Money Masters Blab Interview with Melanie Lockert of Dear Debt

Dear Debt: Go Away and Then It Did

Our first Money Master of 2016 is Melanie Lockert of Dear Debt. Melanie paid off 81,000 dollars in student loan debt. In the course of doing so, she created her blog, Dear Debt and has become the ultimate side-hustler. Among her many gigs, Melanie has her Dear Debt blog, is a public speaker, a brand connector (which has nicely benefited The Debt Free Guys) and is a coach.

We chose Melanie to be a Money Master because she took control of a rough financial situation and has turned it into a full-time job. Melanie now lives an exciting debt free life and it pure inspiration for anyone with a goal of being debt free or who wants to become a freelancer. Melanie just published an amazing book about her journey out of debt and provides great tools and how you can get out of debt, too. You can find her book, Dear Debt: A Story about Breaking Up with Debt, here on Amazon.

Watch the Money Master Blab Interview here and then check out her text interview below.

1. What’s the story of Dear Debt?

I’ve taken out a total of $81,000 in student loans, attending undergrad and my dream graduate school, NYU. After graduating from NYU, I had a difficult time finding a job. One cross-country move later and things got worse. I could only find seasonal, low-paying work and was barely able to get by and pay off my debt.

It was a tough time and when I started to really embrace the art of the side hustle. I worked as a housecleaner, brand ambassador, pet sitter and more. After feeling depressed about the state of my career and debt, I wanted to make a change in my life. I thought I did everything right — work hard, go to school — and I didn’t get the result I wanted. So, I started Dear Debt in January 2013 to channel my frustrations into something positive.

I was literally sick and tired of my debt and needed something to change. Once I started to write about my debt, I realized I wasn’t alone. I found others just like me, struggling with student loan debt and trying to make things work. The blog took on a life of its own. I started making connections in the community and started writing for other blogs as well.

In July of 2014 I quit the job I was finally able to obtain — a $30,000 per year nonprofit job. It was incredibly scary, but I had faith that I could make more money and make this work. Through a lot of hard work and dedication, I’ve been able to double my income in the last year. I never in a million years would have thought this was possible.

It’s weird. I’ve always wanted to be my own boss, but never knew how to get there. I never thought I’d write about personal finance, but sometimes you take a different route to your desired destination. I’m very happy with the way things are. Because of blogging and making more money, I’m so much happier and paying off more debt. I have about $17,000 in student loan debt — when I started my blog, I still had about $60k left, so I’ve been able to make great progress by side hustling, making more money, and living frugally.

2. What’s your point of view of Dear Debt?

I believe that everyone has the power to make more money and ask for what they’re worth. For so long, I made peanuts because I didn’t think I was worth enough. I think hard work will get you most places, but not everywhere. It’s important to understand the privileges we are afforded, with our race, class, family, relationship status, etc.

I think money is a lot more emotional than we give it credit for. We think money is all about numbers, but if that were the case, we’d all be rich and have no problem paying off debt. My blog aims to address the emotional aspect of debt and money.

Also, I have my own opinions about what I think is best — how to save, pay off debt, etc. — but I think people have to do what makes them sleep best at night.

Lastly, I prefer to spend money on experiences over things and believe that money can be used as a tool to enjoy life.

3. In one sentence, what’s one piece of sage advice from your personal finance background that you’d like to share with our readers?

Your self-worth is not your networth.

Visit Melanie’s blog at Dear Debt and subscribe to her website.

What is a Money Master?

We’d love to believe that we’re your be-all, end-all for all things personal finance; alas, we don’t have bodies like Zach Efron or Channing Tatum, either. We’re realists. We know there are other rockstar personal finance and money experts. We even think some are a cut above the others, or they have a unique voice that we think you’ll like. 

Join us the first and third week of each month for text and video interviews of each Money Master. For more, follow us on Twitter and Facebook

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Comment List

  • Eff You Money 08 / 01 / 2016 Reply

    Nice write up.. I can’t imagine what $80k+ of student loan debt feels like. My SO has about $130k and can only find retail positions. It’s a struggle, for sure. He could have bought a very nice duplex where we live, and have been profiting ever since. But, that’s all in the past.

    I want to retire early and while I used to think his low income would be a hindrance, this works out for us. Because he can’t spend money, and I *don’t want to* spend money…we make a pretty good team. We’ve found that you don’t have to spend much money at all to have fun and feel satisfied.

  • Mrs Lewis 11 / 01 / 2016 Reply

    It’s websites like these that provided the inspiration for me to start being “sick” of my debt. Like everyone else in America I had just been used to being in debt and it was normal. When I started to envy the lifestyles of the financially free, I knew it was time to make some changes. So many bloggers have laid out the path of how to free yourself from debt. Now I just have to follow that advice, have patience and persevere through the next 3-5 years as I pay it off. I didn’t know it was possible, thank for showing the way.

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