertension, migraines, digestive problems, heart and autoimmune diseases.  Get outside and get some sun. Deep breathing clears the lungs and lowers blood pressure. Stretching and moving increases healthy blood circulation. Taking a brisk walk strengthens the heart and exercises tense muscles. We all know how exposure to sunlight is very good for mood and natural vitamin D production.

girl writing

2. Start and Maintain a Debt Diary

When behind the bars of debtor’s prison, write. Write to save your sanity and your health.

Get a good old fashioned paper diary, regular notebook, Word/Google doc, or even a blog – whatever works for you. This diary / journal / logbook is where  you can vent about all the slights, put-downs, and insultiments you endure on a regular basis. Everytime you have your intelligence insulted on your job, write about it. Everytime you endure a desperation filled and humiliating job interview, write about it. Everytime you get snubbed by family, friends, or strangers, write about it.

Just told someone off because you couldn’t take it anymore – record it here for history. Found out that your  cousin who barely graduated high school/college married a doctor and is now on holiday with him in Europe?  Grind your teeth while you look for your bus pass.  The only place you can afford to go is to work! What about your classmate whose parents helped him start a business and who now works for himself.  Grind your teeth, and buy a dental guard from the store to avoid a nasty dentist bill, while on your way to your second job.

Write about these encounters, feel them, and get them out of your mind and down on paper – every detail. Don’t keep things bottled up. It leads to illness. Write about what happened, who said what, who did what, how the incident ended, and how it made you feel. Vow that once out of debt that this will not happen again. Then think about concrete actions that you can take to prevent it from happening again.


3. Sit Back for Cinema Therapy

Cinema therapy gives us a chance to make sense of our own financial situation by seeing it reflected in the lives of others. For some, distance provides perspective. There a few different forms of cinema therapy.


4. Catch the Reading Rainbow

Whether nonfiction books, fiction novels, or blogs, read things that educate, entertain, or edutain you about personal finance, minimalism, frugality, and lifestyle design. Don’t overlook the fiction genre. One entertaining fiction book about sudden unemployment that I enjoyed recently was Bitter is the New Black. Check it out from your local library. You do patronize your FREE local library, right?


5.  Join a Personal Finance/ Debt Therapy Group

Don’t want to bother your friends and family with another diatribe or cry session? Has your debt diary started yelling back at you to stop harassing it? You may be the perfect candidate for group therapy. There are online and face-to-face groups available for the joining. Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover Forums, Early Retirement Extreme Forums, local meetup groups, and countless others can give you the support you need to vent and strategize ways out of debt. Drag those scary financial skeletons out of the closet. No local face-to-face groups in your area? Start one on


6. Reduce or eliminate the junk

Didn’t think I’d let you off the hook that easily, did you? We all know the drill. Cut out, or at least cut down, the sugar, alcohol, and fried foods. Don’t self-medicate with drugs, or alcohol. We all know that it will cause more and worse problems down the line.

There you have it. These are a handful of ways to begin coping with long-term large debt, while we actively work to claw ourselves out of it as fast as we can. I’m working on these myself. It’s not easy.

What are some ways that you cope with your large debt?


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

It’s official. I have been fired.

As of about two hours ago, what I feared and expected, came to pass.  I was called into a Friday, 4pm meeting with my manager. She informed me what the situation was, and that she had to lay me off.

I was expecting it as you all know, but I thought I’d be able to work out a transition plan where I could at least work until I found something else. No. Everything was effective immediately. That caught me off guard. I got teary eyed at the suddenness of it all.

I’m not broken up about losing this job very much. I have been submitting job applications to other places for the last few weeks. I’m stressed out about how I’m going to pay my bills. If I didn’t have any debt, I could make do because my living expenses are now so low. But, I do have debt, a lot of it. How am I going to make those minimum payments if I don’t get another job right away? I. hate. debt.

I hate that debt is causing me so much stress. I hate the way I’ve felt all week, waiting for the axe to fall. I watched my manager avoid me all week. I sat at my desk with nothing to do while co-workers had three projects each. The last hour before the meeting was nerve-wracking.  I hate being at someone’s mercy like that. I will never ever go into debt again. No amount of stuff is worth this. My number one priority is to get another 9-5, live as cheaply as possible  and pay this debt off as fast as I can.

I have to tell my landlord and re-assure her that I will be able to pay rent. I will be eligible for unemployment benefits.

I have to tell my family (my siblings and parents) and deal with that. That’s going to be the source of another post. I’m sure of it.

Sigh. My landlord/roommate #1, a 59 year old woman, just came back to the house with her boyfriend. That makes me feel so alone, because I have no one to console me right now. I don’t think it has completely hit me yet. I’m unemployed. I am unemployed. I have no place to go on Monday. And the clock is ticking.

Soon, I will formulate a plan of action (filing for unemployment benefits, ramping up job applications, etc.). For right now, tonight, I just need to cope and deal with this emotionally.