I was having a conversation with a friend the other day, and he was talking about car payments. Specifically, how he had told his son that having a car payment is just part of life – just expect to always have one and then you’d be prepared for it no matter what.
Without even thinking, I said “I used to feel that way too, but now we don’t intend to ever again have a car payment.” When he asked why, I thought about it for a moment, and all I could come up with was “We don’t believe in debt.”
And basically, that is the truth. Debt used to be a very basic part of my life. It was not just a tool I could use to live beyond our immediate needs, it was practically a lifestyle choice. The amount of money people (people meaning banks, credit cards, etc) would lend me to finance my future was a very real consideration in all the choices I made in the here and now.
But through this debt reduction and ultimately elimination journey, at some point I made a very real, concrete change in my brain. Although I am not strictly anti-debt, I don’t believe in debt any more as a fundamental part of my life. I don’t put my faith in the financing of others to create the life that I want to live.
Understanding that debt didn’t actually have to be a part of life has been both a fundamental and incredible realization to make. And although I didn’t realize I was making that shift when it was happening, it is a very real and important and integral part of how I view money and our lives now. We may still have debt, but we don’t necessarily have to take on more. We can make choices that minimize our potential exposure to debt. And hopefully someday, we’ll be in a position where debt as a whole becomes a choice and not a necessity.
This is not to say I think all debt is bad, and that I am 100% anti-debt. But debt is now seen in our lives as something we can consider carefully and make a choice about its usefulness, instead of a necessary part of our existence. And that has made all the difference.