Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Day Eighteen: Thankful for My Debt

Today's post is going to sound a little crazy and weird, but hear me out.  I know it's not every day you see someone that is thankful for the debt that they're in, but when I really stop and think about it, I am kinda thankful for all the debt I'm in.

About ten years ago, when I was working paycheck to paycheck, trying everything in my power to make a dollar stretch here and there, a bit of credit would have really gone a long way.  But, back then, no reputable companies would give me ANY credit, and the credit I did get I could have really done without.  I had to buy cars from those dealerships that charge exorbitant prices for no credit checks, and then the car would break down before it was paid for and I'd be right back in the hole of buying another car and starting over.  Credit card companies laughed in my face when I tried to apply for a credit card to help me get by.  And if I wanted to buy anything like furniture or appliances, I was hitting up flea markets or yard sales, because unless I wanted to rent-to-own and pay three times what the stuff was worth, nobody was financing that kind of stuff for me.

In hindsight, all of that was probably a good thing.  I mean, I had a hard enough time paying my bills as it was, so adding credit cards or finance payments to that would have been just about impossible.

But, I tell you that one of the highlights of my life was being able to walk on to the grounds of a reputable car dealership, picking out a brand new car, and finding out that I was going to be given the credit to buy it.  A year later, I was able to call up a mortgage company, apply for a loan, and be instantly approved.  Something that completely dumbfounded me.

Here I was with twenty-thousand dollars or so in student debt, and I was being able to buy a brand new car and get a mortgage for a house.  It was weird, but I can't put in to words the satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment it gave me.  I had FINALLY gotten myself to a point in my life where I was "worthy" of those things.  I was making enough money to be considered for credit, a lot of it, and there's no real way to explain that feeling.

When we moved in to our house, I was able to finance brand new furniture for the living room.  Nothing too fancy or expensive, but with all the other move-in costs we had at the time, it was easier to pay it off in installments than coming up with the money all at once.  Plus, I knew I'd pay it off within the year I was given before interest would be charged.  Which I did.

I have a couple of credit cards I have for emergencies, and a couple that I use for items such as groceries and gas.  I use them because I get discounts if I use them, and then I pay off the balance each month.  It actually saves me money to use the credit cards because I can get 10-15 cents off a gallon of gas with my credit card.

But there in lies the second half of why I'm so thankful for the debt that I'm in:  Because even though I'm in a huge amount of debt with the house, the car, and my student loans, all of my bills are paid on time each month, I am able to pay a little extra each month so that it'll be paid off early, and I am not drowning in the debt that I'm in.

Debt can be a very harsh thing.  I've seen it cripple people to their knees, taken them for every penny that comes in to the house, and tear families apart.  Hubby and I have seen some of the nasty affects that money and debt can have on family members, which is why we made ourselves a promise to only take on what we can handle, and never let ourselves get to a point where we're fighting over money.

And that's what we've done.

Hubby and I aren't rich, far from it, but we are comfortable.  We can pay our bills, and still have some money left over to go out for dinner a couple times a month, to rent movies, or go out for some other kind of fun with the kids.  I am able to take my kids to the store and buy them new shoes and clothes when they need it, new athletic gear for all of their sports, and pay the bills associated with dance costumes and such for show choir.  I can afford to take care of my car making sure it gets regular maintenance and oil changes.  If something breaks around the house, we can take care of it because we have money put aside for those types of situations.  And, I'll be able to give my kids a pretty good Christmas this year.

Sure, there are times that I've relied on a couple of credit cards to get me by.  I get paid once a month, so that can be a little daunting making the money stretch that far.  But, if I do have to depend on credit cards for anything, I know I can turn around and pay them off or pay extra than the minimum payment each month.

I know there are people out there that think debt and credit are HORRIBLE things.  If you don't have the money to afford something, you shouldn't buy it.  I know.  I used to be one of those people.  I had that mindset that I wanted absolutely nothing to do with loans, credit, or financing.  But, then I found out that if I wanted to finish college, I was going to have to cough up $25,000 or get student loans. That kinda made me realize that getting in to some kind of debt was inevitable.  Then, when I was so sick and tired of going through used cars because they would only last as long as the note on them, I realized I had to cough up about $18,000 for a car with a warranty, or I'd have to finance it.  OK, so the warranty may not last as long as I'm paying for the car, but a 100,000 mile warranty is MUCH better than I've ever had.  Then, I realized if I wanted to get out of the dump my family was living in, I either had to option of pouring more and more money in to the rent pit, come up with $125,000 to pay cash for a house, or get a mortgage.

I guess what I'm saying here is that some debt is inevitable.  There is no way I'd EVERY raise enough money to pay for those things.  But, I can rest at night knowing that even though I had to borrow money to make those things happen, I can pay those bills each month and not feel like I'm drowning in a never ending sea of debt that is taking every single penny that I earn away from me.

So, today, as crazy as it sounds, I am thankful for my debt.  I'm thankful that I can afford to make the payments on all of that debt.  And I'm thankful that I have been able to experience the hardships associated with not having two dollars to rub together, so that I can be more careful and cautious of how I use the credit that I now have.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone!


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