Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Debt Deception

Debt is often presented as our friend. This may be tough, but think back to when you had no debt. Then came the tantalizing image of that new car, the feel of the engine purring as you idle, the rush as your body is pushed against the seat when you step on it to get on the freeway! Who's thinking about $45,000? Not you! After all, it's only $350 a month, you could afford it. You've got a good paying job. And, you can drive it home today with NO MONEY DOWN! What a deal!
You've just entered the debtor zone.
But, it's all good. Then, you get a notice for a free weekend stay at a local resort. Nice! What's an hour listening to some people jabber about cruises? Let's go! "Hey, you mean I could go THERE! I've only seen these places on Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous! after all, I can see myself on the beach in that resort. Dude! It's only a bill and a half a month... I'm on it!
Now you're up to $500 a month in payments. Still not really hurting, though.
Six months later, as you are enjoying life, an idea comes to you. "You know, this is a great job, but I'd like to earn more money. I think I'll go back to school." As you look at your options, you find that you can even go back to a very good school and get your Master's degree with no out of pocket money. No holding you back. Not bad. No payments until you are done with school, and even then, there are options to postpone those payments. Not bad at all.
The nice thing about school was the people you met. Especially the one that you ended up marrying in your third year! Now she is a keeper! Such a bright and happy future together to look forward to! Within about six months, you are looking for a house. "Hey, we've been paying this much in rent, and this is an investment in our future, so we can afford a little more." Then you find THE home, that SHE REALLY loves (and, it's not so bad in your eyes either), and... "Well, you bet - we can afford that. We can do it. For you, my love, anything."
Oh, sorry, got so caught up in the romance, I forgot about our friendly debt load. Now, with the house, the HOA, the insurance, the home warranty, the additional utility costs, the car payment, the vacation rental, the groceries, the dog food (can't have a big yard without a good dog back there!), and keeping the romance going - suddenly, you were no longer making enough to make ends meet. Things are beginning to get a little tight now. Your debt load has grown, silently, bigger than you had envisioned. You are done with school now, but for some reason, your debts have grown, your income hasn't, and now, the letters start coming to you asking you to start paying back those loans you lived off of for so long. What? $450 a month? Are they crazy?
Debt starts out as our "friend", but debt is a Trojan horse. Debt is sold as something that will help us, but debt is truly our enemy. Debt sounds like freedom and a life of enjoyment; but debt is a slave master that slowly and steadily steals the life away from its victims, along with friends, meaning and purpose. All of it - gone.

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