Brittney Reynolds accrued $36,227 in credit card debt due to careless spending, she said.
After finally hitting a "breaking point," she asked her parents to move back in to focus on paying it off.
Her journey has gone viral on TikTok, and she's using the moment to minimize "shame" about debt.
A 28-year-old California brand marketer has gone viral and gained roughly ten thousand TikTok followers in one month after deciding to document her journey of climbing out of $36,227 in credit card debt.
In August, Brittney Reynolds made the tough call to move back in with her parents — from the Bay Area to Temecula, California — to accelerate the mission. It's been isolating and thrown her life into something of a "limbo," she told Insider, although she's grateful to her parents and encouraged to see her balances plummeting.
And while she doesn't have friends in town, she's found community on TikTok, she said, where thousands tune in to her daily financial updates, rooting for her to defeat her debt. On September 18, she shared her first video about her journey to 1.1 million viewers.
"We're setting goals," she said. "Ideally, we're going to meet them; sometimes we won't — it's fine."
Reynolds told Insider the sum didn't accrue in "one moment" but "slowly kept accumulating" over the past six to eight years — specifically, after she was approved for a Chase credit card. "I had no business having a $19,000 credit line at 22," she said.
Her biggest poisons? Splurges on Airbnb solo travel, a $4,100 Joybird couch, and a glitzy skincare routine, as well as an excess of tattoos and food deliveries. "As far as overspending, I just really didn't care," Reynolds told Insider. "I didn't think about the long-term impact."
Rent also added up. Earlier this year, Reynolds moved in with her partner in the Bay Area, who shortly thereafter lost her job. Reynolds became primarily responsible for their $2,770 rent, which she said became an unsustainable sum on her $88,000 salary.
The two ultimately broke up, and Reynolds said the dissolution of their relationship was the "breaking point" that led her to phone her mom and ask to move back home. "I don't want to enter into my 30s feeling this way," she remembers thinking.
'I've never seen the numbers drop this quickly,' she said about her diminishing debt
Since posting her first viral video, followers have resonated with Reynolds' vulnerability.
"Im on this journey too and I can't explain how comforting it is to hear other people going through this again," one viewer wrote. "We got this!"
"Can we start like a support group or something cause i need daily encouragement 😭😭," another shared. "Started with 17k. Down to 10k but won't be done until like July."
Reynolds also breaks down her paychecks on TikTok, aiming to allocate roughly $3,500 to $4,000 per month to her credit cards from roughly $5,000 in monthly take-home pay. Her debts are spread across the aforementioned Chase card as well as two Wells Fargo accounts.
Since August, she's seen the numbers drop from $36,227 to $29,000, according to a tally that she's now sharing uber-publicly on her TikTok bio. Her most recent paycheck breakdown was posted on Halloween.
"I've never seen the numbers drop this quickly," she said. Her credit score has also risen from 609 in her first video to 634 in her most recent update.
Reynolds allocates roughly $700 per month to expenses like groceries, her phone bill, and car insurance — and $300 to savings, she told Insider. She's even started making money on TikTok, which goes into the savings pile, too. She aims to move to her own place in Los Angeles by next summer after her debts are completely cleared.
And while financial advice is a hot topic on TikTok, Reynolds said she sees her content as different from resident experts, including Caleb Hammer and Dave Ramsey, whose content she believes can lack empathy. "Not everyone needs that slap-you-in-the-face wake-up call," she said. "People want you to just be a human."
And if she's provided support and inspiration to viewers, they're returning it in kind.
"It's very isolating to live here," Reynolds said, "so it's nice to have that sense of community and understanding and helping people work through that shame and debt trauma."
Correction: November 3, 2023 — An earlier version of this story misstated the share of rent Brittney Reynolds paid while living with her partner in the Bay Area. She became primarily responsible for paying their rent but was not solely responsible.
Read the original article on Insider