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5 Things You Shouldn’t Say To Someone That’s Paying Off Debt

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Telling someone that they're paying off debt is like telling them that they're losing weight. It's a great thing to do, but hearing people say the wrong things can be challenging. So here are five things you should never say to someone trying to get out of debt.

Congratulations on paying off debt! Having debt sucks. It really does.

Worrying about money and bills will affect us financially and personally. Living paycheck to paycheck is not the right way to live. So many of us decided to take control of our finances and fight back.

We decided to pay off debt and regain control of our lives to start living again.

During our financial journey, we encountered many bumps on our road, yet we kept moving. You see, not paying off our debt wasn't a choice.

As a Latina woman growing up in one of the poorest cities in the US, I never had someone teach me about finances.

We only learned in high school how to write a personal check. Other than that, I never grew up learning about debt or how money worked. So for me, having debt seemed OK.

Everyone has debt; as long as we kept up with the world, we were OK.

Fast forward to when we started our journey and started paying off debt, out went the weekly nails and pedicure treatments, the spending on the latest style of clothing, and other things. Adios eating out and weekend hanging out at the local club.

I said goodbye to trying to impress others for the sake of appearances. I wanted to live life without worrying about money. I wanted to be happy, but the way I was living was not the way to live.

When I decided to take control of my finances and start the paying off debt, I came across many obstacles; the negative comments and the not-so-subtle way we got treated because we were different.

These comments and attitudes came out of ignorance, but they still hurt.

I didn't anticipate losing friends or distancing myself from situations or people dear to me, but sadly, the road to financial freedom is not easy.

It's not about money either.

During this journey, you learn much more about yourself and life. You know to grow a thick skin, and you learn to value what is essential.

Even after achieving our financial goals, we still hear bits of comments about our finances and the way we live our lives today. For these reasons alone, I decided to write this post for those who know or have been in this situation. I wanted to write what you shouldn't say to people who are paying off debt and are kicking butt doing it.

I also wrote my responses to these comments because this is precisely what I want to say when people say these things to other people or me.

This is my chance!

This is our chance!

“Didn't know you were a cheapskate.”

Here we are, starting to pay off our debt, and we hear this. Cheap and frugal are not the same thing.

You see, I don't worry about the cost. I care about the value. This is a big difference. My financial worries are not about now but the long-term aspect of life and money in the future.

Paying off my debt is not about right now. It's about my future. When you're cheap, you worry about right now, while we frugal folks worry about the future.

I love saving money, but not at other people's expenses. 

If I were cheap, I would have taken you up on a dinner offer and expected you to pay for it! 😉 Because I am frugal, I would have invited you to my home and made dinner for us instead.

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Value is important to me, not cost; my debt freedom journey doesn't affect anyone negatively, unlike a cheapskate whose cheap ways negatively influence others. See the difference?

Calling someone trying to take control of their finances cheap is simply a cheap shot!

Learning the difference between being cheap and being frugal is extremely important since frugal sometimes can be seen as unfavorable. I am not cheap; I value my money and my family's future.

“I'm able to give my kids everything.”

This one has to be the one that really irritates the crap out of me. But, it has been said to me repeatedly, and I smile.

Not today, people, not today!

Money doesn't define me as a parent; just because I chose to cut expenses and live below my means doesn't make me or anyone a terrible parent.

Your definition of giving your children “everything” versus mine is extremely different.

I don't recall “getting into debt,” meaning being a good parent.

What happened to love, value, and respect, things that don't cost a thing, to measure your capabilities as a parent?

“I could never do what you are doing.”


Many of us are programmed to think that keeping up with the Joneses is the way to go in our country.

We always say we don't care what others think of us.

When you say things like that to me or anyone paying off their debt, you are telling us that you DO care and would rather live your life according to others.

You DO care what others think of you, and you would rather be in debt and stressed over your finances because you want to keep up with the Joneses.

“Why save money? When you die, you can't take it with you.”

I take it by this comment you'd rather be in debt, and when you die, leave your family with the debt of burying you, among other things?

If you could take your debt with you when you die, you wouldn't be saying that!

“It must be nice!”

It must be nice, huh? Just like that?

Years of busting my behind paying off debt, changing the way my family and I live, and you make it sound like it's simple enough?

Like I was lucky!

I killed my debt, live below my means, and you think my hard work, tears, and sweat can be summed up as it must be nice.

“It must be nice to be rich!”

“It must be nice to have that money saved.”

Well, yes, it is nice. Hard work does pay off, but reducing my hard work to your “must be nice” status is simply annoying.

It must be nice to spend and live above your means, give your kids everything, so you can keep up with the Joneses, and then die and leave all your debt for your family to figure out because you are too broke-minded to care!

So, there you have it, mis amigos.

My fabulous responses to those fabulous comments people have said, and continue to say, to me because I decided my family would start valuing life and living.

For those on the struggling and kicking butt working on your finances, I hope this post motivates you and you realize that some of us have been there and know what you are going through.

Don't give up on your financial road and prove to them that “it must be nice” to live a rich life!

Now it's time for you to tell me what other mean things people have said to you or your family because you decided to live frugally. This is your chance to let them have it so we can move forward to other things.


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  1. You know/knew some really rude people! 😉

    The one that got me was the person who informed me to get a job (I’m a sahm/wahm) and what does it matter because “you’ve always going to be in debt anyway.” I’m not longer friends with that person. That was one of many reasons. It’s crazy how something as simple (but important) as paying off debt can bring out people’s true colors.

    (visiting from Thrifty Thursday)

    1. I think people don’t realize how offensive their remarks are or hurtful for that matter. I agree with you Julie, when it comes to money some people’s true colors surely show. Thank you for stopping by.

  2. I LOVED this post! My wife and I have always been “different” from most folks and have been working like crazy to get out of debt. 14 years we’ve been doing this, and we finally did it a couple months back. SO exciting… and yes, we heard all the comments you mentioned. “The Masses” just do whatever they’re told to do by society (buy new cars, big houses, get a second mortgage so you can take your dream vacation, buy a bigger tv, etc). You and I are part of a small group of people who go against the grain. So, congrats to us! Thanks for writing this! For some reason, this is using my personal facebook page to post, but I also have a blog at www.OnLaymonsTerms.com if you’d like to check it out. I’ll follow yours, too! Thanks a million, again, for the insightful article, and GOOD LUCK ON YOUR JOURNEY!!!! -Chris Laymon

    1. Hurray to us!!! I’ve been wanting to write this for a long time. Seeing how others are going through the journey and experiencing how people will react inspired me to write it. “Must be nice” only 14 years! *sarcasm* I’m very happy that you were able to do this and stuck by it. Its a great feeling.
      Thank you for stopping by I will sure check your blog out, Chris.

  3. Yes, I can definitely see how these would be super annoying to hear! “I’m able to give my kids everything.” – Right. That one is not only obnoxious but also a downright lie. We all have to pick and choose what we spend our money on. Choosing to be debt free is one of the best things you will EVER give your kids. Thanks for sharing the great post!

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  5. Some people are so materialistic, all they see is that their kid has the latest iPod and they think that means they are a fantastic parent. Thanks for posting. Hello from Thrifty Thursday.

  6. I can’t believe people say some of these things! You’d think friends would be happy that you’re trying to better your life.

    1. When you grow up competing with the Joneses this is what happens. No longer are you part of the click. I don’t see it as a negative thing but a learning experience. Sadly many people are not happy of other people’s success. We learned the hard way and we moved on.

  7. We have paid off 20k in debt & still are not done. I get the “how do you even have so much debt?” Or”how is that possible?” I would really love veto take a look at their finances & show them what they are being blind to. At least I own up tony debt! It’s a marathon, not a sprint!

    1. YES!!! I love that one too. How can (insert name) accumulate so much debt? I heard that one before and continue to hear it. I think is ignorant on their part. They don’t nor have really looked at their finances to see how much debt they have. You keep going Sara and don’t give up!

  8. I love this post! It’s so true. These comments really piss me off. Thanks for sharing this on Share the Wealth Sunday!

  9. This is a fantastic post! I especially like the way you explain the difference between being cheap and being frugal.

    1. Thank you Vickie! This is something many people don’t understand and need to be educated about. Glad you like the post.

  10. I’m always amazed by the things some people say! Good for you for paying off your debt and not listening to those silly people! Thanks for sharing at Share The Wealth Sunday

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  12. My last post I said the exact same thing as your #1- There is a huge difference between frugal and cheap! Thanks for the post!

      1. Oh thanks! It’s #4 🙂 http://blueblanket21.com/for-the-home/five-tips-on-reducing-waste-saving-money/

        1. Read it! I loved it and I love your blog! I wasn’t able to comment though. 🙁

          1. Thank you so much for checking my blog out. And thank you for letting me know there was no comment form. I don’t know why but my Jetpack comment form suddenly is only showing up on my posts, not my pages. Thank again! 🙂

  13. I remember years ago at work a lady who was working three jobs. She had two children at home and she proudly carried a huge debt load. I did not want to work much and finally decided I was going to stay at home full-time with my children. We made drastic cuts in our spending and even decided credit cards had to go. Her response to me about wanting to be debt-free was ” I may be in debt, but it’s because my children come first. ” In other words, I was being selfish for not wanting to give my children everything their little heart desired. I decided to ignore the comment and persisted. Thank you for sharing your awesome ideas 🙂 Sonja

    1. Thank you for sharing this Sonja! Just read this and was like GRRR!! When I left my good paying job to stay at home at home, I took a major pay cut which people STILL don’t get. I’m home with my kids and we are doing good. It seems like people just live for money. I had several people tell me this too. Money doesn’t defy us a people nor as parents! I am so glad you keep up with your decision!

  14. I find in trying to pay back debt, if I`m at a store with a friend, or talking to someone about something I saw online, I sometimes get asked “Are you sure you can afford that?” or “Don`t you think you should wait to buy that till you pay off your debt?” And while they are just trying to be nice and remind me that I have higher goals than simply spending money now, at the same time, I know exactly how much debt I have, and if I never bought anything fun, maybe I`d pay off my loans in like 30 years instead of 40 or whatever it works out to…but I don`t think cutting everything fun out is the way to go!

    1. Love this comment and here’s my opinion about this. If your friends and family are asking you this questions maybe is because your idea of spending on fun is and will affect you in the future. You might think that paying your debt in 30 instead of 40 works but have you considered in how much debt you will accumulate by then? I think you are relating living frugally and saving money to not having fun and believe me, after we cut down our debt and only owe our home we are enjoying life even better. Cutting down debt is not about money for us it was about changing the way we were living and our perception of money. Did we have fun while cutting back and paying our debt ? Yes we did by not using or thinking that we needed to spend money to have fun. Also, with having money saved and paying debt, we don’t live paycheck to paycheck and when an emergency happens we don’t have to stress about where the money is coming from. Thank you for commenting!

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  16. I always loved how as a young woman trying to live within my means that people would try to pressure me into spending more to keep them company in some endeavour (trips, dinners out, their charity drive). Once when I was volunteering my time on the company charity’s committee b/c I could not make a cash donation, the manager that was chairing it said, “just get it taken off your pay monthly in small amounts, so and so who’s JUST (how insulting to secretaries), is doing it!” Actually, admin assistants made more than my position at that time but that wasn’t the point. I asserted that Inwas happy to give my time instead and stayed silent and honestly, I think those that overheard didn’t think much of her. People are ultimately insecure and don’t know how to mind their own business. And if a friend is shaming you into overspending to have company eating out or what have you, they are selfish. Good for you and keep blogging!

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  18. I enjoyed this post. My children are grown now but I remember the days as an stay at home mom of five.. If I did not earn an income I felt it was my job to help stretch the income my husband worked so hard for. You are also teaching your children valuable skills-many of the young adults with credit card debt are the children whose parents “gave them everything”-everything but money management skills! I would bet your children would rather have your time than all the things you could give them.Your children will know how to save for what they want, and how to set realistic finance goals.

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  20. Yes indeed, it is tough when we’re different from others. While in my country frugal is not a trend, it’s the norm. Getting pedicure, eating out, spending money for holiday are for the upper class family only (which is not much). Credit card is not a usual thing here..we usually pay cash most of the time.
    Anyway, your post is great, and you are great!
    Hello from Indonesia..

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