why debt stinks it can take a lot longer to get out than it did to get in

July 29th, 2008

Why Debt Stinks: It Can Take a Lot Longer to Get Out Than It Did To Get In

Things are good for us right now, there is no denying that.  We’ve paid off an enormous amount of debt in the past year, I’ve been able to turn some of my hobbies and talents into viable sources of income, and our family is in a much less precarious position than it was when I started this blog a year ago June.

But as we come to a final decision of disability insurance, and I look at the very real possibility of an electrical upgrade sooner rather than later, and also start making calls for someone to come look at the porch post we discovered had a gutter leaking onto it and has begun to rot, I again, in my head, bemoan the fact that we still have debt hanging over our head that makes every monetary decision we make just a little more complicated.  It isn’t that we haven’t learned from our past mistakes – we definitely have.  I actually understand now the importance of saving money just because versus the idea of always having a plan for the money.   I know that we need to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.  But the reality of our remaining debt (including our mortgage, which I don’t even touch on here) makes our financial position just a little more precarious than we’d like, and also slows down our preparation for what might be.  It just takes a lot longer to fix the situation than it took to learn the lesson.

Things have definitely improved for us.  I don’t get a sick feeling immediately in the pit of my stomach when I discover something we’ll need to fix or spend money on.  Well, sometimes I still do, but it isn’t my inevitable immediate reaction.  But the reality is, it could happen all over again. My spouse could lose his job, we have little resources right now to combat that long term, we might have to turn to credit cards, and we could be back in the same place we were 4 years ago.  At some point, we’ll be more prepared, but we have to finish fixing the mess we made first.

This process takes time. There isn’t an easy solution.  And hence, debt stinks.  ;)

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15 Responses to “Why Debt Stinks: It Can Take a Lot Longer to Get Out Than It Did To Get In”

  1. I know what you mean about it being easy to get back in debt again. It can take a long time pay off debt, but when a house repair needs to take place, you can find yourself right back in debt. My wife and I try to build our emergency fund, but it is definitely an uphill battle.

  2. i feel the same way. i’m just so eager to pay off the credit cards, but then my husband’s car died. and then i needed new tires for my car. and we had to take a 2000 mile road trip for my brother’s wedding. and now i need to buy school uniforms for my kids.

    BUT: i haven’t used credit cards for any of the above. we’ve shopped around and made good decisions on our purchases. and we’ve tried to make the smart decision rather than just the cheapest one. so our lives really have changed in that we are really thinking about how we spend our money. i’m sure that’s the case for you too.

  3. What you mention is life for most of us…anything can happen at any time to change your life circumstances. It has happened to me more than once in my lifetime. The answer is to be flexible enough to adapt and reinvent yourself each time to move ahead, no matter what the circumstance. Be prepared, as you are, but also know that you are strong enough to handle whatever life brings your way.

  4. Jinger – It is life, but my point is that excessive debt makes one inherently less prepared to deal with the curveballs life throws at you. That doesn’t mean that one can’t deal with them even when in debt, but debt makes things just that bit (or more) more difficult.

  5. Reminds me of when one is trying to lose weight: takes longer to get rid of than it took to gain–ALSO that the best bet is slow and steady by learning new habits, rather than a “crash diet” that works in the short run, but really changes nothing if you haven’t changed the underlying behavior!

  6. Life rarely waits for an opportune time to wing it’s curve balls. The same thing happens to me all the time – I’m sure it happens to us all. It is really frustrating when you’re on the debt reduction mission though. I live for the milestones now. Its all about paying the next card off or reaching the next magic number. When that process gets interrupted b/c of something unexpected it drives me insane. At least it does at first… Then I start thinking about how much better off I am now then I was just six months ago. What is a minor setback today was a major crises not too long ago. That’s what the whole reduction / debt-free living is all about. The curve balls will continue to come – at least now I have a chance at hitting some of them back.

  7. Thank you! I’ve been feeling so discouraged for exactly the same reason that it is nice to know that others are going through the same journey. You always sound so upbeat that I wonder why I can’t be the same way. I am just trying to keep us on track until December and prove to my husband that is effort is worthwhile. Not always easy! Thanks for the honesty!

  8. I hate debt, but most of the time find myself in it. With the way our economy is going these days, it is getting harder and harder to make ends meet. That is where MR. Credit Card comes into play. I honestly thing that it is a struggle to get out once you get in and that most people who get into debt never get out.

    It is quite sad.

  9. Ever since I started building an emergency fund, I think, “But what if I have to spend that money?!?” Then I realize, it’ll be a lot easier to “pay back” my emergency fund than it will be to pay off a credit card!

  10. Your blog is inspirational. I am just starting out on the journey to become debt free. It seems like a goal so very far away, but I know with hard work and determination it is not impossible.

  11. Kev – I love that – “The curve balls will continue to come – at least now I have a chance at hitting some of them back.” Must. Develop. That. Into. A. Post.

  12. Of all the things that seems to stink the most, having to pay people to be able to pay for things that you need is probably the most stinkiest of stinkies. Luckily, I haven’t had a big debt problem or any life circumstances that required me to get into debt to survive – but I still cringe when I hear about stuff like that happening.

  13. This blog and your posts are a tribute to you and your family well done and keep going! It is very easy to fall into debt these days I remember earning pretty much exactly what I needed to pay the mortgage, my bills and buy food – there was no additional money left over. Now, thankfully I’ve moved away from this by reducing my debts.

  14. There’s another reason debt stinks – abusive credit card practices! And right now we have an opportunity to curtail some of those practices….

    URGENT…. Credit Card Reform bill is now under consideration at the Federal Reserve Board – Docket No. R-1314

    We only have until August 4th to speak on passing these reforms. The proposed new rules include:

    Stop companies from hiking interest rates on existing balances (unless you pay 30 days late).

    Stop them from applying your monthly payment to low-interest debt first.
    Give you time between the bill and the due date so you can always pay on time.

    Stop interest charges on debts paid off the previous month.

    The credit card companies are going to be fighting this with everything they’ve got; the more of us that support the bill, the better the chances of it passing.

    People can take action:

    Visit creditcardreform dot org, a Web site maintained by Consumers Union, and tell your story in the box provided. (Consumers Union is the organization that publishes Consumer Reports.) This website also contains links to a page with more info.

    Visit the Federal Reserve’s comment site and scroll down to “Regulation AA – Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices (R-1314).”

    E-mail: regs dot comments at federalreserve dot gov, and type “Docket No. R-1314″ in the subject line.

    Send a fax to 202-452-3819 or 202-452-3102, with “Docket No. R-1314″ at the top of your letter.

    Send a letter by snail mail to Jennifer J. Johnson, Secretary, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 20th St. and Constitution Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20551. Again, include “Docket No. R-1314″ on the top of your letter.

    Your comments and support must arrive by Agust 4th to be heard and read.

    PLEASE ACT!!!! Don’t let credit card companies and their execs continue to get rich while too many average consumers are wondering whether they can afford to pay for housing, food and fuel.

  15. Yea, usury used to be illegal as well as immoral.
    When some states realized the Feds weren’t going to police these businesses, they revoked their usury laws and encouraged credit card companies to locate in their states. THAT’s why South Dakota, among others, has so many credit card companies located there.