Tag Archives: debt

get out of debt (part 2).

23 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 style:

Last time, on Grown Man

We learned that Grandpas are awesome (WOW!!!)

We found out that evil Dr. Debt is probably in YOUR HOME (ZOK!!!)

But just in the nick of time, Grown Man swooped in (WHAMM!!!) to save the day and let you know that your life is worth more than just money and possessions! (OOOOF!!!)

Then, just as you were about to stop reading, Robin came to the rescue and yelled, “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!” (OPRAH-ED!!!)

Robin always was kind of a buzz kill.  Anyhow, let’s continue on with the reasons why you should get out of debt (KAPOW!!!) Okay, I promise I’m done with those now.  Here we go…

2- Debt destroys relationships. Even great relationships have an impossibly hard time navigating the waters of financial stress.  Research — real research, not like some junky middle school science fair project — has shown that couples are more likely to survive gigantic problems with children, in-laws, or sex than they are with financial issues. Yes, it’s that big of a deal and it a-bombs good couples every day.  If you love that girl, balance the budget.

Me an Ole' Betsy?

3- Men need to dream. They need to be able to entertain thoughts like, “Maybe I’d like to move out west when I retire and open a dairy farm” (and yes, this is a real one I had last week.)  Why do I want to be a dairy farmer when I’m lactose intolerant?  Hell of a question. In any event, being debt free gives us the freedom to entertain crazy thoughts like that or less bovine dreams like, “Maybe I’ll buy my friend dinner tonight” or “What if I gave away some money to good causes?”  We need freedom, it’s in our DNA.  And being shackled by debt locks us into a life that’s void of new horizons.

4- Trust is earned. My grandfather (a.k.a. The Great One) trusted the mailman. Because every time the mailman took five minutes out of his Friday to pay the tab, he was clearing his debt, clearing his name, and looking The Great One in the eye and saying (without saying anything), “What you give to me, I will take care of — even if it’s just a sandwich and nickel Coke.”

And that, Grown Men, is why people trust you.  Because you own what’s yours and take care of what’s others.  If you are in debt, you’ve let the world (and more importantly, yourself) know that you’ll take others’ money and not give it back.  Yes, I know you’re usually borrowing from “the man” who “has plenty of money, so why do I have to pay them back!?”  Because you said you would, and at the end of the day, your word is the only true currency you’ve got.

But Grown Man, I’m in debt for school!  Are you saying that’s wrong? Also, why didn’t you tell me that a degree in LaserDisc Repair wasn’t a good idea?

Let’s talk briefly about the terms “good” and “bad” debt.  Good debt typically refers to a house or an education where there’s a possible, if not likely, positive return on investment.  Conversely, bad debt covers everything else that rarely returns equal or positive numbers.  These bad debts are things like cars, credit cards, and that $200 eBay vintage Glowworm.  None of these things, except maybe the Glowworm, will end up yielding you a profit and are widely understood to be dumb ideas.  However, I want to flip-it-and-reverse it on you…

There is no such thing as good debt.

Oh my, how shocking!  Yes, I’m telling you that you should try desperately to pay off your house as soon as possible and not have school loans.  Yes, I’m saying what you think I’m saying — no debt means no debt. Zero.

Now listen, I’m a reasonable man. I know people can’t usually plop down multiple thousands of dollars for these things. But, I am saying that you should do everything in your power to turn your 30-year mortgage into a 15-year one.  And, if that’s not possible, consider if you’ve got the buying power to be in your home in the first place.  If not, turn your dreams of living some other person’s life into realities of living the life you have. Get a house you can pay for – quickly – and stop leaning on the bank to prop you up for 30 years.

As far as school loans go, do everything in your ability to pay your way through school.  Even if you have to wait a year, live like a pauper, and save a ton for tuition — do it.  It’s only in recent history that school loans became the norm.  It was never common for most people, including the generation before us, to take out money for education. And, because they didn’t, they weren’t handcuffed to interest rates and creditors during the second chorus of Pomp and Circumstance.  You, however, will be.  And trust me on this one, you don’t want that pressure right out of school.

Having said all of this, please know that you can still be a Grown Man and have debt.  In full disclosure, I have a mortgage.  However, you can’t be resigned to it being okay, as you were never designed to live a life playing servant to the lender.  You were meant to do great things, to use your mind, to keep your word, and to own your own life.

Here are a few ways you can start reclaiming your world and get out of debt (none of these suggestions are affiliated with Grown Man or have any clue I exist):

1- Listen, read, ingest, and do everything Dave Ramsey says.  He’s intense and brilliant with money management.  You need him.

2- Start using Mint.com.  It won’t make you not crazy with money, but it’ll show you how crazy you are.

3- Find your friend who is out of debt and trade his/her advice for beer (that you buy with cash!)

4- Talk to The Great One, he’ll straighten you out — and give you a Werther’s Original.

You’re a Grown Man, get out of debt.

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.

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