Tuesday, February 10, 2009

THE D-WORD: DEBT

Earlier my husband and I were talking about the d-word....No, not divorce, that has never been an option to even think about, less much discuss. No, I'm talking about the other d-word: debt.

I had seen a plasma t.v. and made a joke saying that we should buy it. My husband laughed and said "Yeah, like we would ever do that." You see, our old tube-type t.v. (how's that for a technical word) is still working just fine, and it doesn't need replacing. We just really don't do upgrades.

We started talking about our earlier years, when we had credit card debt. Back in the day when we lived differently than we do now. When we made different decisions than we do now. When we could "afford" to use our credit card. When we made some poor choices, and "paid" for it later, in more ways than one.

We never were extreme in any one area. We charged some clothes, but never a whole new wardrobe all at once. We never charged a whole roomful of furniture. We charged a vacation (after several years of marriage we felt we deserved one!). We financed cars, not new, but still we had to make payments on them. We had some car repairs. We charged Christmas. We charged meals. We didn't plan, we didn't have a budget. We never got into a huge mass of debt but for us, it was scary.

We never gave a lot of thought to charging. It was before kids so we were both working and figured the money was there. We used our credit card as if it were cash in the bank.

I do think what they say about instant gratification is true. It's so nice and easy to just whip out that credit card and get what you want. And wow, you can even get your payments deferred for awhile with some purchases! Wow, what a "deal."

It is so easy to spend plastic. It is so easy for me to walk into a store and use my debit card instead of cash. And it's so easy to spend more money that way. Don't have cash? Hey, whip out the debit card. Woohoo! "Free" money!

At the beginning of our marriage we had an agreement that we would never spend more than $100 without talking to one another about it first. We both had to agree to the purchase. That kept us accountable. We couldn't do things like buy a new car, an expensive coat or a motorcycle (like an ex-coworker's husband did and let me tell you, she wasn't pleased) without the other person knowing and agreeing. Now, with me being home and the kids and all, we wouldn't spend anywhere near that amount without talking about it first.

We felt like we could "afford" to use our credit card because we weren't to concerned about paying it off. After all, we were just buying that one $30 thing....right? It's not like we couldn't afford the $30. Well, after one to many of those our credit card bill started going up. Then a few car repairs went on it. We took a "much-deserved" vacation. More debt.

Pretty soon, we had more debt than we could reasonably pay off that month. That's when it all starts. You can't pay your debt off that month, but you're not worried because you can make the monthly minimum payment, right?

It's a trap, people, to view our purchases that way. To view using a credit card as if it's the same as cash. To view something you can't afford and say that it's o.k. because you can afford the minimum payment. That's how you get into trouble. That's how we got into trouble.

I know alot of people do it, we've done it, and if you are comfortable living that way then please do not take offense at my words. They are just meant to encourage you and provoke thought, not offense.

If you're feeling a little uncomfortable with your debt, even if you can afford the monthly payments, then perhaps you might want to consider not putting anything on credit for awhile (even if you really, really want it). Don't buy the item and apply that money to your debt instead. You're not going to get out of debt if you keep adding to it.

The next time you're tempted to put something on credit, ask yourself how long it will take you to pay it off. Ask yourself what you want more, that item or to be debt free. Maybe it won't be worth buying after all.

10 comments:

  1. We are strictly debit people here!! ;0

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  2. We've got the old-type television, too. No cable. No satellite. We used the coupons and got two boxes for the digital TV transition. Those extra couple of channels are plenty. Glad to see that we aren't the only family out there with one of those "antique" TV sets. LOL

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  3. Great post! It is so easy to get caught up in "keeping up with the Joneses" and just buying what we want. Dh and I have been really trying to stay away from that in the last year or so. We ended up being able to take our CHRISTmas trip with money we saved. We are hoping to pay off a mortgage debt and car debt by hopefully early next year.

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  4. We pay our credit card off at the end of each month, but as you said it would be easy to be tempted to do otherwise. We too have an old tv....Floor model about 30 years old and still works great...if its not broke we dont need a new one. Blessings on your journey!! Andrea
    http://arise2write.blogspot.com
    http://andrealuvsallgodscreatures.blogspot.com

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  5. I ate up your words. I cannot read enough reaffirming words like this! Unfortunately, we used our credit cards quite a bit in the past. We don't use them at all now but it is going to take a while to crawl out of the whole we dug for ourselves.

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  6. Great advice! We have a credit card, but we don't use it. We only use our debit card and we watch our bank statements each month!

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  7. Amen, amen and more amens!

    We have a 2 credit cards that we do not use...one is American Express that has to be paid off at the end of each month and the other just for emergencies. We don't charge on either one of them anymore...but I do like the security that they give to know that if you HAD to for an emergency...it is there. I pray we never have those situations that would require us to use them. I would use it before I couldn't feed my family but anything less than that extreme...NO!

    We have the old kind of tvs and a new one too. My hubby is a big tv addict. As hard as he works and never asks for anything in return...I couldn't say "no". It was worth the investment we made to see how proud he is of his new tv. Great deal and on sale too. We looked at them for 2 years before we broke down and bought one. Actually, we bought it after our old tv went out...we went 6 months and didn't turn it off...if you did...you had to beat it and slam your hand into the side of it to get it to give you a picture back :-)

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  8. Great post! We stopped using a cc a few years ago. We always paid it off every month but we would overspend and then not save as much. It was the best thing we ever did. We have saved so much money over the past few years... just because it hurts to pay with cash so I don't buy things!
    Toni
    http://thehappyhousewife.com

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  9. Oh the deep dissatisfaction of buying things on credit cards!

    I have to constantly tell myself, "Patience, Patience..."

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