I hear so much about debt in this country and, truth be told, I’m puzzled. I don’t understand how anyone can put themselves into the massive amounts of consumer debt this country is known for. It seems to me that debt is the main dream killer in our country.
I get that sometimes the debt is beyond someone’s control. Even a minor medical crisis can put one in debt for the rest of their lives in the USA. Sometimes taking out loans for university in order to pursue one’s passion makes sense. A reasonable loan to buy a small house isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It also isn’t unreasonable to use personal loans to make improvements to that small house. All in moderation, right?
But I hear over and over again about the massive credit card debt the average American carries and I’m dumbfounded each time I hear it. The average credit card debt per household in America is $15,956.
It seems to me that carrying that debt means that you’re paying for yesterday’s dream at the expense of what you want to do today. Debt kills dreams.
And that doesn’t make sense to me.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you up front that I’ve never been in debt. I did graduate from college with a small amount of student loans, but they were offered through a special program to entice Special Ed teachers and were completely forgiven after five years of teaching Special Ed. That’s it. That’s the only debt I’ve ever had.
Every car I ever bought was paid for with cash. Every article of clothing or piece of furniture for my house I paid for with money I already had. My bikes, my vacuum cleaner, my blender – all paid up front. Every house I’ve owned was paid for with cash. Granted, we’ve chosen to live in Boise where housing prices are reasonable – our houses did not cost half a million dollars.
And yet John and I were both school teachers. Teaching is not exactly known as the highest paying profession in America ((insert sarcastic voice here)).
I can’t help but feel that if two school teachers can live debt free, then you can too. It’s all about setting priorities and spending wisely.
Do you really need a brand new $50,000 car or would an older used one get you to work and back?
Is that 3,000-sq-foot home necessary or can you live in something smaller?
What about that couch in the living room? Does it need to be replaced now or can you wait until you have the money saved up?
Is that shirt or those shoes worth going into debt for?
Are you paying for yesterday’s dreams?
I look at our life right now and I realize that the reason we are free to live the way we are is because of the freedom we have to spend our money as we choose today. We’re not paying for choices we made last month or last year. We’re paying for what we want to do today.
Every penny of our income now can be spent on today’s dream.
I’m not a financial guru and don’t claim to be qualified to provide financial advice. But still, common sense tells me that paying for yesterday’s dream isn’t a good idea. If that’s what you’re doing, get yourself out of debt. Then you’ll be able to breathe life into your dream.