Hi, I’m paidtwice, and I’m in debt.
But of course, you all know that. However, sometimes I feel like my life is like that, defined by my debt progress and my current state of past payoff. I’m in “debt recovery” and I keep working and working at it but the possibility of future debt looms over me at every turn. There’s debt that I can choose to avoid – like purchasing luxury items beyond my means, not taking extravagant vacations, and the like, but there is also debt that feels unavoidable. The balance between being prepared for an emergency and paying down our existing debt is a tough one, and if I choose to save too little in order to make more progress on our debt, it could backfire and I could instead end up in more debt. This has already happened once in our debt reduction journey, when the engine in our Saturn self-destructed and we didn’t have the entire $3600 required to fix it. We did bounce back from that pretty quickly, but a bigger emergency (or a string of significant ones) could easily place us back into more debt.
And then there are our cars. This is the “future debt” I have been purposely not thinking about but I know, when I am honest with myself, is probably the most likely reality. The wheres and the whys aren’t important, but the fact of the matter is, the likelihood of one of our cars becoming inoperable before we have enough money saved to replace it is pretty high. I hope that isn’t the case, and both cars last another 6-8 years at least, but it isn’t very likely (especially given the track record of one of the aforementioned cars).
But for today, I have made a decision. Debt does not define me. I may be in debt, and I may be in more debt in the future, if we are not able to pay for a car in cash when the time comes to replace one. My goal is debt freedom, and I will do anything I can reasonably do to achieve it. But if for some reason, we enter into more debt – that will be okay. We will work to rid ourselves of it, and we will not take on any additional debt lightly. But I refuse to let the idea of future debt make me feel like a failure. We have come a long way, and although we still have a lot further to go, the road is a long one and there isn’t an easy solution. It isn’t possible to save for every possibility and make any progress at all on our debt. Because I know for sure that I don’t still want to be paying off my undergraduate student loans in 2017 (the current estimated payoff according to Sallie Mae).
Debt does not define me – past, present, or future. And the possibility of future debt will not completely derail our present progress. All we can do is make informed decisions, weigh risk and reward, and plan a course of action. And then – move forward with a balance of considered risks vs possible reward that we are most comfortable with.
Repeat it with me. Debt does not define me. Action does.