Thoughts about Staying out of Debt and a Cute Story About My Parents

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may remember when I decided to stop wasting money on splurge buys. Well, I haven’t always been able to keep my resolve on that one. Sometimes you’re at Costco and it’s really cold and you realize that you left all your jackets at your parents’ house and there are really cute jackets there so you just buy one (and then you feel justified because you wear it almost every day). However, I have been thinking a lot about financial responsibility and assessing needs and wants. It’s something we’ve talked a lot about in my Family Finance class and it’s something I want to make a better habit of.

For an assignment in that same class, I interviewed my parents about some of their experiences budgeting. When they moved into their first home, they arrived with all their food in a cooler, only to discover that there was a gaping hole where a refrigerator should be. Rather than buy a brand-new fridge and pay for it month by month, they assessed their funds, my dad went to work, and they were able to assemble a budget of $500 within a few days. He went to look at a used refrigerator that an older couple was selling because it wouldn’t fit into their new house. They wanted $1500, but he just went to look anyway. He said “look, I only have $500, so I completely understand if you can’t sell it to me.” The wife said (just picture my dad in his best voice impersonation of a middle-aged lady) “Oh come on, Harold, just sell it to him! They’re just kids!” Long story short, “Harold” ended up caving and selling the fridge at a $1000 discount.

We still used that same fridge until only a few years ago (we had a newer one too, but when your family drinks 10 gallons of milk a week you need a little extra space).

Why do I tell this story? Well, first of all, I just think it’s cute. Then, I think it’s a great example. How easy would it have been to just borrow a little money and pay a little more for a fridge? What’s the big deal with having a little debt here and there if you’re sure you’ll pay if off soon anyway? Maybe it’s not that big of a deal. But think about how good it feels to be able to say, I don’t owe anything to anyone, and I’m free to do what I want!

It’s easy to get carried away thinking we NEED something we don’t. It’s extremely easy to borrow money with no immediate repercussions. It’s easy to get something for “nothing.” But nothing in life was supposed to be that easy. Life is supposed to require hard work and a little sacrifice here and there. So, if staying out of debt means you live in a cheaper apartment where your shower breaks twice in the same week, then so be it (yes I am speaking from personal experience, and yes, this happened during the busiest week of my whole semester).

I’ll end with the words of Richard G. Scott: “Don’t give up what you most want in life for something you think you want now.” I think this applies to money just as much as anything else.

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