A couple of years ago, a friend of mine made this interesting observation about his financial situation: “I’m comfortable with this level debt. I’m paying it down, but I’m not too worried about paying it down quickly.” This was the first time that I had ever talked to someone who admitted that he just didn’t care that much about getting rid of debt as quickly as possibility. Instead of making paying down debt a priority, he wanted to make sure that he was comfortable in his lifestyle as he chipped away at the debt.
While my friend’s progress in paying off debt is slow, he’s still making progress. But what struck me is that he feels OK about the debt. He knows that he’s paying a high rate of interest (except when he makes an occasional balance transfer), and it doesn’t bother him that much.
Here are some of the reasons that my friend feels OK about the amount of debt he has:
I found this an interesting attitude, since most people that I encounter — especially since many of them are in the PF blogosphere — want to get rid of any debt they have as quickly as they possibly can. But he seems fine with his decision, and he feels OK about carrying the debt month after month and year after year, paying it down slowly. He is paying more than minimum on one of his debts, applying the debt snowball method, but he isn’t in a hurry to pay as much as he probably could toward debt reduction.
My friend is the ideal credit card customer. He can easily afford his monthly payments, but he continues to pay interest over time.
To a certain degree, I can understand my friend’s decision. When I graduated from college, a newlywed with maxed out credit cards, my husband and I didn’t make much of an effort to pay down our debt. After all, I didn’t have a job yet, he was still in undergrad, and we were both facing graduate school. We toiled along for three or four years before deciding to make tackling our credit card debt a serious concern.
However, once we got to that point, we did what we could to pay down our credit card debt as quickly as possible. I’ve noticed, though, that with our low-interest student loan debt, consolidated for easy payment, we don’t attack the debt as urgently. We have other concerns that we put before extra payments (although we do make extra payments). There seems to be something about a set, low-interest installment payment that lulls us into apathy concerning the debt.
In the end, you have to decide what you think is worth it. My friend thought it was worth it to get into debt to have what he wanted immediately. Right now, he thinks it’s worth it to remain in debt longer, paying more in interest over time, in order to avoid discomfort. Others, though, might have other priorities.
What do you think? How fast do you want to get out of debt?
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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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