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Editor’s Note

When I started my freshman year at DU 18 years ago, I wasn’t concerned about debt. I was just happy to be going to college at a good school. So what if I would graduate with some student loans? I saw them as an investment in my future.

By the time I headed to graduate school, I was beginning to worry about debt — I had credit card debt and a car payment in addition to my undergraduate loans. Still, the investment argument won the day. Really, I had no choice but to take out loans if I wanted an advanced degree.

When I pay off my student loans in about 20 more years, I will have paid more than $100,000 in principal and interest. Do I regret taking out those loans? Not at all.

I still see them as an investment — simply part of the upwardly mobile, professional American lifestyle, just like the house payment and the 401(k).

What I do regret is spending so freely with credit cards. Two years ago, my husband and I realized that we were making no progress on clearing the credit card debt we’d racked up in college and that we were still likely to be buried when we reached retirement age. So we enlisted the help of a “financial fitness” professional who prodded and coached and sometimes even shamed us into better spending behavior. I’m pleased to say that after two years of hard work, we’re about to zero the balance on our credit cards for the first time in nearly 20 years.

If only my debt epiphany had come a decade or two sooner.

Be sure to read our feature article about debt. It includes some wonderful tips for students and their parents to help avoid the debt trap that has snared so many Americans.

I hope it helps.

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