Right now I’m watching Detroit Mayor Dave Bing discuss his plan to close an additional 70 public schools in Detroit. Yes, enrollment is declining at the schools but the school district is dealing with a significant amount of debt. Without the debt, and the millions of dollars per year in debt repayment, the school district would be in a better situation.
Now you aren’t the Detroit Public School district, and it's likely that your debt totals aren’t in the millions of dollars. In fact, you are probably able to meet all of your monthly debt obligations and still have money left over for eating out, going to a movie, buying new clothes and more. However, I’d encourage you to rethink the “debt is normal” lifestyle and consider taking a proactive approach to getting out of debt now.
Here are five reasons that I hope will help convince you to start your own get-out-of-debt journey.
1. Reduce stress
Let’s face it: when you receive a bill in the mail, your heart rate probably goes up a bit. If the bill is unexpected, it probably goes up more than just a bit. If you managed to pay off all of your debt except your mortgage, or even all of your debt including your mortgage, imagine how less stressful life would be.
2. Improve your marriage
Believe it or not, debt can be a primary factor in divorce. Money fights are one of the leading causes of divorce in our country. While money fights aren’t always about debt, you better believe that households with debt — especially those with a significant debt load — have more money fights than couples without debt.
3. Reduce your risk
Credit cards can be risky. Although the CARD Act has helped relieve some of the problems with the credit card industry, many still remain. That great 4.99 percent fixed rate offer you’ve enjoyed for five years without a late payment, guess what? It is going up to 14.99 percent next month. As long as you are properly notified of the rate change, there is nothing you can do about it besides close the account. However, closing the account may not be a bad choice.
When you are in debt, you are on the bad side of the interest equation — paying a company for the privilege of using their money. When you don’t have to send off $2,500 to the mortgage company each month, with $1,500 going towards interest, you can end up on the good side of the interest equation. By investing that $2,500 into a mutual fund, retirement account or other investment, you are putting interest to work for you. Compound interest is a beautiful thing.
5. Charitable giving
If you have to send less of your money off to creditors, including the car note holder, credit cards, student loans and your mortgage, you will have more money to give to charitable organizations. Is the neighborhood food bank running low on food? You can quickly write a check for several hundred dollars without worrying about whether you’ll still have enough left to pay the bank. Besides, it feels better to write a check to your favorite charity than to send a check to your least favorite bank.
These are just five reasons why you should get out of debt now. Although millions of Americans have a car payment and credit card bills, it doesn’t have to be the status quo in your household. With the recent financial crisis, the still-shaky unemployment outlook and the ever-increasing price of gas, wouldn’t it be nice to have no debt right about now? I think it would be great!
If you need some more convincing, find a personal finance guru that fits your style and check out one of their books.
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