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Collin’s Story, Part 1: Me Vs. $40K of Credit Card Debt

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Collin holding wallet with credit cards

Let’s talk about finances. Yes, like really open up & have an honest conversation!

I think I felt some of you wince as you read that sentence. It is just so uncomfortable (or cringy as my kids would say!) to bring up money in any conversation. I mean, most people I know would rather talk about their sex life than chat about their income or expenses.

But not talking about our finances can leave us feeling alone and alienated, especially when struggling to stay afloat. Did you know that the U.S. credit card debt figure is at an all-time high of $870 million?! So if you’re having a hard time with debt, you’re certainly not alone.

That’s why we’re starting a new series on Hip2Save to bring our money struggles to light, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel at first.

As some of you may know, I have my fair share of stories to tell that apply to my issues with spending. But after years and years of work and teaching myself new habits, I’ve been able to turn them around for the better (I mean, I did start a frugal living website after all 😂).

Today, I’m starting with how my money troubles all began. Buckle up, because we’re in for a rocky rollercoaster ride. 


Growing up, I struggled in school to fit in.

One of my most vivid memories of elementary school is the day I literally tried to run away from school. Every day, my sisters and I walked to school together and this particular day was no different. However, as soon as we arrived at school, I had the horrible realization that I had left my glasses at home.

Clearly, this was not a big deal in terms of my vision as I was able to walk to school without any issues but it was a HUGE deal for me on a personal level as these glasses had become my entire identity. Without my glasses (and also my hair being pulled into a ponytail), there was no way I was going to face that classroom of first graders. Side note – my older sister was able to contact my mom who graciously dropped off my glasses so I could go on with my day.

I still have that one day ingrained in my memory. Looking back, it seems like such a little thing, but knowing I still remember that day so clearly makes me realize that it was much more then forgetting my glasses. It was the story of a little girl who didn’t feel comfortable in her skin, who felt out of place, and who could hide it all with her magical glasses. Those glasses were her safety net.

I also learned early on that I had a learning disability and had to work that much harder to keep up with my peers. Homework and tests were a constant struggle and remained this way my entire school career. Each class, each math problem, each homework assignment built up doubt inside of me.

At 10 years old, I witnessed my parents divorce and my dad move all the way across the country. A few years after that, I moved with my mom and sisters from Houston, TX to Boise, ID. We moved to Boise not knowing a soul. I think for my mom it was a way for her to begin again and start a fresh, new life. I am forever grateful for that move. Although at the time, that wasn’t the case.

As a teen, my self-doubt led to low self-esteem, which led to self-medicating with drugs in an attempt to escape my problems. I almost didn’t graduate high school.


Then at 19 years old, I got pregnant.


In case it’s not clear, it was not a planned pregnancy. As I watched all my friends apply to colleges and shop for their dorm rooms, I was filling out a baby registry and stocking up on diapers… oh and watching endless hours of A Baby Story on TLC. That show and eating bowls of Kraft mac & cheese were my sanctuary.

I also began to start stressing about the financial hardships that would inevitably start popping up down the road. As many of you already know, having a baby is expensive, especially when you don’t know the first thing about finances.

Reflecting on this monumental moment in life, I want to express that even with the uncertainty and apprehension filling me up, I was able to give birth to a healthy, beautiful, and amazing baby boy who stole my whole heart. It’s pretty incredible how joy can still wash over you during milestones like this, regardless of all the other emotions I felt until that point.


Then my fears and toxic thoughts eventually returned, and I developed an eating disorder.

In an effort to regain control of my life, I turned to my relationship with food, specifically filling up on what I loved and then purging afterward, also known as bulimia. I was ruining my body from the inside out, but what, when and how I ate felt like the only area in my life that I could completely control. Bulimia became my best friend.

I isolated myself from friends and family. I climbed deeper into my hole of depression. Every single day the vicious cycle of addiction would begin again. This was my life.

Along with the physical and mental damage, I was also creating a financial strain on my life. Binging on huge amounts of food is not frugal. On top of that, my desire to keep up with the Joneses (and give the perception that I had it all) led me to fall deeper and deeper into debt. I thought if we wore all the expensive stuff and drove the nice car that somehow my life would magically feel good – oh, how wrong I was.


To stay afloat, I opened a credit card account.

hand holding fan of credit cards

And then another one, and another one after that, then store credit cards were filling up my wallet. I was very good at coming up with reasons why it made sense to have THAT many credit cards. Oh how good I was at filling my head with excuses.

Before I knew it, I had acquired $40,000 in just credit card debt alone—and that doesn’t even include my car loan or mortgage. That didn’t stop the shopping. In addition to bulimia being a huge part of my daily life, the other thing that kept me numb and disconnected from the reality of my problems was shopping. Oh, how I loved to shop.

If $40k seems like a scary number, that’s because it is. I had never imagined my spending would spiral so far out of control! The hole I was digging got deeper and deeper, and the vicious cycle continued.

Collin beat herself up, then Collin escaped reality with her BFF bulimia and second runner up shopping.

This went on for years.

In the midst of this numb life I was living, I got pregnant again and was blessed with another sweet baby boy. I thought my life would change and get so much better – hello, I had two healthy boys and a supportive husband.

What is wrong with you Collin? Why aren’t you filled with happiness and joy? I was so good at pretending on the outside – making it seem I was living this fantastic life. But the truth was that I continued to dig deep and isolate myself from the world. My eating disorder was my life.

And then at my lowest, pregnant with my third child and recognizing that my credit card debt and depression didn’t have much room to get lower, I hit rock bottom.

Stay tuned for part 2…

Join The Discussion

Comments 246

  1. Rachel

    We love you Collin! Thanks to you and your team I am staying in the frugal zone. I can’t deny that I have a home debt to pay off but you all here on hip2save with your daily deals help make my life so much easier. Especially the Christmas deals. I should probably start preparing for Christmas like …now lol.

  2. Heidi

    Thanks for sharing what must be difficult to talk about!

  3. Carol Maloney

    Collin,
    You are such an inspiration and a beautiful person inside and out. You have impacted so many lives in a positive way. I appreciate all of your tips and the fun you’ve shared with your videos. Your story clearly will be of help to so many.

    Thank you so much –
    Carol

  4. justme

    I’ve been with you now for over 7 years! You are amazing and so inspiring to share your story with us! I’ve come to the conclusion in life that no one escapes life unscathed. You’ve turned your story into an inspiration for us all. You are always paying it forward and I want you to know you have helped me and my family so much while we’ve gone thru our own tragedies. Truly a blessing!

  5. maysee

    I love you Collin!!! You’re my hero!!!!

  6. Allison

    Collin, thank you so much for sharing! You truly are an inspiration to me and so many! You are awesome in how you care for your readers! Thank you for working so hard to have such an amazing site! Hip2Save is so incredible and has helped me so much with things that wouldn’t have been possible! Thank you so much for being you!

  7. Janet

    Collin,

    You are an inspiration to us all! I have followed your site from the very beginning. So glad that you have found happiness & success.

  8. Kim T

    Collin!!! Thank you for sharing ALL you life stories with us. You make us all feel like we can get our lives under control, whatever it takes. I will say, I too struggle with everything you described today. It’s a daily effort not to shop to make myself ‘feel good’ temporarily. After reading this article just now, I closed every other window I had open, trying to convince myself of why I NEEDED another pair of puma’s I don’t wear; Or more clothes I”ll never even look at it after being delivered to my house.

    Thank you,

  9. Adrienne

    Collin, You are exactly what we need in this world! Your honesty will touch so many lives and help them to make positive changes. I too have followed you for years through good times and bad. You silly videos always bring a smile to me.

  10. Martina Morton

    Thank you for sharing your story. That was very brave, cant wait for part 2. Amazing what you have overcome and how much you help others.

  11. dashofnutmeg

    Thanks for sharing! I’m so ready for part 2!!!

  12. KittyCat

    Thanks for sharing!

  13. Judy Trac @ Lipscomb

    I actually read all of this. I got so much debt for pharmacy school and this makes me feel better lol

  14. Wanda

    You are awesome! Thanks for the transparency. Many want the world to only see the good things in our lives!

    This truth will help others be genuine with the hard stuff!

  15. Jourdan

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful piece of your heart. I can’t wait to hear the rest of it.

  16. Sue

    OMG I can’t believe you were ever overweight. You are so thin and look great. Thank you for sharing this and look forward to part two.

  17. Adriana

    Omg thanks for sharing, si im waiting for the second part, how you did it and how you started your business h2s?, very interesting 🤔😊😚

  18. John Henderson

    Hey folks for anybody struggling with any Financial issues whether it’s debt, mortgages, taxes, retirement planning budgeting Etc you may have access to free financial consultations through you or your spouse’s Employee Assistance Plan. Many employers provide this service free of charge to their employees but employees are not always aware of it. The service is generally telephonic counseling on any Financial topic that is free of charge to you and the counselors generally don’t sell any Financial product so you don’t have to worry about getting a sales pitch plus it is confidential and no information is shared with the employer. The best way to find out if you have the service available is check with you or your spouses employer human resources department and ask them if they have any employee assistance plan financial counseling benefit. When I was managing the employee assistance program at my former employer I was always shocked more employees didn’t use it as they had access to certified financial planners, tax specialists, mortgage experts, credit specialists, etc. free of charge so if you have the benefit definitely use it to get a better understanding of what paths you might be able to take to solve your financial challenge

  19. Gly

    Thank you!! Your story resonated so much with me. We’re on same boat and I, too, got pregnant at 19. I appreciate you sharing your story and I can’t wait for part 2. I knew there was a reason why I’ve been a hip2saver for many many years now.

  20. KORMOM

    You are a beautiful writer with great ideas and sharing this story is very brave. But, also will be helpful to many. The pictures of you with your grandmother and children are really precious. You definitely have good people in your life. I love this blog. Thanks for this and all of your posts. God Bless.

  21. Amy

    Thank you for sharing … such an important topic that no one likes talking about. Thank you for bringing it to light.

  22. Sally

    I have been followed Collin before this site starts. The blogs site that got shutdown, it’s over 10 years. I remember you had talk about this on the old site. I am so happy to see Hip2Save growing up and going strong.

  23. Mae

    I’m sure it’s not easy to be so vulnerable and open about the struggles you’ve faced, especially with so many strangers. I can say that I enjoy the person that you are and love watching your bubbly, silly personality on FB Lives. (And you save my family LOTS of money… woo hoo!) I’m so glad you’ve overcome those demons in your life & I’ll pray for you to always know your self worth! God bless you and everyone on the H2S team! <3

  24. Wadav

    Thanks for sharing what must be difficult to talk about!

  25. Jeffy

    I love these stories, they are 100% relatable. I’m 25 and have been following your blog since I was 18 <3 I'm so glad your journey has taken you where it has. Collin, your seriously my hero <3 <3 <3

  26. jpalexva

    Thank you for sharing your difficult story. I, too, went through credit cards debt, and mine was $60K! I was in my early 20’s and single and just graduated from college. My problem was not necessarily shopping but getting advance cash from ATMs – I did this because I did not have any money, and my salary from my job barely covered my rent. I counted coins for gasoline for my car. I signed up for a debt back-payment program. It took several years at hundred of dollars a month but I made it. I did not want to file for bankruptcy. I am now debt free. Trust me, what was definitely a lesson learned, and I don’t plant to go back to that situation again! NEVER. BTW, thank you for having this website. It is the first thing I look at every day. I don’t shop just for the sake of shopping. I find where I can save money. You have been a tremendous help!!! God bless you!

  27. Jessica

    Thank you so much for sharing. I thought I was the only one. I am a compulsive eater and shopper and we are in major debt as well as I weigh more than I ever have in my life. It’s shameful and so frustrating. Knowing there are others out there is helpful.

  28. M.Powell

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  29. Melissa Drechsel

    Wow Colin! I can’t imagine the amount of courage it took to share all of this! It was incredible brave of you to be so vulnerable. So many people will benefit from your transparency and be inspired by your story!!!

  30. lynsharp

    Collin,
    Your life looks like a fairytale. You are living the dream. I would have never guessed even you had your share of problems. People often think they just don’t measure up to those who seem to have it all together. Thank you for letting us know that we are not alone. It makes us feel like there is hope for the rest of us. God bless you.

  31. Sarah

    I always appreciate when you come out with personal information like this. There is something about you that just clicks with me, like if I met you in person we’d spend hours talking!

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