The Consequences of Aggressive Debt Repayment

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Getty ImagesWarning: The journey to debt freedom can take a toll on your mental health and relationships.
By Erin Lowry

Jacquelyn Delcamp felt directionless and unmotivated.

Like many of her fellow millennials, the then 24-year-old manager for the ticket marketplace company Vivid Seats explored realms of the Internet for inspiration. She ended up stumbling upon the personal finance blogging community where she discovered the site Studenomics. After reading the blog, Delcamp decided to email the site's founder Martin Dasko. The subsequent communication with Dasko motivated her to pay off $48,000 of debt in 10 months.

But such an aggressive debt payoff doesn't come without consequences. Her story shows some of the negative side effects of paying down debt.

The Strategy

consequences aggressive debt repayment
Courtesy: Jacquelyn Delcamp
Delcamp began to figure out how to take down $28,000 in student loans and $20,000 in credit card debt. Knowing she couldn't penny pinch her way out of the red, she decided to increase her income by picking up a side job delivering food for GrubHub. Delcamp began working 85 to 90 hours seven days a week. About 60 percent of her income went toward debt in weekly payments.

At first, Delcamp began to worry delivering for GrubHub would put a strain on her productivity at her day job. She would come in tired from working late into the night and needed to leave at specific times in order to make her GrubHub shift.

This delicate balance at first proved to be stressful, but eventually had a silver lining.

"I ended up getting better at work because I had time sensitivity attached to things that needed to get done," Delcamp explains. "Having a part-time job in the end helped improve my work ethic and has since helped me manage my time and priorities."

The Emotions of Facing Debt

Facing a mountain of debt isn't only frustrating -- it evokes a lot of mental strife for those who resent getting to that point in the first place.

"The credit cards were harder [to pay off] because that had a lot of emotion attached to it," Delcamp says. "I was upset about having such a high balance with credit cards knowing I had afforded myself experiences that I shouldn't have."

But it wasn't just Delcamp's relationship with her finances that struggled.

When Relationships Fizzle

A drastic lifestyle change often creates tension in relationships, be it with romantic partners, friends or family members.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-For me, I felt like I had become so driven to get rid of debt that everything fell to the wayside.%"For me, I felt like I had become so driven to get rid of debt that everything fell to the wayside," Delcamp says.

As Delcamp threw herself into a relentless pursuit of bringing in more cash and paying down debt, her friends weren't always supportive.

"Hearing other people criticize me for not being available to partake in social events and watching some friendships fizzle as a result was not fun," Delcamp explains.

While her partner supported her decision to get aggressive with debt, things weren't always easy at home either.

"My personal relationship was strained because we spent a lot of time together, and as a result, had to deal with each other in our worst," Delcamp recalls. "I found I was agitated often and stressed about where all my money went."

Ultimately, Delcamp and her partner grew closer as a result of embarking on the debt repayment journey together. Delcamp's relationship with healthy behaviors, however, did take a back seat during her journey to debt freedom.

The Toll of Physical Health When Treating Financial Health

Between doubling her workload and spending so many of those hours sitting, Delcamp quickly felt changes in her body.

"I did unfortunately build a routine that sometimes resulted around a bag of Brookside chocolate, my absolute favorite still, with a calorie-free peach tea," Delcamp says.

She would also occasionally call ahead and place an order at a restaurant where she planned to do a pick up for GrubHub. This reward system kept her motivated, but it resulted in some unwanted weight gain.

"[Debt repayment] has opened my eyes to knowing I need to invest in myself, not just financially, but in general," Delcamp emphasizes. "My body felt the brunt of it, mentally and physically."

In retrospect, Delcamp recognizes how exercise and healthy eating could have helped reduce some of the stressors of the debt repayment journey. However, finding the energy to workout after putting in a 12 to 15 hour day proved next to impossible.

A Word of Warning to Others

The now debt-free Delcamp sees her debt repayment journey as a path to create a clean slate upon which to pursue her passions and invest her money. Plus, the improved credit score doesn't hurt.

For others seeking to achieve a similarly impressive feat, Delcamp offers a word of warning and support: "People will not understand your goals. You have to be firm with what you want and unapologetic without being rude. No one will care about your money as much as you."

Erin Lowry writes about personal finance and serves as the content director for, a site dedicated to helping consumers save money by finding simple and transparent financial products. She is also the founder of the personal finance blog Broke Millennial.
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