I’m a Black Woman Who Overcame $100k in Debt

Laptop and credit cards spread out on floor

It’s one of those that you might nod along to, knowing the pain, the hustle, and the eventual light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel. I’ve walked through a financial storm, carrying a burden of $100,000 in credit card debt, and emerged on the other side. This is my reflection, my truth, spoken from the heart of a black woman who’s seen a bit of everything.

The Path to Debt: It Wasn’t Just Shoes and Handbags

My descent into debt wasn’t about splurging on the latest fashion or trying to live a life splashed across Instagram. No, it was more personal, more painful. It started with a promise to myself to be there for my family, no matter what. When my cousin got caught up in some legal trouble, I didn’t think twice before pulling out my credit card to lend him a few thousand dollars for a lawyer. “It’s what family does,” I told myself, but that decision was like stepping into quicksand.

Then there was the house. My mom’s house needed urgent repairs, from a leaking roof to a broken heating system. Winter was coming, and the thought of her in the cold was unbearable. So, I charged lumber, shingles, and a new furnace to my cards, telling myself it was a temporary fix, a necessary step.

And yes, there were moments of weakness. Moments like convincing myself I deserved that new Balenciaga purse after a particularly rough month, or booking a weekend getaway to Miami because I was convinced a short break would somehow make everything better. Each swipe of the card was a whisper, telling me it would all work out in the end.

The Mental Toll: More Than Just Numbers

Debt is a weight that presses on you, not just when you’re awake, sorting through bills and notices, but in the quiet of night when you should be at peace. It was in those silent hours that the magnitude of my situation hit hardest. I felt trapped in a cycle of my own making, haunted by the fear of what might happen if I couldn’t make it right. The shame was a constant companion, making me question my worth, my decisions, and my future.

I withdrew from friends, too embarrassed to admit why I couldn’t go out or join on vacations. Family gatherings became minefields, dodging questions about my life and deflecting concern with practiced ease. But inside, I was screaming for help, too proud and too afraid to ask for it.

Climbing Out: A Road Paved with Hard Choices

Admitting I needed help was the hardest part. It felt like admitting defeat. But the day came when I couldn’t face my reflection, knowing I was living a lie. I reached out for professional help, sitting down with a credit counselor who didn’t flinch at my debt but instead laid out a plan, clear and doable.

I started small, tackling the highest interest rates first, cutting up credit cards, and setting up a budget that was more than a fanciful list of good intentions. I took on extra work, anything from freelance writing to tutoring kids after school. Every extra penny went to the debt.

Those Balenciaga purses? Sold them. The weekend getaways? Replaced by staycations and discovering free events in my city. I learned to find joy in the simple moments, realizing that the best things in life aren’t charged on a credit card.

Reflections from the Other Side

Now, here I am, debt-free. It’s a surreal feeling, looking back on those years of struggle. The journey taught me about resilience, about the strength I didn’t know I had. It taught me about the importance of community, of having people who support you, even when you’re too stubborn to ask for help.

I’ve learned to live within my means, to find happiness in what I have, not in what I can buy. And I’ve learned the importance of financial literacy, especially for black women. We face unique challenges, from systemic inequalities to the pressure of being the backbone for our families. But we also possess incredible strength, resilience, and the ability to overcome even the most daunting obstacles.

This has been a journey of finding myself, of shedding the weight of expectations and material possessions to discover what truly matters. It’s a message I hope resonates with anyone feeling trapped by their financial mistakes: there is a way out, and it starts with believing in yourself and taking that first, hard step towards freedom.