Johnny was the All-American boy. He was smart, good looking, athletic, and seemed to be well-liked by everyone. When he graduated from high school, he was accepted into an Ivy League school. His teachers and parents were proud of Johnny, and he didn’t want to let them down.
After four years, he graduated and was told by many people that his future was bright because he had an education from such a prestigious school. As luck would have it, he was hired by a company, not because of what he knew, but because of the name of the school on his diploma.
Within a short time, Johnny realized that he didn’t like the career path that he was on. The people that he worked with were good to him, and Johnny liked them, but he knew he would be miserable if he stayed.
One night, by chance, Johnny was introduced to a great opportunity. It was his chance to start his own business, but he didn’t have the money and no one would loan him money outside of the few credit cards he had. He had to find a way. Johnny didn’t want to be rich, he just wanted to be free.
Johnny presented his idea to people he knew, and finally someone was willing to co-sign on a loan to help Johnny. With great excitement, he went with his friend to the bank, and walked away with a check for $30,000 to start the business.
He knew the business would take time to start turning a profit, so he was frugal, and only used $20,000 of the $30,000. He planned to use the other $10,000 to make the payments on the loan and pay the rent for the retail space he had rented. This, he thought, would buy him a few months until the cash flow from the business started paying the loan back.
The space was leased. The location was good, but he needed inventory to sell, so he used the credit cards to buy the inventory. What he didn’t know was that this excitement would turn into 20 years of hell.
Within 6 months, he was out of money, but he knew he could be successful. Heck, he had to be successful because his friend’s name was on the first loan.
A year later, it was obvious. The business was going to fail. His original debt of $30,000 had ballooned to almost $100,000 and he couldn’t file bankruptcy for two reasons. Johnny’s friend was on the hook for $30k and he had always been taught to do what’s right. He borrowed the money, so he had to pay it back.
Dead broke and probably clinically depressed, Johnny was approached by a business man. The business man didn’t know how broke Johnny was, but he knew that Johnny had a great personality and a degree from a prestigious university. This man asked Johnny join his company. Heck, no one knew the misery Johnny was in because he was always smiling in public.
Johnny accepted the opportunity from the business man. Within a few years, Johnny was finally experiencing some success. He didn’t really like the business, and there were some things that he questioned, but he was finally making money.
Soon, Johnny was paying off his debts. One year, he had almost all of the debt paid off, then he got his tax bill. Almost debt free, Johnny had no money left to pay taxes and was forced to borrow again to pay dear old Uncle Sam. The sum was large enough that he was right back where he started, and the cycle would continue for several years.
Then, something happened. Johnny became extremely leery of the business. He saw things that he just couldn’t be a part of. He had to walk away or become something or someone that he didn’t want to be. Johnny tried telling people what was going on, but no one would listen, and finally, he walked away, but Uncle Sam did not!
For the next several years, Johnny scraped by. He still smiled in public, but inside, he was dying. By this time he had a wife and kids. Johnny was scared. He wanted to talk to someone about the debt but he didn’t because he felt like a failure and a loser. Publicly, no one knew.
Johnny would wake up in the middle of the night. His heart was pounding because he loved his wife and kids, and his worst nightmare was that they would have to suffer because of him. They didn’t deserve that.
Again, he wanted to talk to someone but he felt like no one cared. Whenever he talked about debt to some of them, they would say things like, “they did it to themselves” or “they made their bed, they can sleep in it.” He smiled, and wondered if they knew they were talking about him.
Finally, one night when he was all alone. He was crying as he walked through the house looking at the kids and wife that he loved so much, and thought, “they would be so much better off without me.” He thought, “with the money from my life insurance policy, they can start over, and have no debt.” He was tired and didn’t feel like he could fight any more. So, he pulled the trigger!
People didn’t understand. Johnny was always smiling. He would do anything he could to help other people. Johnny had so much to live for.
Some were more critical. They called him selfish. Maybe he was. What they didn’t see was that he had become hopeless and alone. Alone, yet surrounded by people.
If you made it this far, thank you. The story of Johnny is fiction. Unfortunately there are millions of Johnnys around us. Johnny could be you. Johnny could be me.
Today, we have millions of kids falling into this trap through student loans. They are making decisions at 18 that will haunt many of them for the rest of their lives. They saw a great opportunity through education, yet college was too expensive for them or their parents to pay for out of pocket. So, they borrowed!
Forty Four million Americans share $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. It’s almost impossible to discharge in bankruptcy, and many of their parents are on the hook if they can’t pay. Sadly, some have become Johnny.
My hope and prayer is that through this mission, millions of these people will be reached. They already know the hell that the debt is putting them through. What they may not know is that as long as debt is used to go to college and it’s easy to get, the cost will continue to rise. Government is not their friend either. In fact, they made the problem worse!
Then, we join forces to start eliminating as much student loan debt as possible, and through education, we will learn to stop borrowing money for college, and if enough people do this, the schools will be forced to lower tuition or go out of business.