why debt stinks every windfall is already spoken for

April 21st, 2008

Why Debt Stinks: Every Windfall Is Already Spoken For

I’m starting a new randomly-appearing series of posts about reasons I hate debt, debt drives me crazy, or basically, why debt stinks. This doesn’t apply to every kind of debt, or every person’s own situation. These are reasons why the debt in my life, in a word, stinks. You might see your own situation in a few of them, or at least, be entertained.

I remember when receiving money I wasn’t expecting used to excite me. It always seemed like there were limitless possibilities for what I could do with the windfall, no matter how large or small. It didn’t matter if I ultimately was “responsible” with the money and saved it, or I spent it on something frivolous, the point was, I felt I had a world of choices open to me.

Now, when a windfall comes into our lives, it already has an assignment. Beat down the debt. The debt needs to go. All dollars diverted to this purpose. Which is not to say that the idea of extra money isn’t exciting, or that I don’t appreciate it. And watching the debt total go steadily down has its own level of excitement and reward. But it isn’t the same. The wonder is gone. The world of possibilities have closed themselves to a single point. This came into sharp focus for me when, last December, my spouse was given a small portion of money that my father-in-law inherited from my spouse’s uncle. $1000 is a lot of money for us to receive at one time, no strings attached. For a moment a number of things rushed into my head, but the realization that we needed to put it towards our credit card debt really immediately squashed all those other ideas. The progress that we made on the credit card with that windfall was satisfying and I am happy with our decision, but it takes a little bit of the unadulterated pleasure out of the whole “found money” thing.

I know that there will be people who respond to this with “take a portion of the windfall and live possibilities with it” and that is a good suggestion, but it ultimately gives me more satisfaction to use it all to pay down debt.  And I can’t trick my brain into thinking I might do something else with it first.  I try, but it ignores me.  ;)

Someday, not too far in the future I hope, unexpected money will open itself to a world of possibilities again.  And even though, in the end, I might still end up making the boring “responsible” choices with most of them, I know the magic will be there like it used to be.  We all need a little bit of hopeful magic once in a while.  And saving choices, although they may seem boring on the surface, are still much more exciting than handing it over to Citibank or Sallie Mae.

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14 Responses to “Why Debt Stinks: Every Windfall Is Already Spoken For”

  1. I have been working hard on being frugal and building up investments over the last 5 years and more recently concentrating on paing off my mortgage. I am now so use dto paying all of my spare cash into an invetment or off the mortgage, that I still get the same buzz when I get some extra money because I know I can getsome of my debt paid off. I have found that I no longer think of posessions that I want etc. Perhaps it is a state of mond which grows on you.

  2. I hear you. We are expecting a work bonus in May & it’s going to the student loans. It’s not very fun.

  3. Put it toward the debt! We started throwing every cent toward debt and now only have a small equity line and ummmmm a boat, to pay off. No car payments, credit cards or anything. Without any extra cash, everything but the house will be paid off Dec. 31. The feeling you get is so worth tossing the windfalls at the debt. Good luck, I really enjoy your blog!

  4. This is just so true, I’ve got a pay rise coming in May & my annual bonus at work in June, all of which will be used to pay down my debts. *sigh*

    I could have gone to Europe with that money if I didn’t have the debts to deal with first.

  5. I have the next six paychecks planned out. Even if they’re not windfalls, debt still sucks. I’m sure you all know exactly what I’m talking about – I would LOVE to take a week off work and go somewhere, but instead, I’m working and I’ll keep working until my debts are done with.

  6. I think that is a wise move. it seems to me you really already spent that windfall previously (which is why you now use it to pay off a debt). I must admit I do like not having any debt other than mortgage debt. Instead of just paying off what you already are using it is nice to have the bank account go up and then you can think about what you want to use it for after you have it.

    Learning these lessons early can make all the difference.

  7. The debt I have for an educational loan I took out over 5 years ago for a specialized school that was needed for my teen granddaughter stood at over $45,000 when she left the school! I inherited some money, quite a bit, and paid down as much as I could of the debt after putting some of the money into retirement for me. It would have been nice to spend it on other things, but I don’t want my family to be paying off my debt down the line.

    My debt stands now at about $25,000…I still have along way to go!

  8. It’s true, there’s so much more in life to be excited about. The good thing is that you’ll still be young when you pay it off in a few years and because you’re working so hard, you’ll be able to enjoy windfalls more in the future…even if you use part to snowflake your savings. :)

  9. I hear ya. I’m pretty new at it, but knowing that all extra money is spent before I receive it is a little of a downer. But it’ll make the payoff even sweeter in the end, good luck!

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