As we’re coming into the homestretch of paying off our credit cards forever, it’s kind of
horrific funny if you think about the things we could have done with that money instead. Just like building savings, wealth, or a retirement fund, our debt was years in the making. I’d say it was sort of an art form, albeit a very alternative style that doesn’t receive much critical praise. I honestly can’t name one tangible item we have ownership of because of that debt. I know there were a couple of fun trips and probably some nice sporting equipment. There were also lots of restaurant meals that have long been digested and disposed of. The biggest thing we have to show for our $30,000 in credit card debt is a new understanding of how wonderful being consumer debt free will feel in a few months. I know it is not healthy to wonder what could have been, but if you are going to put that purchase you can’t afford right now on a credit card, think about these things we could have had without our debt.
- A Year Abroad-I have a friend who, with her husband and son, took a year sabbatical to live in Argentina. They rented a house, enrolled their son in school, and spent a year learning a different culture. I asked why they chose Argentina. Her reply was because they could live there for $30,000/year, where in Europe it would have been double the cost. I’m sure there are many other destinations we could have found for around that amount. What an amazing experience!
- Rental Property-While we were able to recently purchase our first rental property, if we hadn’t had credit card debt, this could have happened years ago. In our area, you can buy a house for under $80K, so $30,000 would be more than enough for a down payment and renovation if necessary.
- Roth IRA’s-I have fully funded my Roth IRA for the past three years, but we haven’t maxed out my husband’s plan. With $30,000 we could have fully funded both for an additional three years. If we had done that and never put anything else in, assuming 6% interest, the money would be worth over $180,000 by the time I’m 65.
- College Education-If I’d put that money toward my student loans, they would be paid off now. Instead, that will be the new project after the credit card debt is gone. We could have been debt free except for mortgages.
- And just for fun…..Mint condition 1965 Ford Mustang– I could care less about classic cars, but my husband has always had a longing for a 60’s era Mustang. While that might not be the most wise financial choice, we could certainly have purchased a very nice one for the amount we’ve thrown away on credit card debt, and we’d at least have something pretty to show for it.
My husband and I are fairly intelligent people. Between us, we have 15 years of higher education. We don’t have any serious vices. We’ve always held steady jobs and don’t have the excuse of a poor economy or health problem that got us into debt. I could beat myself up, but I do find satisfaction in knowing that we finally took the right steps to stop the cycle of credit card debt. Hopefully after our next ten years of marriage, we will be able to have a list of things we were able to do with our money instead of what could have been.
What is the dumbest thing you’ve ever bought on credit? If you’ve gotten out of credit card debt, what did that feel like?