Thursday, July 8, 2010
Be Careful About Saying "What's Another $1,000?"
Tip #264 - Be Careful About Saying, "What's another $1,000?" I know there are many people out there drowning in debt. Not including a house mortgage, I have read many people's stories about owing others $20,000, $40,000, $70,000, or even over $100,000. This might be a combination of student loans, medical debt, credit card debt, and car loans. And when one has $65,000 in loans, it is very tempting to say, "What's another $1,000? Let's go buy that large screen television."
Please, please, please don't think this way. Another $1,000 is another $1,000. And while it may seem like a drop in the bucket when you owe $50,000 or more. It's not - it's $1000 plus interest over time. When you seem like you are drowning in debt, don't keep adding to your debt because you think it's just another small drop in the bucket. Instead, work out a plan to attack the debt that you already have.
On the positive side, I've also read many stories where people have said they have paid off $35,000 in debt in two years or $70,000 debt in five years. So it can be done. Instead of adding to your debt because the amount seems insurmountable anyway, make a plan to get out of debt. Write up a financial plan for the next five years, create a budget, find ways to reduce your expenses and/or increase your income, and start paying that debt down. Every dollar of debt does count. Even if the number seems extremely high and too much to conquer, do not feel helpless and keep adding to that debt. It will only make the number that much higher when you decide enough debt is enough. So take wherever you are at today and start to tackle it. Don't throw in the towel.
In Real Life (IRL) - Several years ago I went to see a well-known designer, Michael Payne from HGTV, give a talk at a Home Show. As he was telling us about remodeling, he said the four most dangerous words when doing a room or house remodel are "While we're at it..." The audience had a giggle about that, but this phrase has always stuck with me. When redoing a room or a house for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, it's easy to say, "While we're at it, let's do the bathroom for another $10,000: or "Let's add a deck for $15,000," because after all, if you are already spending $100,000 on a remodel what's another $15,000? Well, it's another $15,000, that's what it is - not too different from ther person who feels overwhelmed with his debt so he keeps on spending. It's a very dangerous place to be.
I have a friend whose husband is out of work. This family has always lived pretty well - and I suspect above their means. So when the husband lost his job, I thought they would finally cut back on their spending. Instead, I see no change in their lifestyle. They recently confided in me that they spent $3,000 to send their son to summer camp. I was aghast - literally. After all, who spends that kind of money when they clearly do not have it? And that's when the idea for this post occured to me. I suspect that they have so much debt that another $3,000 just doesn't seem to mean much to them anymore. After all, what is $3,000 when they maybe owe $60,000 or even $150,000? I can't say much to her; I have tried. The best I can do is be an example.
My husband is not even out of a job, but as I mentioned in an earlier post he was told that his office will be closing in about 18 months. And because of that, I have already cut back. I cut out a $125 camp that I didn't feel was necessary this summer. And I have continued to show my friend the benefits of thrift store shopping. But she doesn't catch on or isn't interested. So I keep my mouth shut. And instead I write on here anonymously so maybe others can build up their financial knowledge and make wise choices with their money. And while you're at it...save some money up, as well. For other ideas on saving money, check out Frugal Friday.