Debt is a dirty little secret - MoneySense

Debt is a dirty little secret

Keeping up with the Joneses is not all it’s cracked up to be.

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I was having a chat with a fellow Brightonite, we’ll call her Sue, recently when the conversation turned to renovations and vacations. My daughter Alex and I took only a short trip to Montreal this year despite me being out of production for a few months. Instead I chose to renovate my front yard, swapping grass for garden. She laughed and said, “I thought you would be able to afford to do both.”

Hardly anyone can afford to do all the things they want to do if they’re choosing to live within their means and stick to their priorities. Because I work in a fickle industry, I prioritize savings. That means making choices about what I’ll spend my disposable income on.

When you see people who seem to satisfy their every whim, don’t even attempt to keep up. If you’re wondering how they paid for it all, they very well may not have. Instead they’ve made their purchases on credit cards where only the minimum payment is made, they’ve financed with lines of credit, and they’ve consolidated their consumer debt to a mortgage yet one more time. It’s easy to spot the stuff people buy, the debt they’re dragging along usually can’t be seen. It’s their dirty little secret.

Alex had to have her wisdom teeth out and as I wrote a cheque to cover her four extractions I said, with a laugh, “I’m good for it.” The oral surgeon laughed and said, “You wouldn’t believe the people who come in here who live in expensive houses, drive foreign-made SUVs and have cottages up north who can’t pay their bills because their credit cards are tapped out!”

All that flash doesn’t mean squat if at the end of the day you don’t have a pot to pee in.

The next time envy niggles at you and the thought, “I wish I could too” goes through your head, think about what else you don’t have, along with the new and shiny: the debt. If you’re smart enough to know what’s really important, if you are clear about your values and make your purchases based on what’s important to you, you’ve got no dirty little secrets to hide. You’re living in the light. And it feels good, doesn’t it?

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