I know...its a little early for Turkey day...but...
You know when you've eaten a Thanksgiving dinner and you know you've eaten a little too much? It is nice to be full and have that fresh yummy food in your belly, but you've overeaten just a little bit too much. It is kind of uncomfortable, but you'll live. If you take a little nap, maybe that feeling will go away. Debt can weigh on your mind like that Thanksgiving dinner. It can become so burdensome that you wish you could just take a nap and have the load lightened enough to feel normal. The only problem is, that debt cannot be digested like corn, turkey or olives. It is always there, lurking to remind you.
This is one of my favorite quotes about finance because it kind of gives a little bit of a face to debt:
Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation; it never visits nor travels; it takes no pleasure; it is never laid off work nor discharged from employment; . . . it never pays taxes; it buys no food; it wears no clothes; it is unhoused and without home and so has no washing, it has neither wife, children, father, mother, nor kinfolk to watch over and care for; it has no expense of living; it has neither weddings nor births nor deaths; it has no love, no sympathy; it is as hard and soulless as a granite cliff. Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.
So much for the interest we pay. Whoever borrows should understand what interest is; it is with them every minute of the day and night. — President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Conference Report, April 1937, pp.102-103
I have a friend that I remind (whenever it seems proper) that they do not want a new car because the one they have works great and is paid off. The grass can always be greenersomewhere else. But that green grass can get smashed and run over with a bulldozer if times become tight and that payment can't be made. We have been counseled for years along with self-reliance to avoid debt and save a little. Here are some of the great ones given by our prophets.
- “Let us avoid debt as we would avoid a plague; where we are now in debt, let us get out of debt; if not today, then . “Let us straitly and strictly live within our incomes, and save a little." Ezra Taft Benson, “Prepare for the Days of Tribulation,” Ensign, Nov 1980
- President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Do not leave yourself or your family unprotected against financial storms. . . . Build up savings.” — Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Earthly Debts, Heavenly Debts,” Ensign, May 2004, pp. 40-41
- When I was married my wise father said to me, “Get a modest home and pay off the mortgage so that if economic storms should come, your wife and children will have a roof over their heads.” — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Living Worthy of the Girl You Will Someday Marry,” Ensign, May 1998, p. 50
And my favorite -
- First, and above and beyond anything else, let us live righteously. . . . Let us avoid debt as we would avoid a plague; where we are now in debt, let us get out of debt, if not today, then . Let us straightly and strictly live within our incomes, and save a little. Let every head of every household see to it that he has on hand enough food and clothing, and where possible fuel also, for at least a year ahead. You of small means put money in foodstuffs and wearing apparel, not in stocks and bonds; you of large means will think you know how to care for yourselves, but I may venture to suggest that you do not speculate. Let every head of every household aim to own his own home, free from mortgage. Let every man who has a garden spot, garden it; every man who owns a farm, farm it. — President J. Reuben Clark , Jr., Conference Report, April 1937, p. 26
For most of us, I feel, try to live within our means. However, when our dollars are stretched too far, it makes it nearly impossible to store extra goods when we are so strapped. Avoidance is the first line of defense. Avoiding it like a plague has been mentioned several times. Sometimes, debt cannot be avoided. Buying a home makes more financial sense than renting. Even in order to even rent an apartment or buy a car you have to have good credit. Many years ago, a good handshake and your word was good enough. That is not the case anymore.
Here is some advice to get you on the road to becoming debt free:
- Pay your tithing
- Pay your highest interest credit first (even if its the smallest, interest can eat you ...like a plague)
- After your highest interest is paid off, begin with the next highest and so on.
- Live strictly within your means, don't confuse needs and wants
There are many online calculators and phone apps to help you figure out the best plan of attack.
Even though paying off debt isn't nearly as fun eating Thanksgiving dinner, we will feel huge relief when it has moved on and doesn't weigh us down any longer. Freedom never felt so good.