get out of debt. (part 1)

21 Sep

Not my mom, but you get the point

In the 60’s, my grandfather (and Grown Man Grand Poobah) owned a drug store.  It was a perfect slice of Americana and exactly what you’re picturing in your mind.  Just look around — there’s my mom, then a quiet teenager, working the soda fountain and daydreaming about The Monkees. Standing behind a raised counter with a warm smile, perfect tie, and white coat is my grandfather.  He knows the name, story, and prescription of every patron that’s walked through his door.  He is proud to own a business where relationships are valued and quality is a given.

Every time I see The Great One (my grandpa’s actual nickname), we chat about how it used to be.  And, inevitably, he tells me the story of the mailman.  The mailman (who actually had a name that I don’t remember because I’m not as awesome as The Great One) came into the store everyday for lunch. Of course, The Great One still remembers his order.  Anyhow, the mailman would give my mom the mail, grab a seat at the counter, chit chat with the patrons, enjoy his sandwich and nickel Coke, and leave.  No money changed hands, nothing was said about payment, he just came and went about his day delivering the mail on time.  However, this wasn’t odd. This was something that used to happen all the time back in the day — my grandfather put him on a tab.  Except, and here’s the big except, there wasn’t actually a tab.  The Great One just knew and trusted that every Friday, the mailman would take an extra moment and settle up for the week. Why?  Because “…the mailman was a good man, he always paid his debts.  Every Friday, right on time – just like the US Mail.” (Grown Men use the postal service).

Here’s the truth bomb: If you walked into my grandfather’s store and enjoyed your sandwich and nickel Coke on good faith, you’d probably owe The Great One thousands of dollars and have to get yourself corrected – greatest generation style.  Why?  Because if you’re like most of the country, you spend without thinking, rack up credit, seek fulfillment in having more, and end up being a slave to the lender.  You, my Grown Man, are probably in debt and – what’s worse – you likely don’t care.

Here’s why you need to care:

1- You are worth something. And that something is made up of your character, your beliefs, how you invest in the world around you, the work that you do, and your resources.  All of those factors, taken as a whole, equal you – a Grown Man.

So what does it say for us if we’re given an amount for our wages, but we try to live the life of a person that makes many times that amount?  It means that somewhere, the things we value – really value – are off.  It means that we think that having the life of those people is better then the crappy old lot of our measly existence.  This is a lie that we tell ourselves because we assume that our worth as men has something to do with money.  The truth is, money is just a measurement of the perceived value of your work.  The real value of a man is the fruit of his labor.  His labor as a friend, a spouse, an employee, and a person.

OKAY, DAD!  Geez, I’m important and special. Great. But still, I want a freaking jet ski!


This could be you

I know you do, buddy, I know you do. Jet skis really are the best.  The key is, what’s the jet ski really about? And do you make jet ski money?  If it’s about just having fun and straddling a rocket as it rips through the lakes and rivers of your state, then you’ve got the right (but dangerous) mindset.  If it’s about making you feel better about your perceived position in life by showing the coworkers your new Water Rocket 9000 pictures — you don’t want a jet ski, you want happiness and acceptance.  And that, my friend, can’t be purchased.

Debt is stealing from yourself.  Stealing from a life that you’re not living and banking on the fact that your current desires will be fulfilled by your future earnings.  You’re willing to say, “Hey, I think I should be having this life, so I’m going to sign a crappy loan or register for another credit card to get it.”  What’s happening though, is that you’re not content with what you’re worth now, today, at this moment in time – so you steal from your future.

The question is this: What are you worth, and how can you find contentment in that?  It’s a hard question but one that’s really at the heart of our crazy spending.

Dear lord…for real, I hate your Oprah posts.

I know you do.  But guess what, this is only the half of it.  Tomorrow, we’ll look at reasons 2-4 as well as some practical ways to climb out of debt.  Here’s a hint: stop spending money you don’t have.

You’re a Grown Man, get out of debt.

15 Responses to “get out of debt. (part 1)”

  1. bramanm 21 September 2010 at 10:43 pm #

    GM – What about things like student loans? I’m sitting on a large amount of debt because I thought I would be more marketable with the MBA, but I’m not. They want the MBA and experience which I can’t get because I was busy getting the MBA… tough choices

    • You're a Grown Man 22 September 2010 at 12:22 am #

      Man, that is a tough choice. Make sure to read part 2 tomorrow, I’ll hit student loans a little bit.

      Thanks, Matt.

  2. Amy 22 September 2010 at 9:11 am #

    My husband had a metric butt-ton of debt when we met/married. We had to get one of those bill consolidation loans and lived on a cash only basis for over three years. It was one of the best experiences. Even though we have credit now we still live as though we don’t. If we don’t have the cash to buy something, we don’t buy it. We use the card for emergencies or unexpected expenses. I put money into savings instead of paying off debt.

  3. lookingforsomethingtofind 22 September 2010 at 11:42 am #

    First of all your grand dad sounds allot like mine, the greatest generation, had more common sense that is around today.

    I have never met an interesting person, who judges people by their belongings. I have friends, of all different backgrounds, some very rich, some who aren’t as finically well off. They are all people who are great to be around and judge others the same way.

    What I don’t get about the debt thing, is that, I have never felt better around things. Going out, and being with people is what life is about. Traveling (which if you do some research, you can do without breaking the bank), friendship and all that is what life should be about. Experiences are more important, I’d rather collect anecdotes that anything else. A person isn’t their bankroll, or their job even.

    • You're a Grown Man 22 September 2010 at 1:53 pm #

      That was VERY well put, “looking”. I’m a little peeved that you put in two paragraphs what took me 900 words, but whatever.

      You’re awesome. Thanks for always being such a loyal reader.

  4. Emily 22 September 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    Great post, Grown Man. I look forward to part two of this series.

  5. Heather 22 September 2010 at 2:02 pm #

    Another one to pass on. Thanks. 🙂

  6. Adam 22 September 2010 at 9:56 pm #

    My high school calculus teacher always said, “If your outgo exceeds your income, then your upkeep will be your downfall.”

    Great post, Grown Man.

  7. Michael 23 September 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    Perhaps you will touch on it tomorrow, but one of the great things about not being deep in debt is that a great credit score allows you to get a better deal when you go to purchase a house. A house is something worth getting into affordable debt over, where a jetski is not worth the debt (regardless of the awesomeness factor).

    • You're a Grown Man 23 September 2010 at 11:49 pm #

      Good points, Michael. While I take a slightly different view on houses, I do think it’s a better option that said jetski. Although, how rad would a jetski be?!

  8. So Glad to See It 23 September 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    Grown Man,

    Well done. Certainly one of your top 10 most important posts. Debt is the number one destroyer of marriages, a leading cause of suicide, and enslaves people to finding higher paying jobs just so they can pay the minimum balance each month. Thanks for fighting back.

    • You're a Grown Man 23 September 2010 at 4:26 pm #

      Thank you, kind sir. I’d love your thoughts on part 2, coming out in about 20 mins…

  9. mxwp 8 October 2010 at 11:51 am #

    Lots of men view their own value through wealth because that’s how women value men. Of course, it’s never worth it to go into debt just to impress women.

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  1. get out of debt (part 2). « you're a grown man - 23 September 2010

    […] Sep In case you didn’t read You’re a Grown Man, get out of debt (part 1). Here’s a quick recap — 1960’s Batman TV Show […]

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