How I Paid Off $35,000 of Debt Over Lunch

Alden Wicker

In 2005, I moved to New York to start a job in book publishing. I had $28,000 in school debt, and no credit card debt—but I underestimated how much it cost to live in the city.

I was only making $30,000 (about $27,000 after taxes), yet I wanted anything and everything. I was a huge fan of Broadway. I wanted to go out to dinner. As a result, my credit card exploded—in a year, I went from zero in credit card debt to $8,000!

My mom was really concerned, so she lent me the $8,000, with no interest. I used it to pay off my card—and then started charging it again.

One day in 2008, I tallied up my personal loans and credit cards and realized that I was $16,000 in debt—and that didn’t include school loans. It was more than half of what I made in a year.

RELATED: Which Debts to Pay Off First?

When two co-workers and I started joking about how broke we were, I realized that we were in similar straits. We looked around for help and inspiration, but we could only find investment and money planning groups for older individuals—people who made at least twice as much as we did.

So I proposed starting our own group, which we called “Money Lunch.”

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