What were my issues with debt books? I’ve often felt that debt self-help books are condescending, implying that most of us are in debt primarily because we spend recklessly, charging up credit cards on things we can’t afford.

They also involve budgets. Apparently, the answer to our debt problems involves endless amounts of expense tracking and a hyper-awareness to every incoming and outgoing cent. The books seem to imply that if we give up cable or daily cappuccinos our debt will disappear. For six-figure student loan debt, such advice is absurd.

For a while, though, I believed it. I downloaded countless iPhone apps, freaking out if I forgot to log my salad at work or a taxi fare. I second-guessed everything that involved spending money: Did I really need soy milk in my cappuccino? Heat? Dry cleaning? Breakfast? I adopted the motto, “If one must buy something, one must buy the cheapest version humanly possible.” I sold every possession I didn’t need on eBay or Craigslist. I stopped eating healthy food, having a gym membership, and seeing movies in the theatre. I was miserable.

The debt books promised my misery would last only a short time—until my debt was paid off. Only a few more years, right?

At the rate I was going, with the $1,600 of interest that accumulated every month, I would be living this way for about another thirteen years. The thought of doing that made me want to kill myself. I don’t mean that in the funny, melodramatic sense. I actually thought things were so bad, there was no end in sight, and I didn’t see the point of living anymore. I had worked hard all my life, and for what? There was nothing to show for it. I actually felt as though all of my dreams were out of reach, I would never be able to do what I loved, and I would be a prisoner to working jobs I completely hated forever, mainly because of this debt.

And so I decided to put together my own thoughts on debt. And somehow this has evolved into a book called Buy the Avocado Toast: How to Crush Student Debt, Make More Money, and Live Your Best Life.

Let me be clear: I did not want to write a book. I work 12-hour days, have a relationship, an active social life, and a variety of interests. I enjoy healthy cooking and getting exercise. Just writing a preface required me to get up at 4:30 a.m. for half a month and give up my weekends. I’m not an author, nor a debt expert, nor a financial advisor. I am just a person who had a particular set of experiences that might be able to help other people in six-figure student loan debt

I took the time to write about these experiences because none of the other debt books I read seemed to offer solutions for me, a person with excessively high student loan debt. I wrote a book to give hope to my fellow student-loan debtors.

I promise you, you can, like me, transition from a life of suffering and shame to one of comfort and hope.

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