Have you ever talked to a smoker? I have, my dad was a heavy smoker his whole life. One of the reasons he died at 47 actually. Well if you have ever talked to a smoker, most of them will recognize that their habit is so expensive and risky for their health.
If they know that then why do they keep doing it? I always asked my dad this question. He never really gave me a straight answer, perhaps because an addiction doesn’t require a straight answer, thus the reason as to why an addiction is an illogical decision.
Some smokers or other addicts perhaps might live in the hope that their addiction will be cured in the future. That one day they will wake up able to take a magic pill that will exorcise their habit. I don’t know if we can call that wishful thinking, ignorance, unrealistic expectations or pure insanity.
One definition of insanity is extreme foolishness or irrationality. That means that we have all had moments of insanity. Moments where we decide not to rationalize things, but rather keep doing the same old things that have proven to fail.
Thanks to my dad, I never took up smoking or drinking heavily for that matter. Having seen him struggle with both of those things, I promise myself to never let it affect me. However, I have also experienced moments of insanity.
When I went off to college I took on over $15,000 in student loans. Now that’s not too crazy compared to the hundreds of other students that took on three times that amount. That wasn’t the crazy part. Before becoming aware of this burden, many efforts to rationalize my debt came to mind.
I don’t think this rationalization is unnatural at all. Rather, I think it’s highly human. As humans, our initial reaction is unbelief. It is unbelief because our daily life is full of expectancy. We know what time we need to go to work, when to eat, when to call the parents, when to visit with friends, etc. But when something out of the ordinary happens, we greet hysteria with surprise.
I think this applies to our money as well. We look at this student loan crisis (yes, there is a crisis) and we think, “Well, at least I don’t have as much as that other person.” Yet we are unaware of the damage we are creating for our future. Then we begin, once again, rationalizing.
1.) The Government Will Take Care Of It
This is by far the most confusing to me. Because most of us know that anything left in the hands of the government is bound to take triple the amount of time. Yet we think the people in Washington will solve your money problems.
Politics is all about winners and losers, and if you’re not one you’re the other. So on a rare occasion will the government say, “hey you know what, we’re gonna clear all your debts in exchange for nothing.” We have a Congress that struggles to pass a comprehensive budget, yet we expect them to solve a trillion dollar student loan crisis.
Others suggest that we need more tuition equality, yet are unwilling to work while in school because of all the “studying” they have to do. Yes, college keeps getting expensive, but no one says you have to attend a private school or even a four-year university to be a well-educated person.
Trust me, as a dreamer and a minority I understand the struggle and the wish for the government to level the playing field. But we have to make change happen and not wait for the bureaucrats to do the job for us.
2.) I Will Pay Them Off When I Make More Money
That is the hope, that you will make more money in the future. However, if you’re not building good habits now, and if you’re not being a good steward of your money now, you never will.
Most of us intend to save more once we make more, but the reality is that we only end up spending more. So the time to start creating good habits is now.
The best thing we learned from working ourselves out of over $34,000 of debt was the ability to be content with what we have. Now everything becomes a blessing and gratitude shines upon your life. Your job becomes a tool to which you can use to your advantage. And if you hate it, then more of a reason to seek financial freedom. (Download a free budget here)
3.) Student Loans is Good Debt
Stop! As much as I am grateful for my education, I think there are better ways to become an educated human being. Your student loan is not a debt that you want to keep around. It is like a termite on your wealth, it will keep chewing away at it the longer you keep it around.
Zero debt is better than any debt at all. It is time you start thinking about creating your legacy and stop giving your money away to financial institutions for them to furnish their lobbies.
4.) I Need It To Establish Credit
There’s only one reason that you would need to establish credit, and that is to borrow more things on credit, which probably means you cannot afford. Keeping this student loan around isn’t going to do any good to your bad habit. So if you want to keep this vicious cycle around then, by all means, borrow more money, then pay it off and you’ll have the best credit rating.
But if you want to be different from the herd, and build wealth, you have to begin doing things that will generate money not pay to borrow money.
5.) I Need the Other Money to Invest It
You know the old phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none.” One thing I think we all need to learn to do is one thing at a time. Especially in today’s age, we are constantly multitasking, yet unable to get anything efficiently done.
I think that if we want to truly build wealth, we ought to focus on getting rid of the things that are holding us back (debt). We are trying to build good habits here, not find quick fixes to long term problems. In order to do that we have to have a firm grasp on the smaller steps. Then we can finally take the leap.
What are some other things that keep you/people from paying off debt?