Debt: A cautionary tale

$60,000 in debt, and nothing to show for it


Mary Uhazi has more than $60,000 in credit card debt and, by her own account, “nothing to show for it.”

“You have some clothes, you have some dinner, you have a handbag, you have whatever, but it’s not $11,000 worth or it’s not $60,000 worth,” Uhazi said.

Uhazi is drowning in a sea of debt. And, like millions of other Americans, it is a debt load that she built up slowly over more than two decades of easy credit that made it all too simple to spend.


“The more money I earned, it seemed like the more money I spent, and the higher my credit was extended,” she said.

Soon, her wallet was stuffed with 13 credit cards, from stores such as Costco, Target, Nordstrom, Macy’s and Sam’s Club plus financial institutions. Still, Uhazi said she didn’t often worry about her credit card debt, reasoning that she paid at least the minimum balance on all her cards. She said she only made a single late payment, and that was an oversight.

“I was able to make the payments, and as long as I was able to make the payments I was OK,” she said.

Uhazi rarely talked about her credit card debt with her friends or family until recently. Her own mother, who has since passed away, went through a bankruptcy when Uhazi was in high school. But, Uhazi said, “I didn’t learn from her.”


One morning this spring, she sat down and tallied her debt. The total: $62,597.

“It’s awful, just looking at it,” she said.

If the debt was startling, so was the amount she was paying to service it. That month, Uhazi realized, she would have to pay $1,932 just in minimum credit card payments, about two-thirds of her reduced take-home pay of $3,018. After rent and other fixed expenses, she figured she’d have just $127 left for gas, food and other incidentals.

Perhaps the worst part was trying to figure out how her debt had reached that point.

“It was like, what do I have to show for this, really?” she said. “If I have anything, it’s just material stuff, or it’s a waistline from, you know, going out to lunch or something.”

Comment: Sad story .... 20 years of irresponsibility!

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