The Wisdom of Becoming Debt-Free

Every day around three o’clock, local young parents zip past my house on their way to pick up their kids at the nearby school. I am astonished at their vehicles, which are usually brand new SUV’s. These parents whizz by in their expensive transportation while chatting or texting on their not-inexpensive smartphones, as I mentally calculate how much they’re spending each month to live this lifestyle.

This is why I’m particularly proud of one of my younger kids and their spouse. They’ve chosen to become debt-free. They rent a nice duplex while all their friends are out buying houses. They share one old car while their friends drive around town in late-model SUV’s and pick-up trucks. One of their co-workers told them they spend $1000 per month on their new pick-up, including insurance. My kids were stunned to hear this. They had two older cars with car payments, but sold one to pay off its loan, and are about to pay off the car they’re currently using. They’re also working hard to pay off their credit card, the balance of which was greatly enlarged by medical bills that their lousy health insurance from work wouldn’t cover.

I know how hard this is for them because I’ve been there. It’s not easy to live modestly when almost everyone around you is living large. But those living large never stop to consider what will happen if they lose their job and don’t find another at the same income level right away. They won’t be able to make their car payments and their vehicles will be towed off, they’ll fall behind on their mortgage payments, and then they’ll lose their home to foreclosure. This happens every day all over this country, but most people, and especially young people, think it will never happen to them.

So I’m really proud of my kids, but there’s a little self-interest here, too. You see, if they become debt-free, it’s much more likely that I’ll never have to see them suffer the repossession of their vehicle or their home. And that would be just fine by me.