What was I going to do about a $25,000 debt?

By this time, my parents knew about my cards; my father had already bailed me out several times for my monthly minimums and had done his fair share of yelling. But they eventually washed their hands of helping me, because I ignored their warnings, and, frankly, it was not their responsibility to help me if I was too foolish to realize what I had done.

Even then, I defended myself: I'm an English major! Numbers are not my thing! Credit card companies are liars! But really, the only person lying to me was me.

It wasn't until it came time to start making payments on my college loans that I knew I was in serious trouble. I was in debt to the credit card companies, and I was in debt to the University of New Hampshire for a hefty sum, too. (Don't let debt get the best of you. Start working on it today with LearnVest's free Get Out of Debt Boot Camp!)

I moved back into my parents' house and tried to come up with a game plan. That plan? I was going to finally move to New York City to be a writer!

"You're not going anywhere," said my father. "You're going to get a job here, fix this mess, save up, and then you can do whatever you want with the rest of your life."

"But I can't be a writer in New Hampshire!" I protested.

"You should have thought of that when you were blowing money left and right."

How I decided to file bankruptcy

After graduation, I got a job in the admissions office at a local college. It didn't cut it financially, even if I was living rent-free at my parents' house.

So I decided to file for bankruptcy.

A friend of the family suggested the idea. The friend, who worked in finance, explained that there was no way I was going to get ahead, moneywise, if I didn't try to wipe clean the slate of my youthful mistakes, and start anew.

Initially, I was completely against bankruptcy, as were my parents.

But the debt had gotten so out of control I'd have to start making well over $100,000 right away -- while still living with my parents -- just to get even with the credit card companies. That was without even thinking about dealing with my student loans!

After the judge approved the bankruptcy, I walked away with a clean slate . . . and the inability to have credit cards for the next seven years. It seemed like a fair deal considering what I had done. I felt relieved that the weight of debt had been lifted and embarrassed that it had come to that point.

10 years later: What I'm doing now

Looking back, I see clearly both the irresponsibility and selfishness of my actions. I believed my parents would bail me out, as they always had, and just kept taking and taking.

A few years after moving to New York City, I applied for a credit card again. Surprisingly, I got it. Before I could get into the same mess again, I bought a couple of things, paid the balance off immediately and cut up the card. The only credit card I have in my wallet these days is a Bloomingdale's card with a very low minimum that I keep just in case I want to treat myself to something small.

It's been 10 years since I filed for bankruptcy, and although I'd like to be able to say I learned a lesson about money, that would be a bit of a lie.

I did learn that when it comes to money I am, for lack of a better word, an idiot. I have yet to discern the meaning between need and want.

However, as someone who is now completely aware of this, I do make a valiant effort to be wary of how I spend my funds. I make sure bills are tackled first, groceries second, savings third, and only then will I indulge in things I want but don't technically need. Apparently, people don't need more than 30 pairs of shoes. And sadly, for me that has been the most difficult lesson to learn.

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