Debt Culture

Tam has a great post up about this picture:

Robb also is talking about it:

If either of my daughters takes a picture like the one posted at Tam’s, I’ve failed as a father, unless the dollar amounts were $0.

We’re teaching both of the girls that debt is not something to take on lightly. I’m not 100% against debt no matter how ‘Dave Ramsey’ I get from time to time. The problem is we go in debt for stupid shit like a new TV, a fancier cellphone, clothes, etc.

I have a mortgage, and a car payment (ok not really on that one, its 0% interest, and we have the money that pays the monthly dues, I’ll earn interest while this car depreciates! Its the last return I’ll ever see from it!) but overall I, and my wife have lead a very anti-debt life.

I got my first credit card when I was 17, and was instructed by my father to NEVER charge for anything my bank account couldn’t back up. For all my Dad’s “Progressive” leanings he’s VERY fiscally conservative with HIS money. Before he went in for Knee replacement surgery, his fellow teachers gave him a gift of a picture of him holding fistful of dollar bills from a school dance with the caption “How much for a Knee?” and his perennial quote that I guess the teachers heard as much as I did growing up “If you can’t buy it with cash, you can’t afford it!”

Back when Deval Patrick got elected governor there was a lot of talk of gun bans, so I made a few panic buys of some guns that were on my wish-list and their future purchase was dubious. I ended up letting one of the guns I bought ride on my credit card for a single month. ONE MONTH, and I was mortified that I had to do that. I couldn’t buy that with cash, so I really couldn’t afford it. Of course I paid it off with the interest of IIRC $17, but that’s not how I like to roll.

I don’t remember what that gun was, I think it was whatever I bought after I got my SKS, which I payed for with a stack of $20s. I do know I had just spent my fun-money when I saw my Beretta 21A at the gun shop. I actually walked out of the shop, knowing that this is not an “approved” pistol, so its not like I can just ORDER one from the factory, or that you see them very often in the rack. I didn’t have the cash to buy it, so I couldn’t afford it. I ended up calling the shop the next morning as soon as they opened (I actually called twice since the first time nobody was there to answer the phone) and had them hold it for me. I paid off most of it that month and the rest the following.

The fact that this little snowflake has $17,000 in credit card dept, likely all frivolous crap she didn’t need, obviously didn’t have the cash for. Hey but MAGIC MONEY! I mean you swipe the card and they give you shit! Its YOURS right?

Hell I even gulp when I say that I own my house. Technically I own it, I pay taxes on the damn thing, and I LIVE here, and we’re easily making the monthly payments, but still the bank has the title.

My wife got buried with some credit card debt in her first year of college. Her Mom bailed her out with the stern statement that it would be the very LAST time she did such a thing. My wife, unlike me, has NEVER carried a balance since.

Like Robb, if my daughter EVER posts a picture like this, or a lament about being buried in BS debt I will have failed as a father!

This entry was posted in Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Debt Culture

  1. bluesun says:

    The only time I’ve ever carried some balance over on my credit card was one time I forgot to pay it on time (got to it an hour past the cutoff, darn it). Oops.

    • Weerd Beard says:

      Did they forgive the late payment? I’ve found a credit card bill a few times and paid it late, every time I called and told them the full amount was in the mail, they forgave the late charges. I think they give you two or three forgivens a year.

  2. Archer says:

    We have a mortgage, a car loan, and my student loans. Except for the mortgage – which anyone who wants a house and is not independently wealthy will have – we could conceivably pay them off out of savings at any time. We’d be cleaned out, but it could be done.

    Fiscally, that might be the smarter move in terms of not paying interest, but we prefer paying the interest (they’re both fairly low interest rates) and keeping the savings account over losing the safety net it provides. YMMV. 🙂

    • Weerd Beard says:

      I went to a cheap state school, and between working summers, and the money I’d been saving my whole life to that point, plus some sound investments by said fiscally responsible father, I paid for my sheepskin in cash. Still even that was a lesson in fiscal responsibility. When I was college shopping I had a girlfriend who was a lunatic for applying to colleges. I think she dropped around $500 on college application fees! Just the application fees. She was just nuts about the idea of this university and that. I knew I wanted to get a degree in Marine Biology, but I really wasn’t sold that the various colleges were very different. She prattled on about this place had a good program, and that place was crap, and this university was amazing, and that one was crap.

      I talked to my Dad, and he said “We’ve been saving money your whole life so you can go to college. You can go to an inexpensive school and pay with cash, or your can go to an expensive one and deal with the loans. I applied to exactly one school and got my acceptance letter 11 days later. I also kept in touch with said GF and I must say I think I did a whole lot better in the career department! I married better too! 😉

      My wife did take out some loans, and we just paid them off.

      • Archer says:

        I got an Associates from our local community college after high school, then worked. I went back to school and just finished my BS less than two years ago. My wife and I carefully weighed the pros and cons of going back to school, and knew going in that we’d be able to afford the payments after graduation. We also decided to sell our second car and make do with one, to free up that cash in our budget (that payment was almost as much as the student loan payment, so we’re almost better off now). We just used our tax return to completely pay of a portion of the loans, too, which lowers the monthly payment by just that much.

        The point isn’t a “who has less debt” contest. The point is that we responsible folks carefully plan for what we want and make it happen without defaulting on our commitments or struggling under an insurmountable mountain of debt.

    • Robb Allen says:

      Technically, you have no safety net at all. Having $1000 in the bank but $2000 of debt is still ‘in the hole’. But don’t worry, while we were getting out of debt, my wife couldn’t accept it either and we had credit debt 🙂

      A better way to look at it though is “If I pay everything off, we technically have more money than before (0 > -1) and we can keep the credit cards around for a bit to provide security”.

      Regardless, pay ’em off. Don’t put any more on ’em. Then store ’em in a sock drawer and forget they exist or cut ’em up. I have more money now than I ever did without changing my income.

  3. AZRon says:

    My old man was born in 1912. He’d seen the effects of WW1, lived through the depression, and enlisted in WW2. My earliest memories of him are that he was never home. Ma set me straight with the knowledge that pop was working for our future. (still, even one Tigers game would have been nice) He worked two full-time jobs until the mid-’60’s. At that time he bought the (very small) company that he was employed at, and continued to work two full-time jobs.

    Pops’ favorite saying was either “put down that GD guitar and get a job”, or “if you can’t pay cash, you can’t afford it”.

    Years later, it was with mixed feelings that I told my father about my first house. Hell, I was a responsible, hard working young married man by then, and was proud to be doing the “right” thing. He asked if I had a mortgage, and I answered in the affirmative. I noticed a bit of “stink-eye” at my response.

    That mortgage ended with an amicable divorce, and another long move.

    Three years later, and single, I offered on another property. The loan was approved the same week that my father died. Keeping his spirit in mind, I paid it off in 5 years and 2 months.

    From there, what used to be a mortgage payment, went into investments. No, I’m not wealthy, and my house would be considered a hovel by many, but I am not a victim of the worst kind of slavery…debt.

    In totality, I’ve had three financial debts in my life. 2 houses and 1 vehicle (paid off in 5 months) I think pop would give me a break.

    I understand that some people seek higher education (whatever that means), but if you’re willing to go into a lifetime of debt to get a degree in prepuce post-coital transjaggit gender studies, you might want to consider whether there is a paying demand in the real world.

    Personally, I’ll stick with pops’ advice.

  4. Tam says:

    Dad said a lot of stuff that went in one ear and out the other. I’d give you some examples, but it went in one ear and out the other.

    What did stick with me was (and I’m sure after all these years this is a paraphrase) “Never borrow money for a depreciating asset,” or its variant “Never pay money to lose money.”

    It’s meant a life of, among other things, junky used cars, but they’ve been my junky cars, dammit.

  5. Goober says:

    The worst thing is that it can be done without debt. These kids have this idea that they wouldn’t have been able to go to college or whatever if it weren’t for taking on that debt load.

    It simply isn’t true. I graduated from college in 2002 with zero debt.

    Granted, college was not the “fun and games” time for me. Most guys look back at college and think “man, that was the best time of my life.”

    You couldn’t pay me to go back. If you offered me a million bucks, I wouldn’t do it again. I pulled 30 credit semesters and still worked 30 to 40 hours a week at the local lumber yard, living in a shithole apartment with two other guys (and later, my wife) so I could keep expenses down and afford to pay tuition every semester.

    I walked out the other side bone tired and wore out, but I was debt free, meaning I had freedoms and options at that point that most of my compatriots did not have.

    How much do you want to bet that college was just a long string of parties to cupcake up there? That she’s one of those that says “man, college was a lot of fun!” and means it.

  6. Scott_sw says:

    Total debt (120k house + 25k jeep + 40k for car) 185k total.

    Things I will never borrow for: better furniture, any consumer good and any home improvement project.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *