Do I want to go into debt for this?

This is a guest post from Sheryl in Ontario, who is 40 years old with a grown daughter, and is trying to rebuild her retirement dream just 20 years too late for early retirement.

My hours have been cut back a bit at the second job, and the demands of my time by my parent(s) have lessened quite a bit as well, so I have been trying to make my home environment more reflective of the life I want.  I desire simple, functional, and inspiring surroundings that will allow me to focus on living, rather than maintaining stuff.  I’m finding it is double edged sword though.

Simple and functional are not always inspiring.  A few planks of wood supported by concrete blocks are fine to use as a bookshelf  in a basement or rec room, but in my living and bed rooms, I’d like something a little prettier please.  I’ve been to some contents sales, yard sales, thrift stores and scratch and dent section of new stores looking for some of the few things I need want for my home, but every time I see something I like, I ask myself  “Do I want to go into debt for this?”  Yes, I have debt, and as I see it, while I have debt, even when I pay cash for something , buying the item is still incurring debt, as that money could have gone to reduce my debt instead.

I’ve made a compromise though, some things I will wait until I am out of debt (except the mortgage, maybe) and others, I will buy now.  I think the biggest impact I can make right now is closet organizers.  I know they are more expensive than put-it-together-yourself shelving , but I’m also thinking that because they would become a fixture in my home, they would increase it’s resale appeal, and they serve the purpose that I need, a place to put off season clothes, extra linens, stores of food that were a bargain, and a few other things I’m not planning on getting rid of.

I’ve also started asking myself that question when other money spending opportunities come up.  Do I want to go into debt because I don’t feel like cooking?  Do I want to go into debt just because I feel like going for a drive (with no particular destination in mind)?  How about for that shirt? or those shoes?

Sometimes the answer is yes, if my shoes have worn out, or I have a gift card for a restaurant that would make my out of pocket very low.

If I really need inspiration to say no, I’ll log into my banking website and pay on my debt what ever I felt like spending on an non-essential, and it feels good to see the outstanding balance go down, even just a little.  Usually I pay all my bills at the end of the month, so having a mid-month boost can help morale.

Do you play any tricks or games with yourself to keep you on track?  What works, and what doesn’t?

6 thoughts on “Do I want to go into debt for this?”

  1. When I first became really aware of my credit card use, I attached to the card a picture of myself when I was about 4 years old. When I mindlessly whipped out the card, I stared at the picture and asked myself, “What did that little girl want from her life and will this purchase get me there?” Usually, the answer was no. While sad, this act gave me time to reflect on my core values and why I need to recommit to my authentic self.

  2. The premise behind this entry is not much different than Dave’s last entry on sacrifice, only with a slight twist. And yes, it is unfortunate that we have to trick ourselves into doing what we know is right. But you touched on something else that I find intriguing, no matter how focused we are, it is amazing how we still manage to come up with some excuse that makes a purchase okay. 100 years ago, only Royalty had closet organizers, so does it make sense that we would need them today? But somehow, we manage to convince ourselves that it makes a difference, and will bring us some measure of happiness. Aren’t we humans a funny bunch! I just bought my new closet organizer too, (read digital camera).

    Wasn’t it Charles Dickens who said beware of ignorance and want. I wonder if we don’t create our own ignorance in order to feed our wants.

    How fickle the human mind that we can manipulate ourselves.

  3. Better we manipulate ourselves that by someone else!!

    I agree about the ignorance and want comment. It became an ongoing joke between my daughter and I when she was younger. Many times I “had” to buy something for her horse habit (to replace something that broke, or a piece of tack for a new discipline). Her response when I grumbled about the the price was “but it’s pretty”. (She said it tongue in cheek, she’s not that shallow). Even today, she and I will use the “pretty” comment when we know we are buying something that is not an absolute need.

    My closet organizers are “pretty”. Although I do hope to make them pay for themselves. I figure that if I can make better use of the space in my condo (so no basement, attic, shed or garage to store things), I can empty my storage locker and rent it to another resident who has too much stuff for their unit.

  4. What resonated with me was the idea that as long as you have debt, everything you buy is (in a sense) a debt.

    All things being equal, if you didn’t buy this or that, you could get yourself out of debt that much faster. Once my house is paid off, I might have to think of a new strategy for saving, but right now, that works very well for me.

  5. Pingback: Friday Links
  6. Great personal story, I enjoy these. I’m no stranger to this as I’ve often or almost always ask myself this question with everything I buy. It’s not so much going into debt with the small things but it all adds up. For us,if we want to be debt free before we are 40 we better hope we make the right decisions.
    I know when we make larger purchases it’s difficult sometimes because we really hope we are on the right path. I think in the end if we have a clear vision and goals the decisions will come naturally. Thanks for sharing your story. Cheers Mr.CBB

Comments are closed.