A few years ago, a 27-year-old listener we're calling Tessa was about $19,000 in credit card debt. An unexpected windfall helped them pay most of it off in one fell swoop. But even then, they weren't sure it would stick. "I'm worried that I am going to mess this up and end up exactly where I was before," Tessa told me they were thinking then. "And that is what happened. It ballooned back up to 16 [thousand] in less than a year."
Tessa's been keeping all of this a secret from their family and friends. But a few weeks ago, they decided to reach out to their older sister for help. "She's a really great point in her career," Tessa told me. "She's really financially savvy." But before Tessa could even ask their sister to borrow money—she offered to pay it all off for them. But instead of it feeling like a relief, Tessa told me, "I just felt like I really failed."
I talk with Tessa and their sister, who we're calling Rose, about how they eventually made the decision for Tessa to file for bankruptcy—and the ways that talking about money more openly together has led to some unexpected questions and answers about Tessa's spending habits.
If you're struggling with consumer debt, check out these resources.