In the 46th edition of our Best of the Best Blogger series, I was stoked to get an opportunity to sit down with Mr. H from Make Love, Not Debt.
(For those of you who don’t know, the founders of Make Love, Not Debt blog anonymously under their pen names, Mr. H and Mrs. H (Him & Her). Mrs. H is currently on a blogging hiatus, which means that Mr. H is running the show. However, that doesn’t mean that Mrs. H doesn’t have any effect on what happens on the blog. Mrs. H will be making a guest appearance in this interview.)
The H’s story started with their first official blog post for Make Love, Not Debt back in 2006, launching their self-described “relationship finance blog” in an effort to chronicle both their personal and financial journey. Residing in Chicago, the married couple has managed to trudge their way through repayment of a considerable amount of debt, including both student loans and credit card debt. While a big chunk of student loan debt still remains, they did manage to pay down all of their credit card debt in just under a 2 year period.
In many ways, the financial stories of both Mr. and Mrs. H prior to their marriage is very typical of how young people get hamstrung by debt so early on in life. As a college undergraduate, Mr. H. quickly fell into the credit card debt trap with excessive discretionary purchases on fast food, electronics gear, clothes and, uh-hum, a few beers here and there. Fast forward to graduate school and Mr. H found himself making just the minimum payments on a grand total of 6 credit cards (that’s right, six credit cards!). He managed to consolidate all of his high interest card balances with a credit union loan but, when all was said and done, Mr. H walked away from graduate school saddled with the same amount of credit card debt that he finished undergraduate school with – $5K.
Mrs. H also got quickly got sucked into the credit card debt trap after acquiring her first card at the ripe old age of 18. With a minimum wage job and Dolce & Gabbana tastes, she quickly found herself eyeball deep in debt. Adding to her $17,000 in credit card debt was a staggering amount of student loans (more than $140,000). One day when her student loan payments came due, Ms. H panicked, confessing her dire situation to her then boyfriend, Mr. H. Desperate, she quickly jumped into “debt repayment mode” which had a profound effect on her life. When she finally hit rock bottom financially, she realized that she had to “change every aspect of [her] life” in order to save herself.
Mr. and Mrs. H have come a long way since 2006 but their debt is no longer the center of their universe and nowhere near as overwhelming as it had been just 5 years ago. They’ve turned their attention now to higher quality “problems”, such as buying a new home, saving for retirement and picking out varietal specific wine glasses.
We sat down with H & H recently to talk about retirement contributions, financial dirty laundry and power saws, among other things.
MakeLoveNotDebt.com is a personal finance blog, which is a notoriously challenging subject matter for most couples… that seems like a pretty daunting task. How do you find the right balance to express your own individual financial opinion but staying on message with a single voice for the blog? Do your opinions ever diverge?
Student loan debt seems to be a consistently hot topic these days. Knowing what you know now about student loans, is there anything you would change about your college experience? Community college? Different major?
You’ve both experienced challenges with credit card debt in the past. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from climbing out of such a deep credit card debt hole?
Do you have any favorites for personal finance bloggers (besides MLND)?
What’s your stance on credit cards? Useful if used correctly? Or the root of all evil?
What are you most grateful for about your blogging experience with MakeLoveNotDebt?
I’d like to thank Mr. and Mrs. H for spending time with us. Thank you for your candor and your willingness to talk so openly about what always seems to be such difficult subject matter for couples. Cheers!