No debt is good: aim for a debt-free life
Did you know that you are being disappointed? Right now, everywhere. On TV. In the newspaper. On the radio. In magazines. You’re getting the same message over and over: “buy now, pay later”; “consolidate your debt into one easy monthly payment”; “get a secure line of credit”. Or the perennial favorite, “don’t worry, it’s good debt.”
The truth is that there is no such thing as well debt. Debt is debt. It is money that you owe someone, money that you must pay back at some point in the future. “Good debt” is a misnomer. there is best debt, of course, because there are also Very bad debt. But debt is never good. Not really.
We live in an indebted society. We are encouraged to buy things on credit all the time. Why? Because it is a profitable business for lenders. They are not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. They are in this to make money, and their goal is you.
Of course, it is difficult to live completely without debt. To buy a house these days you almost always need some sort of mortgage, this much is true: few people can afford a house in full, especially early in their careers and families. But you don’t have to be in debt for the rest of your life. A mortgage is meant to be a temporary debt, backed by the (normally) stable value of the property you bought with it. It must be for a reasonable and affordable amount that can be repaid within 10 to 20 years of purchase. And you must have some of your own equity in the house from the start. But that’s not what people do anymore. They get mortgages for 100% of the appraised value of the house. Worse yet, they get sole interest mortgages that leave the principal, the amount you borrowed, intact. Is it any wonder these people eventually find themselves drowning in debt?
But it goes beyond mortgages. A debt mentality pervades our society. Once you have equity in your home, for example, banks encourage you to “unlock” the money with home equity loans and secured lines of credit. Use the money to improve your life, they say, by renovating the house, taking that big vacation you’ve always wanted, or, here it comes, consolidating your other debt.
Your other debt? Safe. Do you think the only debt people have is mortgage debt? No, they have many other debts. It’s a banker’s wet dream these days… Lines of credit. Cash advance. Overdraft coverage. Automatic credit card limit increases. Don’t pay anything now. If you’re not careful, you can rack up a lot of debt very quickly.
And that’s the problem: those debts have to be paid at some point. Rack up too much debt and soon you’ll be worried about monthly payments. Your peace of mind will be affected, and possibly other things like your marriage and your job. Is that the kind of price you’re willing to pay to have things you couldn’t otherwise afford?
The solution is not debt relief or debt consolidation. It is debt evasion. You must do everything in your power to avoid debt. Because too much debt will bring you down, physically and mentally.
What if you already have a lot of debt? There are things you can do. Yes, you can consider consolidating debt, but that will only work if you can stop accumulating more debt once your current payments are reduced. Otherwise, you should attack your debt using a step-by-step plan that involves paying off the highest-interest debt as quickly as possible, then using the money you free up from that debt payment to pay off the next highest debt, and so we. It’s the snowball debt reduction method, and it works.
The key to all of this is willpower. Make the commitment today to be debt free as soon as possible. The peace of mind it gives you will make it all worth it in the end.