I have a friend who does pretty well for herself, but lives a frugal life in order to pay off as quickly as possible her student debt. People around her don’t seem to understand what her rush is: “You would be missing out on a tax break.” “Minimum payments all the way.” “Invest your money and grow it!” First off, do you know anyone who spends just because they can get a tax break? Who lives for anything related to taxes? Minimum payments can let you get by but the interests that come with it will eat you alive. Finally, investing would require minimum payments, which per the former statement, will cost you in interest.
Credit has an upside: it can facilitate so much. For some, like my friend, it can be an education. For others, like me, it can be a house. It can be a lifeline for those in dire straights. Yet it has so many downsides when you keep it in your pocket. Credit hypnotizes you into thinking that you have greater purchasing power than you do. It tells you that you can get that coveted life now, and worry about paying it later. It makes you believe that you will be able to cover that bill down the road. It fools you to think that it is only a small portion of your life, when it is already taking more than you bargained for.
The idea being sold is absolutely berserk because neither you, nor I, nor anyone on Earth, for that matter, have control of tomorrow. The year 2020 is a perfect testament to it. Who would have thought that this year would have held so much pain for the world? Our income is not secure, and above that tomorrow is not secure either. You don’t want to make the mistake of tying down your tomorrow today. Every time you dip into tomorrow’s paycheck, tomorrow’s possibilities shrink. You already feel tight today; is that how you want to continue to feel tomorrow? You might make more money, but do you think that your hunger for more will go away with it? Quite the opposite, lifestyle creep (higher income leads to higher expenses) will be right behind you, introducing you to cheeses you’ve never heard before, vacation packages only for the elite and a five-bedroom house with enough square footage for a small business. More money won’t solve the problem because it has slowly revealed itself as a matter of the heart.
What credit is selling you is not a cute top, but the idea that you are desirable. A nice car is not what you are paying for, but the thought that you have made it. Why are you going outside of your financial means? For many it is because they are trying to meet emotional needs. Flirting with materialism and style in order to feel important, accomplished, or loved, will not end into a stable, long-term relationship. Recognition and stuff won’t make you happy because the true issues cannot be bought out by money. You can hear it from celebrities themselves by searching “celebrities on being unhappy” on YouTube.
We can all easily fall into the trap of believing what other people show, as their complete reality. Ads and social media only show a blip out of a day out of a whole life, and we let our minds wander into thinking that it is the norm for those people. It is just a moment that someone is deciding to share with you. The things of true value in life don’t have a price tag (see related post here) and we know it but choose to not believe it. We get many comforts from financial stability. Debt because we are stable is not one of them.
Credit not only makes you spend money you don’t have, but it encourages you to live in an alternate reality. Today is a gift. We might not want to open it because it has been a tough year, but we are still fortunate to have it. Don’t tap into fleeting happiness that can tie up your future. Acknowledge today what your expectations in life are, and work to unravel your thoughts and beliefs. Remember that your value is not determined by things.