I’m In Debt – MTV True Life
Last night my wife and I were flipping channels and we came across the show True Life on MTV. The focus of the show was on three young women that were in debt and how they were handling their debt.
1 out of 3.
Of the three young women, only one of them seemed to have a realistic view on the hard work required to get out of debt. She had a mortgage of about $150,000 and approximately $20,000 in credit card debt. While she was struggling to earn enough money to make her payments, she was working and pursuing additional shifts at her job in an effort to earn more money.
While I would have liked to see her take the initiative to get another part-time job for the hours she was not working as a bartender, she was at least making the effort to increase her income in order to make progress on her debt. Throughout the episode, she indicated that she is living a relatively frugal life where she does not go out partying or spending money. Rather than eating out, she buys groceries and eats cheaply at home.
Are They Kidding?
The other two women really seemed like they were behaving like they just wanted to be featured on television, as I would really hope that people in their early 20’s do not have that distorted of a view on life and debt. Some of the comments made by these other two women really amazed me and made me want to reach through the television and smack them.
One of the women did not have a job and was looking through a pile of job postings when she commented that she did not want any of these jobs because it would take up all of her time. Where did this woman come from? It amazes me that someone would make a comment like this but when you look at her situation, maybe it is not all that amazing. She is living at home with her parents and her mom seems to help her with everything. Later in the episode, it was revealed that her parents were even making payments on her debt. With this type of support, she has little motivation to make her life better on her own.
The third woman was also living at home and did not seem to have a serious mindset to eliminating her debt. It was revealed that she had been meeting with a bankruptcy attorney and was planning to file for bankruptcy. At a cost of $1800-1900 for the bankruptcy, she was paying approximately 10% of her outstanding debt to be free of her obligations.
As part of the bankruptcy, she had to meet with a credit counselor who explained that bankruptcy was not her only option. Based on her income, which I believe was about $900 per month, he explained that they could get her a debt repayment plan where she would pay a little over $400 per month to her debt. The duration of the plan was for 41 months and it would leave her approximately $300 to live on each month.
In my opinion, this seemed like the logical solution as she would be able to repay her obligations and still have money to cover her expenses on a monthly basis. However, it really did not come as much of a surprise when she still opted to pursue the bankruptcy. After all, she was shown receiving a check from her last job earlier in the show for a little over $200.
Rather than cash the check at her bank, she cashed it at a payday loan establishment to avoid the bank holding the money and covering any fees out of the deposited cash. Immediately after cashing the check, she went to the tanning salon and upgraded her service and then went shopping and spent more money on clothes. Well, it is no surprise that she is in debt when she spends her money as soon as it hits her hands.
Moment of Disgust.
After she completed her bankruptcy proceedings, this woman was shown at a restaurant with friends and she actually seemed proud that she was able to discard all of her financial obligations. It seemed like a big joke to this woman and she was already out spending money with friends, rather than learning how to properly manage her money.
This behavior was really disgusting to me as I feel that bankruptcy should only be an option in extremely dire circumstances. This woman used bankruptcy to avoid 3-4 years of hard work to repay the debts that she incurred. She was not willing to make the necessary sacrifices required to eliminate her debt. Unfortunately, I would guess that the probability of her ending up right back in debt is rather high.
Watching this show really made me feel like I want to change my career to be in a position to try and educate the American youth on the dangers of credit card debt and how to be responsible with your money. Right now that is what I am trying to provide with this blog, as I hope to use this as a vehicle to share some of the financial tips and habits that I have learned over the years.
Of the three women featured in this episode, I was happy to see that the one woman seemed to be making progress on her debt and was following a path that would lead her to success. It is unfortunate to see the other two *adults* with their lack of motivation or self-respect to do the work required to fix their mistakes, which will likely mean that they continue this pattern for many more years to come.