When I was nineteen I moved out of home, having borrowed the money to buy a motorcycle so I could get around (I had a couple of tutoring jobs, plus casual bookshop work and some babysitting – altogether, I rarely worked more than three hours at a time, so public transport wasn’t an option).
Within two weeks I’d scratched a stranger’s car ($900 – and I do mean scratched, not dented), discovered the wonder of cavities for the first time in my life ($1000) and of course I needed to pay off the bike ($1000). My income after rent (which my parents paid for me) was $145/week. Then I lost two of my three jobs, and suddenly I was earning $10 per week. Within a month I was going hungry, and saving petrol by walking up to two hours to and from work. I still have faint scars on my feet from walking so far one day that my feet bled.
I kept my poverty a secret from my housemates and my parents, but after six months of independence I was forced to move back home (by which time I’d crashed my motorbike a few times, and had to sell it for parts – while still paying it off).
I crawled out of debt over two careful years, and didn’t get back into debt until I became mentally ill, at which point I lost my independence permanently.
CJ and I managed to get married without starting life in debt. We agree that, barring an immediate crisis (a medical emergency, or the sudden lack of something required for work such as the car), the only thing worth getting into debt for is a house.
We made an exception when we started our savings account in 2009, because if we put in enough money by a certain date we get a money bonus. So since (a) it’s not actually spending the money, and (b) it was matching what we’d already put in, and (c) it was creating more money – we borrowed thousands from my parents.
Today, finally, we finished paying it back. This certainly is awesome.
I may not be independent, but I am independent from my parents. That’s worth a lot.