I still owe on student loans from my undergraduate school, and I recently bought a house. The mortgage is overwhelming, but it was in important investment in my long term, overall future. I felt that at my age and with the current real estate conditions, it was a sensible move if I wanted to stay in the city.
I have a full-time job at a small museum, which almost pays all my bills. I supplement that with small sales, grants, and I even ran a successful Kickstarter. I can't count on any of that side income though, and I try not to but working for an art non-profit in a large city where the cost of living goes up every year means that I am always squeaking by.
I try not to let debt affect my practice, but years of doing large-scale projects and big works have caught up with me, and now I have had to scale back for a while. As funding is so intermittent, I have decided to focus on works on paper and small sculpture for a while and wait to do another large project/show till I have caught up financially. I never think of myself primarily as a sculptor or installation artist but as an artist who is flexible in terms of skill and materials. This flexibility in terms of practice is important to someone in my position. I have recently had to give up my large studio in an industrial space to work at home, and it makes me worry about my future practice, but it was unavoidable.