Would You Go To Jail For a Week to Pay Off Your Debts?

According to a survey of 1,911 millennials asked by Acorns, almost 10% of them would! And for only $10,000 of debt clearing too – that’s pretty ballsy.

Of course, that also means 90% of them wouldn’t dare risk it, but that doesn’t make nearly as titillating a blog post ;)

How about you? Would you do it? I asked a similar question last year about taking $1 Million in exchange for a *year* in jail, and just like with that one there’s no way I’d risk it for debt, even if for just a week! I wouldn’t survive a day there.

Interestingly enough, my friends on Twitter had the opposite reaction! Check out this poll I did yesterday, although admittedly I left out the $10k part:

debt jail poll twitter

The message is loud and clear – people really hate their debt! Haha… I hope no reality TV producers are reading this right now, because I’m pretty sure they’d have a hit show on their hands and I REALLY don’t want to see how it would play out in real life ;)

FYI: The company behind this report, Acorns, is a fintech app that specializes in helping people invest more automatically and passively in their lives. Long term readers will know I’ve been using them personally for almost two years now, and so far have just over $600 invested simply from rounding up my spare change. It’s a pretty cool app if you’re needing some help in this department: Acorns.com.

Here were a bunch of other juicy stats from their findings too – I can’t resist not sharing :)

“41% of all millennials admit to spending more on coffee in the past year than they invested in their retirement.

!!!! I like coffee as much as the next person (in fact, I’m literally sitting inside Starbucks right now drinking a cup as I type this), but man does that sound bad when compared like that. If I guestimate my own coffee expenses here real quick I’d say I spend about $40/mo between take out and brewing at home, which comes out to what, almost $500/year? I’d never retire at that rate :(

(Though to give fair credit to the younger gen – I probably would have answered the same thing depending on when I was asked. So there’s always hope for a great turn around!)

“Most [millennials] are willing to give up the chance to meet their favorite celebrity to pay off debt.”

Umm yeah, I would hope so!!! Haha… Unless you could convince your favorite celeb to meet up AND wipe away your debt at the same time? That would be pretty sweet… If I ever get rich and famous, you have my word that I’ll do this for one of you every single year here on the blog ;)

“70% of millennials anticipate an impact in their finances in the next 10 years due to the new political environment.”

I only got one thing to say about this: Ignore it all. YOU are in charge of your money, no one else!!!

“Almost 75% of millennials do not have a monthly budget, and only 60% have a general sense of where their money goes each month.”

Come on, Mills! I want that to stand for Mill-ionaires as much as I do Millennials – y’all gotta up your game! It’s honestly not that hard once you get going. And here’s a secret: once you wrap your head around it you don’t have to continue tracking every last penny anymore! Just get it all figured out first and wean yourself from there.

“More than 80% [of millennials] don’t follow market trends more than once a month.”

acorns news consumption

I’m pretty sure this is supposed to be a bad thing, but GOOD JOB!! Continue ignoring it all – it’s just noise. The media is a business like any other, and all they care about is *views* – not your money. It’s fine to check in here and there and be aware of what’s going on around you (especially if you’re passionate about it AND learning), but PLEASE do your best to focus on what’s in your control vs that which isn’t. Just like with TV in general or Facebook/Twitter/social media – if you catch yourself leaving them feeling worse off than when you got there, it’s highly time for a change!

Okay, that’s all the stats for today. If you want to read the rest of the report, you can check it out here: Acorns Money Matters Report™, or hit up last month’s article on some pretty explosive money stats.

They never get old :)

So remember: track your money, invest more, ignore the noise, and whatever you do – avoid jail at all costs! You can’t even read my blog in there!*

*I’m postulating here since I have “sexy” in the blog name, but why risk it and find out? What would you do without BudgetsAreSexy in your life, can you imagine???

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  1. Mrs. Mad Money Monster | @madmoneymonster January 25, 2017 at 5:28 AM

    Go to jail for a week to pay off debt? Yeah! Where do I sign up? Maybe my conception of jail is skewed from watching too many episodes of Orange is the New Black ;) But I’d say, as long as I knew I wouldn’t be physically harmed, I wouldn’t think twice. Of course, my debts are a primary mortgage and rental mortgage – not just $10k. Still. A week is nothing and I’m shocked only 10% said yes. Hmmmm. Such a fun post first thing this morning. Thanks, J$!

    Mrs. Mad Money Monster

    1. Joe January 25, 2017 at 10:17 AM

      You’re crazy! Jail sucks. I guess a week isn’t bad, but it really depends what kind of jail. I’d say no way to a week in a maximum security prison. Yes, I have mortgages on the rentals and home, but I prefer to pay it off.
      On the other hand, I did picked up a lotto ticket yesterday…

    2. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 11:54 AM

      that’s exactly the problem – no guarantee you’d be safe!

      totally changes the game if you know 100% you’d be just as good – mentally and physically – when you left ;)

  2. The Green Swan January 25, 2017 at 5:46 AM

    I have a decent sized mortgage, getting that paid off would be a big increase to my net worth… Hard to argue it wouldn’t be worth my time to do a week in jail. As long as it’s not a super max security prison! :)

    I suppose if you set it and forget it with index finds it isn’t all bad that you don’t pay attention to trends. But still I can’t go without keeping my eye on the market!

  3. Elle January 25, 2017 at 6:46 AM

    I love reading those survey and seeing the responses. (I also imagine what fun it would be to come up with scenarios like that to present to them)

    I’m curious with the 10% who chose jail – how many would take a program like FPU and follow through for a year to be out of debt? It might not take a week, but they’ll more than likely knock down or off their debt. :)

    1. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 4:07 PM

      you mean people actually have to do WORK to get rid of their loans??? ;)

  4. Go Finance Yourself! January 25, 2017 at 7:11 AM

    I’ll go with no since all I have is my mortgage debt. Maybe in a few years if we buy a new house. So long as it’s not a federal pound me in the *** penitentiary as they said on Office Space.

    Those are some very interesting stats. I’ve read and recently did a post about how the older end of the millennial generation actually saves more, they just don’t have the financial acumen to know where to invest it. Many are invested in cash because they think it’s the best investment. We really need to do a better job of educating younger generations on money. Especially when it comes to taking on debt and investing.

    1. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 4:11 PM

      Hoarding cash isn’t the worst thing in the world! But i agree – if only it was mandatory every one who turns 18 was forced to read personal finance blogs :)

  5. Josh @MoneyBuffalo January 25, 2017 at 7:17 AM

    We are blessed to live in a society that doesn’t have a debtors prison. As my only debt is mortgage debt, you could say I’m already under “house arrest.” :-)

    1. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 4:12 PM


      I visited an old Debtors Prison last year. S-C-A-R-Y.

  6. Band of Savers January 25, 2017 at 7:30 AM

    Hate to break it to you J. but I’d go to jail for a week for $10,000 off my mortgage (assuming that I don’t actually have to do something illegal to deserve to be there). A week would be short enough that I could use vacation time at work and still be getting paid while I’m there. So I’d be like making $11,222 for a week of the lamest vacation ever.

    While I might be a millennial, I’m glad to say that I’m beating the odds of my generation as compared to those in this survey.

    1. Paul @ ABL January 25, 2017 at 10:56 AM

      That would make for the best conversation stopper ever on your return. “So where did you go for vacation?”

    2. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 4:12 PM

      You wouldn’t be afraid of getting shanked??

  7. Full Time Finance January 25, 2017 at 7:31 AM

    If it was a low security prison and it paid off my mortgage, where do I sign up. I normally prefer not sacrificing now for the future but at a week I’d even consider it. Definitely an interesting set of questions but I wonder if their user demographics skew the answers.

  8. Apathy Ends January 25, 2017 at 7:38 AM

    I think I could make it a week, but only for my entire debt balance, 10k wouldn’t be worth it as I imagine the first week is the hardest (is about $60/hr though)

    Coffee > Retirement C’mon Millennials

  9. Yaz January 25, 2017 at 7:49 AM

    Oh man, I think I’d be in the 10% – a week in jail for all my student loans to disappear, hell yeah!

    Maybe I’d want to pick the jail though… :S

    I didn’t find the coffee one as shocking as you – I think it’s not that more millennials put a priority on coffee over retirements – there’s just too much pressure on finding money to last from month to month, year to year, to think about retirement funds at this age!

    1. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 4:15 PM

      True true… but if you have the money for coffee you have the money for ______.

      Just that most people don’t care enough to give up the good stuff :) No way I would have either at that age or now! haha… so in that case we have to earn more to afford it all.

      (back In the day it was beer for me though vs coffee… no matter what was going on financial-wise I always found a way to afford beer :))

  10. Mustard Seed Money January 25, 2017 at 7:50 AM

    Great read! I really don’t think I could do jail for a year, or even for a week for that matter. I value my freedom too much. I think it would also depend on the type of jail, but I digress. Thankful I don’t have any debt, so it wouldn’t help me out at all anyway!

  11. Miss Mazuma January 25, 2017 at 8:01 AM

    I missed the pI’ll but I definitely would have said no…even to a million dollars. I watch Orange is The New Black – I know how creative those girls can get!! ;)

    That statistic with 41% spending more in coffee than retirement is insane!! I mean, I guess I get that feeling invincible fades with age. Thinking you have all the time in the world to start investing later…oh to be young! But I think this FI movement shows that many youngans are wisening up to the reality that the earlier you save the earlier you can retire. We just need to keep spreading the word!!

  12. Mrs. BITA January 25, 2017 at 8:14 AM

    Nope. Nope. Nope. I am a wimp. I would never do it for 10k. I don’t even think I’d do it for my mortgage balance.

    Being GenX is boring. Where are all my interesting stats? I bet my generation could drink coffee all day long and then run naked in the streets and __still_ all we’d ever hear about are millennials or boomers.

    1. Lindy January 25, 2017 at 8:54 AM

      YES! Even in all the “generations at work” seminars I have to sit through as a manager all they ever talk about are the millennials and boomers. I guess we just have to “suck it up buttercup” even though it would be interesting to know more about us GenXers.

    2. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 4:16 PM


      Best. Comment. Ever.

  13. Brian @ debt discipline January 25, 2017 at 8:28 AM

    It is an interesting proposal, but I’d guess I’d have to know a little bit more about the jail. :) If I didn’t have a big pile of debt too, I’d just work on it and skip imprisonment.

    I be up for one of those live in the house in the wood with no internet challenge first.

  14. Sofia January 25, 2017 at 8:38 AM

    Of course, why not? If you think about jail as a job – you could earn $10k in a week, or $1 million in a year – that is a pretty damn good deal.
    Paid per hour, that’s 10000/168= approx. 60$ an hour just for being there. A year has 8760 hours, so that turns into about $114 per hour for being there. And you can utilise that time to read or build other skills.
    I’d definitely consider it.

    1. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 4:17 PM

      and you wouldn’t be worried about losing your life or being forced to do something very very bad?

  15. Bryant January 25, 2017 at 8:41 AM

    Live the blog man! I found you through the podcast and I’m on “jays lat episode” – I’ve been stretching it out because I love your perspective! But a week in jail for no more mortgage? I’d do that i a heartbeat! But no amount of money would be worth a year – i couldn’t imagine just sitting out a year of my life like that, especially missing that time while my daughter is little!

    Keep up the good work!

    1. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 4:19 PM

      Rock on – so glad to hear that man!!

      Feels like ages ago I was doing that, but I guess the power of technology these days keeps things alive and going!

      You’ll have to catch me here or in my $$$$ forums going forward :)

  16. Money Beagle January 25, 2017 at 8:48 AM

    Heck yeah. We only have our mortgage and one small student loan, but for 168 hours in jail, the hourly rate to get those paid off would be over $800 per hour. Even the cheating bastards on Wall Street have to put in some effort to hit those numbers!

  17. Primal Prosperity January 25, 2017 at 8:52 AM

    Only $10k???? That’s crazy! But like you said, at least it was only still 10%, but still. The celebrity thing…. no way. I used to live and work in California and met and even worked for a bunch of celebrities…. overrated….

    I definitely agree with ignoring the facts. There isn’t much we can do about the market and the economy. All we can do is just stay out of debt, save and try to be our best self every day. :)

    I like this concept though as an ‘activity’ for the workshops for youth. I can ask if they would spend a week or a month in jail for $10k and then ask them, how could they ‘hustle’ or save their way to $10k instead?

    1. Primal Prosperity January 25, 2017 at 8:54 AM

      Sorry, I didn’t mean ignore the ‘facts’, I meant to write to ignore the ‘trends’ or the ups and downs of the stock market. :)

      1. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 4:21 PM

        Great idea to incorporate into your new class!!! Would be interesting to hear their answers too depending on their demographics, ya know? To some jail time is as common as riding a bike :(

  18. Steve @ Think Save Retire January 25, 2017 at 9:16 AM

    If we’re talking about a white collar minimum security resort (Office Space style), then I might if my dead was big enough. But, it would take quite a bit of debt for me to consider this.

    Also, I can’t possibly agree any MORE with this statement: “I only got one thing to say about this: Ignore it all. YOU are in charge of your money, no one else!!!”

    Amen, brother! One of the many reasons why I don’t care who the president is. The president isn’t in charge of my money. I am. And I certainly act like it, too! ;)

    1. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 4:25 PM


      …goes to play Jay-Z’s “My President is Black” remix… oh wait :(

  19. Robin Perry January 25, 2017 at 9:21 AM

    This a joke, right?
    Jail is nothing like Orange is the New Black! It’s a serious and terrifying place. No one that knows the reality would ever want to be on the inside, no matter what the “prize” is.
    Prison changes you. Period. You are exposed to a whole new world on the inside. Regardless of how long you’re there, you won’t be the same after. Is that really worth $10,000?
    Polls and articles like these are patronizing the whole corrections system. All to promote an investing app and get more page views with a click-bait title.
    For shame.

    1. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 4:29 PM

      I’m with you!

      no way in hell I’d risk it…

      (and while I know I’m spreading the click bait here, it’s also getting discussions going about $$$ and consequences so for I’m fine with that. it’s hard enough to get people who *care* about money to read articles on it daily, no less those who hate it! ;))

  20. Lindsay @ Notorious D.E.B.T. January 25, 2017 at 9:38 AM

    Wipe away $10,000 for seven days? That’s like getting paid $1,428.57 per day! Plus, you’d SAVE money because your food would be covered and you wouldn’t be tempted to spend your own money!

  21. Piggy January 25, 2017 at 9:44 AM

    I definitely voted to go to jail to wipe out my debt. 7 days to become completely debt free including my mortgage? Orange is the New Black doesn’t look THAT painful…

  22. Mrs. Picky Pincher January 25, 2017 at 9:48 AM

    I would much rather have the debt. If you think about it, debt is already like a prison anyway–but you get to make phone calls and take safer showers.

    Nowwww if I went to jail for a week and it would pay off ALL of my debt, I’d consider that. :)

    1. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 4:30 PM

      True that on debt!

      At least the really bad ones :)

  23. Mike B. January 25, 2017 at 10:10 AM

    Maybe a day, but one week? I don’t have enough debt to make that worth it. I could definitely see this as a reality show though haha

  24. Andrew@LivingRichCheaply January 25, 2017 at 10:26 AM

    Are we talking about maximum security prison or country club one??

    1. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 4:30 PM

      you’ll have to roll the dice and see ;)

  25. Michelle January 25, 2017 at 12:12 PM

    Ha, I love this. For me, it would depend on how much debt I have. One week doesn’t so terribly bad if the debt was large enough, haha. I’m sure I would completely change my mind if the day came though.

  26. Smart Provisions January 25, 2017 at 1:32 PM

    I don’t have this, but I would go to jail for a week to pay off debts depending on the debt size. I would probably say if it’s more than $10,000, then I would probably do it.

  27. Ms. Montana January 25, 2017 at 1:54 PM

    I think the local county jail here is rather nice (although over crowed.) But honestly my first thought was, a whole week away from the 5 kids, work, cleaning and cooking? Hum…I could get a ton of reading and writing done! Nap, exercise, read. Wait, how much are they paying me!!? I mean a cabin in the woods would be nicer. But does that come with $10,000? Now if it were haunted or spooky, then hell no!

    1. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 4:33 PM

      Okay, then for you a cabin in the woods where a murder once took place (!!)

  28. Jax January 25, 2017 at 3:18 PM

    Jail or prison? I worked in a county jail as a librarian. I wouldn’t say that it would be fun to be in jail, but I think I could tough out a week in county jail (especially if I was in a block that got to go to the library that week.) But prison is a different story and I probably wouldn’t do well and wouldn’t want to risk it. But in either case, it would have to be for more than $10,000. My debt is a mortgage and while it would be nice to be mortgage free right now, I’m not sure it’s a worthwhile trade.

    1. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 4:35 PM

      Ooooh fascinating!!!

      I didn’t know there was a difference between jail and prison, but man I bet you have all kinds of stories working out in their library.

      You see a lot of people trying to prove their innocence? What were the most popular books read? Bible?

  29. The Vigilante January 25, 2017 at 5:26 PM

    The coffee stat is my personal favorite. I can attest to most of my friends being a part of that 41%. My wife and I drink tons of coffee, but I’m proud to estimate that we’ve probably paid just north of $150 for the entire year, thanks to Costco, Amazon, coupons, and free work coffee. And most of that $150ish was actually spent as gift cards at Starbucks on road trips…not a bad way to do it :)

  30. Kraken Fireball January 25, 2017 at 6:54 PM

    There is no way I’m spending any time in jail! I think there are much better ways to handle your debt. Much like the Lord of the Rings, paying off your debt is about the journey. If your debt is just wiped by a week in jail, you didn’t learn how to handle money any better. Chances are you will end up in debt again… and then in prison again? Maybe I’m making too many assumptions.
    Regardless, I liked this bit: “once you wrap your head around it you don’t have to continue tracking every last penny anymore! Just get it all figured out first and wean yourself from there.” I know it’s not what the post is about, but it was an ah-ha moment for me, and I learned from it. Thanks for writing this article, as always it’s very educational & entertaining.

    1. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 4:40 PM

      Hey, thanks for letting me know though!

      I think we get SOOOOO caught up in all the “right” ways to do things here on $$$ blogs that it tends to skew our reality for people – including ourselves.

      I used to be adamant that you have to track every penny – or else! – and as I got more mature I realized there are tons of ways to do *everything* and that it’s really those first initial stages of wrapping your head around $$$ that tracking comes into play big-time.

      so def. don’t feel bad or give yourself any $hit if you stop tracking it all yourself! you’ll be fine once you’ve figured it all out!

  31. Fritz @ TheRetirementManifesto January 25, 2017 at 8:50 PM

    “41% of all millennials admit to spending more on coffee in the past year than they invested in their retirement.”

    My 3 letter response: OMG!

    1. J. Money January 26, 2017 at 4:41 PM

      Now you’re talking millennial language :)

  32. ZJ Thorne January 26, 2017 at 9:42 PM

    Women’s prison are terrible, but a much different type of bad than men’s prisons. I would go to prison for a week to remove debt. Absolutely. Would probably go for a year to get a million, too. How many years of my life am I trading in work to receive money?

  33. Millionaire By Forty January 28, 2017 at 2:24 PM

    $10,000 for one week of being in jail? Assuming I wouldn’t lose my job or have a record, the answer is a loud HECK YES.

    One week is 168 hours. $10,000/168 = $59.52 an hour! That’s a heck of a lot to lay low, stay in a room, eat for free, watch some TV, and maybe work out. Heck, I would stay for 10 weeks if it meant paying off all my loans!

    1. J. Money January 29, 2017 at 3:09 PM

      You wouldn’t be worried about your life in any manner?? That’s the part that concerns me… Anyone can easily be bored for a week and get paid tons of money for it, haha…

  34. Freedom 40 Plan January 28, 2017 at 6:59 PM

    I don’t really hate my debt. But if I could eliminate all my mortgage debt ($600k) by spending a week in jail. I think I’d give that some serious consideration!

  35. Machinator January 29, 2017 at 9:02 PM

    This needs to be asked to graduate students fresh out of college. It’d be interesting to see how we weigh the promise of higher future income against paying debt off now.

    As for me. Heck, I’d spend 2 weeks in jail for 10k in debt reduction.