Guest post from Jenn of Hang On Baby, We’re Almost Somewhere
We used to carry debt. Mortgage, credit-card debt, car payment, student loans — we carried all those debts. I never questioned carrying debt, ironically, until we managed to work our way into being debt-free.
“Carrying” debt is aptly named. It feels like a weight, doesn’t it?
Funny how cash in your wallet never feels as heavy as debt. Here’s how debt stealthily weighed us down, and what we’re doing differently by paying cash:
1. Debt is a big fat liar.
Debt tells you that you don’t have enough. Enough money, enough self-discipline, enough reserves to fall back on.
When we reached the happy day without payments due on things we’d bought in the past, we rediscovered that we are a people of plenty. We have enough; we are enough. We can participate in charitable giving happily out of our “enough-ness.”
Our children, like many, squabble over who got more or which was bigger. We answer, “Have you ever found yourself going without? No. We are able to satisfy all your needs. Let’s share this snack/toy/activity thankfully.”
2. Debt undermines your family values.
We’re more vocal with our kids about why we use our money the way we do. It was hard to explain why we had to send a minimum payment so we’d be able to charge more stuff.
It’s easy to say, “We’ve chosen to budget carefully so we can prepare for the future and so we can pass our blessings on to others.” Since we cleared our debt load, our son decided to collect donations for a water well, instead of presents, at his birthday party last year.
3. Debt can make you lazy.
When you already owe more money than you have, sometimes it’s easier to do the convenient thing than the prudent thing. “Just grab take-out for dinner. What’s a few more dollars?”
Now, I don’t want to give our money to other people for services I can provide myself. I cook more, and find that I’m prouder of myself for planning ahead and improving the nutritive value of our meals (i.e., waaaaay fewer French fries).
4. Debt lowers the value of your standard of living.
Now that saving money on the grocery budget doesn’t enable us to pay a credit-card payment, I make it a point to set aside the money that we save through sales and coupons. I actually physically place that money in a separate spot.
I don’t want to see it dissipate in a cloud of fast-food bags or children’s trinkets from the store. No, if I save it, I want to be saving for something good.
We’ve set a goal to buy an original work of art that we truly love and to take a family vacation. Those purchases seemed out of reach, and maybe even undeserved, when we owed money.
In any case, coupons and weekly specials add up quickly. A memorable purchase — with cash — will help us weightlessly celebrate the debt-free life!
Jenn LeBow is a happy wife and mom of four. She’s a native Texan who’s frequently on the move due to her husband’s career, and she loves Jesus and libraries (but can’t possibly set aside the amount of money she saves by reading library books). You can follow Jenn’s train of thought at Hang On Baby, We’re Almost Somewhere.