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.